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Tuesday September 02, 2014
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Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars

 

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Enter another phalanx of the powerful, including House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, who smoothed the All Stars' entry into the United States - no easy thing for a group of musicians with no identification, no bank account, no electronic footprints of any kind. In the spring of this year the Refugee All Stars found themselves performing on a sidewalk at Austin's SXSW festival and then watching as San Francisco agent Mike Kappus negotiated a six-figure publishing deal on their behalf, and then an album. "Biggie biggie time, I say!" Koroma observed drily in a tune on that album, "Garbage to the Showglass."

The Refugees went on to perform at Tennessee's massive Bonnaroo festival, with new songs coming quickly. "Some are vampires," they warned, as the usual gang of thieves began to sap their country's fragile renewal. "Some are hooligans. Some are kleptomaniacs. Some are idolaters." But "Smile," they sing. "We thinking about some positive changes." The music of Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars is an infectious mix of danceability, humor, and hard-won idealism.

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