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Arts & Culture

Borne Of War: A Story Of Music And Healing

A tragic African war spawned something no one could have foreseen. Something positive and counter-intuitively uplifting. It all started when civil war raged through Sierra Leone. Freetown resident Ruben Koroma had to flee.

"When the war happens we run away and went to the refugee camp in Guinea," he says.

Time passed under miserable refugee camp conditions. To relieve refugees' suffering, Koroma and other musicians formed a band.

"It's a band that was formed in a refugee camp. And we were entertaining our fellow refugees in the camp. Just to  help them get through the problems they have in their mind," he says.

These were talented players, and the Refugee All Stars became popular in no time. So popular that they actually put together a very special kind of tour. 

"A tour for all the refugee camps in Guinea, playing for them," Koroma says.

With so few upbeat stories coming out of war zones, the Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars soon got the attention of a documentary filmmaker.

"They made the documentary theme about us and we won an award, about the best documentary that year. Since then people have wanted to see us everywhere."

That documentary thrust them onto the world stage, where for most of the last 20 years they have been playing for people all around the world, and have recorded several albums. Now, Arts San Antonio is bringing them here. What can you expect? Koroma has an easy answer: To dance!

"Yeah, they will surely dance! Our music--you can't resist it. When we start to play you will shake your body," he says.

Catch them Friday, Oct. 21st at the Charline McCombs Empire Theatre.

Find more on the Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars performance here