Rise and Shine

by elizabeth | April 2nd, 2010

I’m very excited to be going on a short tour on trombone with Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars next week! They are celebrating their new album on Cumbancha Records, “Rise & Shine.”

Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars

Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars started playing music together in West African refugee camps while their homeland was being racked by years of bloody warfare. Since then, audiences around the world have embraced the band and their utterly extraordinary story.

The band members are broadly diverse in age and character, although they possess a strong bond forged through common experiences and values: They all know war and have struggled to survive in one of the world’s poorest countries, and they share an unwavering belief in the transformative power of music. The current lineup of the band was cemented when Reuben M. Koroma, the sage songwriter and guiding light of the group, returned home from the refugee camps, joined by Black Nature, an orphaned teenaged rapper; Mohammed Bangura, who suffered amputation at the hands of rebels; and Francis John Langba. Back in Sierra Leone, they reunited with family, friends and former band mates Ashade Pearce, Jah Son Bull and Makengo Kamara—many of whom they believed not to have survived the violence.

The band’s journey—which culminated in the All Stars’ first recording in a studio—was documented in the multi-award winning documentary Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, by Zach Niles and Banker White. The resulting album, Living Like A Refugee, garnered the band international acclaim and high profile fans such as Keith Richards, Sir Paul McCartney, Aerosmith, Angelina Jolie and Ice Cube.

For the follow up to their acclaimed debut, Living Like a Refugee, the band began recording in their hometown of Freetown, Sierra Leone then traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana to work with the highly accomplished producer Steve Berlin (Los Lobos, Angélique Kidjo, Rickie Lee Jones, Michelle Shocked, Alec Ounsworth, Jackie Greene) at Piety Street Recording. The All Stars immediately felt at home in New Orleans, not only because the hot climate and spicy food reminded them of Africa, but also because the residents of the Crescent City have firsthand experience with the bitterness of exile and the redemptive power of music. The local musicians who contributed to the record—including favorites Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Bonerama and Washboard Chaz—lend it an infectious spirit of celebration and optimism in the face of struggle.

You can check my calendar for all the details, but we’ll be in:

  • Burlington, Vermont
  • Woodstock, Vermont
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • New York, New York

Hope to see you at a show!

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elizabeth! is a vocalist, trombonist, and songwriter working in NYC and Los Angeles. Originally from Vermont, she studied neuroscience at Harvard before moving to NYC to play, tour, and record with jazz musicians, indie rockers, pop stars and more. Her new album of original jazzy pop tunes was just released on Canopy Jazz!

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