Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars have risen like a phoenix out of the ashes of war and enflamed the passions of fans across the globe with their uplifting songs of hope, faith, and joy. The band is a potent example of the redeeming power of music and the ability of the human spirit to persevere through unimaginable hardship and emerge with optimism intact. From their humble beginnings in West African refugee camps in the midst of their country's bloody civil war, Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars have performed on some of the world's most prestigious stages and matured into one of Africa's top touring and recording bands.
The All-Stars first gained notoriety on the global stage thanks to a 2005 documentary by American filmmakers Zach Niles and Banker White. Their film introduced the world to the band members' personalities and dramatic stories, not to mention their instantly appealing music. "As harrowing as these personal tales may be," wrote The New York Times, "the music buoying them is uplifting." Newsweek raved, “"It's as easy to fall in love with these guys as it was with the Buena Vista Social Club." Together with the group's 2006 debut album Living Like a Refugee, the movie and subsequent US tours helped the band expand its following. Soon the All-Stars were playing in front of enraptured audiences of tens of thousands, appearing on the Oprah Winfrey Show, undertaking high-profile collaborations, and earning praise and backing from Sir Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Ice Cube, Angelina Jolie, and others inspired by their life-affirming story and captivating music.
The senseless deaths and illnesses of friends and family, including some of the band's original members, and the slimming hope for great change in their country as a result of peace have only strengthened the resolve of the All-Stars to do what they can to turn their country around. Their weapon in this struggle is music, and their message, while offering critique and condemnation of wrongdoing, remains positive and hopeful. Optimism in the face of obstacles and the eternal hope for a better future motivate their lives and music. In 2012, the group continues to perform for rapturous crowds, record albums (including 2010's Rise & Shine and Radio Salone, released April 24th), and bring their message of hope and celebration to longtime fans and new audiences everywhere.