Concert Review: Sierra Leone All Stars

In Northampton, the Iron Horse Music Hall has concerts almost every night of the year. It regularly hosts world famous musicians like Michael Franti and Dar Williams. On April 9, one of the best concerts in years at the Iron Horse was performed by the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars. The dance floor was full of people of all colors, and full of energy, reflecting the full-on performance on the stage.

The band released a new album, Libation, last month. Most of the songs on the album are Afro-Pop or “high life” style. Some are reggae. It's an excellent album.

"Our country, Sierra Leone, is rich in minerals. Why are our people in poverty," said lead singer Ruben Koroma.

Between 1991 and 2002, there was a civil war in the west African nation of Sierra Leone. Thousands of people, including the future members of the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars, left their homes and sought safety in the neighboring nation of Guinea.

The trailer for an award-winning documentary film about the All Stars is at:

www.pbs.org/pov/sierraleone/trailer.php#.Uy2T_IUVfvw

The U.S. and other rich nations have a long history of stealing resources from Africa. This story is told in the books “Bury the Chains” by Adam Hochschild and "Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power" by Steve Coll, and in the film "Lumumba" by Raoul Peck. The average life expectancy in Sierra Leone is 45. In the U.S., it’s 77. The book "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond explains why the average black person is much poorer than the average white person.

The All Star’s music is uplifting. It's hard not to dance to it.

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