If you missed Oprah yesterday, Leonardo DiCaprio and Dijmon Hounsou were on to promote Blood Diamond, a new drama about the diamond industry in Sierra Leone. But the real gems of the show were the members of the Refugee All-Stars band. At SXSW earlier this year, as all of the Pitchfork-heads were trying to get some Editors and Art Brut action, I was lucky enough to stumble onto the All-Stars. I saw a documentary at the festival, also called The Refugee All-Stars, which tells their story of living in strife in Guinea after being run out of their native Sierra Leone. At the time of this brutal civil war, many of the musicians lived without shelter, many more without food, and all constantly lived in fear of the guerrilla rebels who hacked off limbs on a whim. For them and those around them, music was one of the only ways to cope. They have since been traveling the world’s film and music festival circuit, promoting their story and music in hopes that it’ll inspire others and, perhaps, give them a little cash along the way.
I got to watch the band perform their soothing yet vibrant reggae, and had the pleasure of meeting them afterward (pictured). What can I say? I was hooked. If you’d like to support the band — after all, this is the season of giving — you can buy their album or make a donation here.