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World On Your Street: The Global Music Challenge
Celebrating Sanctuary

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Refugees get a lot of bad press, but here we are celebrating the rich contribution of refugee musicians to the culture of the UK. To mark Refugee Week (16-23 June) we collected stories of refugee musicians from Birmingham, Leicester and London. Radio 3 was a partner for the Celebrating Sanctuary festival in London and a special project was commissioned featuring 'Eliza Carthy and the Celebrating Sanctuary All Stars'.

Listen to music from the gig (23 mins)
Watch video footage of the gig (4 mins)
Watch video footage of the rehearsal (5 mins)

Eliza Carthy has been commissioned by Radio 3 to devise a set especially for the Celebrating Sanctuary festival in collaboration with a number of refugee musicians. Eliza is a fiddle virtuoso and true English traditional folk griot: she grew up on stage playing with her parents, the UK’s foremost traditional singers Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson. She is a tireless explorer of English folk traditions from 17th century ballads to 21st century dub.

Eliza will be collaborating with a group of musicians from a panoramic diversity of traditions, most of whom were renowned in their own countries before they had to leave: Téa Hodzic from Bosnia (vocals), Tara Jaff an Iraqi Kurd (harp and vocals), Joseph Nsubuga from the Ugandan band Impala (guitar), Kanyinda Koko Mukala from the Congolese golden age bands of the ’70’s/’80’s (percussionist/singer) and Vanya (Bronislav Krawczyk) from the Polish Roma band Romani Rad (accordion).

The Midland Refugee Council got in touch with us about the musical talent they have run across in the course of their work. Kate Bowen is part of the Health team: 'We use the World Health Organisation's definition of health: "whole health" which includes social well being and emotional health. We set up artists groups to enable refugees and asylum seekers with artistic or musical talents to fulfil their potential.'

Abdul Ghafoori'Some musicians, such as Ayub Ali, are established musicians with some celebrity in their own country. Others such as Gholam Reza Soulimany have been public performers in their own country, but have not identified how to reach the same position in the UK. That's where we come in. We make contacts in the British music scene on their behalf, and arrange local performances. The Afghan band led by Abdul Ghafoori has become known within their community already, and it would be great to enable them to open up their work to wider British music arenas.'

International Hotel, LeicesterSOUNDS FROM LEICESTER
Karen Pirie of BBC Radio Leicester has discovered fantastic musicians amongst the city's refugee population. 'The same music for which musicians have been persecuted in their mother lands has helped them adapt to a new life as refugees in the UK. Tabla and harmonium player Mohammad Alim Maihan was arrested by the Taliban for performing at a party in his home town of Kandoz in Afghanistan. Since starting a new life in Leicester, Alim has freely entertained fellows residents at parties at the city's International Hotel - a home to asylum seekers from across the globe.

Paulo Carnoth, LeicesterAmong the many musicians who have passed through the hotel before settling in Leicestershire are Angolan percussionist Paulo Carnoth, singers from Somalia, Iran, Latvia and Zimbabwe and musicians from Kurdistan. The musicians have shared their musical skills in locally based workshops and have recorded some of their new compositions. Other refugee musicians have found outlets and encouragement through English language departments at city colleges. Hamid is another Leicester-based musician who sings Persian songs from Iran.

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