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New album Refuge out now – plus new single

Dear friends, I hope you are well and staying safe. Now more than ever we see how all of us on earth are connected as one human family.

For the past year I have been working on the most important album I have ever created with Sultans of String, collaborating with over 30 musicians including Béla Fleck, Robi Botos, Ifrah Mansour, Demetrios Petsalakis, Imad Al Taha, Amir Amiri, Edmar Castaneda, Duke Redbird, Twin Flames, and many, many others on a wide-ranging treatise on displaced peoples.  You can hear it here http://smarturl.it/RefugeAlbum
Refuge is a recording of 13 songs that speak to the challenges facing the world’s displaced peoples–their stories, their songs, their persistence and their humanity.  Joined by an international cast, some of whom are recent immigrants to North America, the album immerses itself in the plight of struggling peoples, and the humanitarian response that should greet everyone in search of a home.


Ojibway Elder Duke Redbird says in the opening song, “The spirit of the people is equal to the power of the land”. It is a call for unity between us all, and with the earth that gives us life and sustenance. The song features the interwoven vocals of spoken-word artist Redbird and Quebec’s Indigenous folk duo, Twin Flames.

The album’s orchestra section was recorded in Istanbul with Gündem Yayli Grubu, a collection of Roma string players that work with many Turkish pop stars. They have a very distinct sound all of their own that cannot be replicated anywhere on the planet. Gündem Yayli Grubu give a strong flavor of the ‘old world’ to “Refuge”, and is also a nod to the music of my Lebanese ancestors. 

The musicians of Refuge are brave, talented, inspired. That inspiration couldn’t be summed up more clearly than in the gorgeously evocative and powerful lyrics of the first single, ‘I Am a Refugee’, penned and recited by Somali-American poet and multi-media artist, Ifrah Mansour, who now makes her home in the Twin Cities.

“I wrote the poem for me, for my community,” said Mansour, “and for those who are yearning for change, those who are yearning to deepen their empathy,” explains Mansour. “Writing the poem was a way to unleash some pain that I could name finally – an artist’s job is to draw that hope, especially in a time of deep hopelessness.”

In this very unusual, troubling and painful time, please find some hope in these songs, and if you are able, please discover more about our guest artists. They are all wonderful and would appreciate your support!

You can listen and buy Refuge here: http://smarturl.it/RefugeAlbum

And check out our latest video by clicking here or the image below
Huge thanks to our many supporters and fans who pre-purchased CDs to help us create this body of work including Executive Producers Rick and Marianne Chester, as well as Llewellyn Pereira, Nancy Cornell, and Tim Harrison.

Thanks to the generous support of funding agencies:

 This recording was supported by Toronto Arts Council with funding from the City of Toronto.

We would like to acknowledge funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.   

We would like to acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts

Our big Toronto CD Release show is rescheduled to October 16 and tickets are available here https://refugetoronto.eventbrite.ca