Refugees for Refugees is a Belgium-based ensemble that
includes musicians from Syria, Tibet, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Belgium
who are united by their aspiration to intertwine links between their
music. The group has developed an
original repertoire that fuses various traditions.
Influences include Afghan, Tibetan, Arabic, Pakistani, and European music. Refugees for Refugees uses a wide range of musical instruments, including nomadic Tibetan chants, the South Asian sarod, Arabic ud and Middle Eastern percussion.
The lineup in 2019 included Asad Qizilbash on sarod (Pakistan), Aren Dolma on vocals (Tibet), Fakher Madallal on vocals, percussion (Syria), Kelsang Hula on dramyen, vocals (Tibet), Mohammad Aman Yusufi on dambura, vocals (Afghanistan), Simon Leleux on percussion (Belgium), Souhad Najem on qanun (Iraq), Tammam Al Ramadan on ney (Syria), Tareq Alsayed Yahya on ud (Syria) and Tristan Driessens on ud (Belgium).
Amina, the second album by the Belgium-based world music collective Refugees for Refugees is the number one album in the May 2019 Transglobal World Music Chart.
The Refugees for Refugees ensemble includes acclaimed musicians from Syria, Tibet, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Belgium. After the debut album ’Amerli’ in 2016, 10 of the musicians that took part in the recordings formed a band under the artistic direction of Tristan Driessens.
The line includes Asad Qizilbash (Pakistan) on sarod; Aren Dolma (Tibet) on vocals; Fakher Madallal (Syria) on vocals and percussion; Kelsang Hula (Tibet) on dramyen and vocals; Mohammad Aman Yusufi (Afghanistan) on dambura, vocals; Simon Leleux (Belgium) on percussion; Souhad Najem (Iraq) on qanun; Tammam Al Ramadan (Syria) on ney; Tareq Alsayed Yahya (Syria) on ud; Tristan Driessens (Belgium) on ud.
Refugees for Refugees – Amina (Muziekpublique, 2019)
It’s become fairly standard to sum up a person’s life in a single moment. We catch a glimpse of the face as some person crosses a border, disembarks from a ship or jockeys for space in a refugee camp and we sum up that life.
There are some who would chalk up the refugee story by making it part and parcel to tragedy, war or desperate circumstances, while the less sympathetic would see an unwanted burden. But that’s never the whole story. We don’t see bread bakers, engineers, nurses or store owners where the family’s store has successfully existed and operated for and by generation after generation of the same family. We certainly don’t see the keepers of traditional craft work like carving or needlework or artists or musicians. We dismiss the back story of the refugee, that life before being uprooted, and perhaps the most precious of that life. It is with some sadness that I think we might be truly missing out.
It’s somewhere in here that
Muziekpubique, a non-profit organization in Belgium, has seen this missed
opportunity. Running a program promoting folk and world music by way of
concerts, music lessons and a record label. This clever organization and label
has teamed up musicians from Pakistan, Tibet, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and
Belgium to create Refugees for Refugees, resulting in a second release of the
recording called Amina, in support of Muziekpublique and Cinemaximiliaan, a
kind of cross cultural crossroads for refugees in a Brussels park where refugees
can get information, find friends and even watch a movie or find a creative
While the good deeds of Refugees for Refugees might be incentive enough to support this project, the better bet is to support this wonderful music. Amina is full of delightful surprises and lush pleasures. Composing and arranging most of the music on Amina by members of Refugees for Refugees, this collaboration where one musical tradition is seamlessly enfolded in another, sometimes in improbable combinations, comes across as wholly organic.
Pooling the talents of Pakistan’s Asad Qizilbash on sarod, Tibet’s Dolma Renqingi on vocals, Syria’s Fakher Madallal on vocals and percussion, Tibet’s Kelsang Hula on dramyen and vocals, Afghanistan’s Mohammad Aman Yusufi on dambura and vocals, Belgium’s Simon Leleux on oriental percussion, Iraq’s Souhad Najem on qanun, Syria’s Tamman Al Ramadan on ney, Syria’s Tareq Alsayed Yahua on ud and Belgium’s Tristan Driessens on ud Amina flows free in that otherworldly space where musicians, regardless of their country or tradition, meet and commune, that place where all the good things in music happen.
Hooking listeners from the
opening strains of “Perahan,” Amina dazzles with a heady mix of vocals, ud and
ney. And, the tracks just get better with “Semki Molem” with its rich
combination of deep male chorus against the soaring vocals of Aren Dolma. The
ud laced “Qad Hijaz” is just as powerfully stunning as “Kesaro Sarko.”
Other goodies include the
sarod and quanun rich “Punarjanm,” “Tonshak” with its scratchy throat singing
against Tibetan vocals by Ms. Dolma and musical combination of sarod, dramyen,
ud, ney and bendir and all the glorious quanum riches of “Shuq.” “Tales of the
Mountain” will raise the hairs on the back of your neck it’s that good, just as
simple pleasures of sarod and dholla will delight on “After the Dust.” And
still the goodies just keep coming with “Rose Gate,” “Wasla Qudud Bayati”
“Lhasa” and closing track “Chaman Chaman.”
With Amina, supporting a good cause never sounded so good.
Belgium-based world music ensemble Refugees for Refugees has
announced the release of its second album ‘Amina.’ The ensemble will present the
new recording at Ancienne Belgique (Brussels) on Saturday, February, 16, 2019.
Refugees for Refugees brings together acclaimed musicians
from Syria, Tibet, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Belgium who are united by
their yearning to intertwine links between their music. The group has developed an original
repertoire at the crossroads between their different traditions.
Following two years of collaboration, this second album
writes a new chapter in the Refugees for Refugees story. It represents
reconstruction, the fresh energy needed to map out a new trajectory after being
Breaking down musical barriers, the group offers a rich menu of sounds, from lively Afghan traditional songs to the refinement of the classical tradition from Aleppo and Baghdad, through the pure power of nomadic Tibetan chants, the weightless sounds of the Pakistani sarod, the subtleties of the Turkish ud and eastern percussion.
The ensemble’s debut album Amerli hit the top of the Transglobal World Music Chart in 2016.
World Music Central presents the Best World Music Albums of 2016. First, we begin with our top 20:
1. Gerardo Núñez & Ulf Wakenius – Logos – ACT Music
2. Roberto Fonseca – ABUC – Impulse!
3. Bickram Ghosh – Maya, Bickram Ghosh’s Dedication to Ravi Shankar – East Meets West Music
4. Karsh Kale – Up – Six Degrees Records
5. Anoushka Shankar – Land of Gold – Deutsche Grammophon
6. Josemi Carmona & Javier Colina – De Cerca – Universal Music Spain
7. La Banda Morisca – Algarabya – Fol Música
8. Dawda Jobarteh – Transitional Times – Sterns Africa
9. Omar Sosa and Paolo Fresu – Eros – Tuk Music/Ota Records, 2016
10. Aziza Brahim – Abbar el Hamada – Glitterbeat Records
11. Jose Antonio Rodriguez – Adios Muchacho – Jose Antonio Rodriguez
12. Maarja Nuut – Une Meeles– Maarja Nuut
13. Las Hermanas Caronni – Navega Mundos – Les Grands Fleuves
14. Noura Mint Seymali – Arbina – Glitterbeat Records
15. Solas – All These Years – THL Records
16. Mor Karbasi – Ojos de Novia – Mintaka Music
17. Ana Alcaide – Leyenda – ARC Music
18. Harold López-Nussa – El Viaje – Mack Avenue Records
19. Lakou Mizik – Wa Di Yo – Cumbancha
20. Richard Bona & Mandekan Cubano – Heritage – Qwest Records
Next, the best 10 from the editor of the Spanish-language Músicas del Mundo online magazine, Rafael Mieses:
Lastly, we include s the Transglobal World Music Chart (TWMC), co-founded by World Music Central’s Angel Romero
TWMC Best Albums of 2016
1. Refugees for Refugees – Amerli – Muziekpublique
2. Bixiga 70 – III – Glitterbeat Records
3. Aziza Brahim – Abbar el Hamada – Glitterbeat Records
4. Noura Mint Seymali – Arbina – Glitterbeat Records
5. Constantinople & Ablaye Cissoko – Jardins Migrateurs – Ma Case
6. Rokia Traoré – Né So – Nonesuch Records
7. Elza Soares – The Woman at the End of the World / A Mulher do Fim do Mundo – Mais Um Discos
8. Yo-Yo Ma & Silk Road Ensemble – Sing Me Home – Sony Masterworks
9. Kayhan Kalhor, Aynur, Cemîl Qoçgirî & Salman Gambarov – Hawniyaz – Harmonia Mundi
10. Bonga – Recados de Fora – Lusafrica
11. Harold López-Nussa – El Viaje – Mack Avenue Records
12. Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Segal – Musique de Nuit – Nø Førmat! / Six Degrees Records
13. Kristi Stassinopoulou & Stathis Kalyviotis – Nyn – Riverboat Records
14. Ana Alcaide – Leyenda – ARC Music
15. Sam Lee & Friends – The Fade in Time – The Nest Collective
16. Richard Bona & Mandekan Cubano – Heritage – Qwest Records
17. Lakou Mizik – Wa Di Yo – Cumbancha
18. Bombino – Azel – Partisan Records
19. The Gloaming – 2 – Real World Records
20. Las Hermanas Caronni – Navega Mundos – Les Grands Fleuves