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African Refugees Escape War-Torn Country, Inspire with Music -- Eric Alvarez

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- From African Battlefields to the Music City stage. 

Members of Sierra Leones Refugee All Stars lost loved ones to civil war in their home country.  Some of them also lost limbs, but they didn't let that keep them from making music.

     An upbeat sound from the band's smiling faces echoed through 3rd and Lindsley Wednesday.  Its hard to believe the joyous rhythm came from such dark memories.

Shooting and bombing everywhere, said Reuben Korome, band leader.  I lost my cousin and my father.

Korome says an ever-advancing army of rebels forced him from his home in 1998.

I walked for 30 miles and then arrived to a safer place, Korome said.

That safer place was a refugee camp in Guinea in West Africa.

"Living in a refugee camp is not like being in your hometown where you can turn around and see family, you have a nice bed or you have good food to eat...it's not like that, said a band member who goes by the stage name Black Nature.

Black Nature wandered to the camp after he watched, helplessly as rebels executed his father when he was only a boy.

Korome realized the camp was full of lost souls just like him.  Thats when he decided not to let the sadness win.

Korome recruited musicians, several of them missing limbs.  They picked up whatever instrument they could, and slowly, the smiles returned.

Music helped them greatly during that time, Korome said.

That small band is now ten years old.  The scars  are still there, but the stage is a much brighter place.

It's been an amazing experience, Black Nature said.  You get to travel places around the world meet beautiful people with beautiful spirits.  It's been a blessing.

Click here to learn more about the band.

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