Refugee Songs is a unique concert experience that weaves together an original world fusion and acoustic-rock musical score with spoken word poetry and storytelling to narrate the journey of a young Persian American musician uprooted from Iran after the 1979 Revolution and his subsequent struggle to create a new home for himself in the United States. Interwoven with spoken word poetry inspired by oral histories gathered from refugees living in Southern California, Refugee Songs offers an intimate close-up on one young man’s experience of childhood displacement and coming of age as well as wide-angle poetic musings on the triumphs and tribulations that many displaced people experience—albeit differently—in their own journeys. Delving deeply into the ways that music serves to keep alive displaced refugees’ cherished memories of their lost homelands, while offering strength, comfort and inspiration in their sometimes-elusive search for identity and belonging in the U.S., Refugee Songs is a poignant and powerful meditation on universal themes of cultural identity, family, inter-generational trauma and loss, as well as resilience, self-acceptance, and the healing power of love.
Inspired by violinist and songwriter Bahman Sarram’s experience fleeing Iran with his family following the Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power, Refugee Songs is a creative collaboration between Sarram and his band, the Mystic Groove Collective, and scriptwriter Anita Casavantes Bradford, associate professor of Chicano Latino Studies and History at the University of California Irvine.
Since 2002, Bahman Sarram and the Mystic Groove Collective have been performing a dynamic fusion of world rhythms, featuring heart-piercing violin and guitar solos and soaring harmonies, for audiences in California and across the United States. Featuring Sarram on electric violin, guitar and vocals, Mark “Reverend Stickman” Schmitt on guitars and vocals, Dan Ochipinti on world percussion and vocals, Sheava Rahimi on piano and vocals, and Emmy Award winning guitarist and singer/songwriter T.J. Moss on bass guitar, the Mystic Groove Collective prides itself on offering concert goers a conscious, inclusive and culturally diverse musical experience at all their shows.
An internationally published author, educator and immigrant rights activist, Anita Casavantes Bradford (herself an immigrant to the United States) drew upon her scholarly expertise as a historian of immigration and critical refugee studies and her deep empathy and respect for southern California’s immigrant and refugee communities in creating the script and original spoken word poetry featured in Refugee Songs.
Thanks to generous funding support from the University of California Critical Refugee Studies Collective—tickets to the opening night of Refugee Songs will be offered free of charge, on a first come first served basis. However, seating is limited, and all guests must present a ticket for admission. Tickets are available online at: http://www.refugeesongs.world