We’re ramping up for tomorrow’s concert at the refugee camp in Calais, France. We’ll perform on the slanted ramp of a horse trailer converted into a wifi bus. Three short sets will feature Omer the outstanding Sudanese singer, Kasper the Iraqi rapper, Moira Smiley, and the American and Belgian EAR singers.
Omer (yellow scarf) needs no coaching. Every day, he uplifts the Sudanese community by leading traditional circle-singing. Yesterday, they sang and danced to celebrate the arrival of 100 migrants from the camp to the UK through some mysterious smuggling feat. What joy they express for their friends who will now have a better chance of work and safety!
Expressive Arts Refuge has shifted the focus of our daily music classes from learning and sharing songs to performing them.
Palestinian-American Tawfic (blue shirt) and Sudanese Bakree (middle) discuss how to share the role of MC. People from twenty countries live here. Many won’t understand the lyrics; the music will have to carry a message, a narrative, a feeling.
Sahlee never shows up for rehearsals. Just when we decide he’s opting out of guitar accompaniment for our youth singers, we find French volunteer Mathieu coaching him on I Wish I Knew How It would Feel to be Free. If Sahlee is not hunting down a door for his tent or a hammer to secure the door, his guitar practice should result in a solid performance. Two months agom he picked up a guitar for the first time. For weeks he’s said, ‘This is hard,’ to which we reply, ‘You can do it.’
We’re working with the generous musicians, producers and sound engineers at Calais Sessions, and the wifi bus for power and recording. Among the missing amenities in Calais Jungle is electricity.
How can we thank the people who make this concert and so much else in the camp possible? We start by thanking them here.