Sultans of String, a Canadian fusion music group with overseas roots, have teamed up with UNHCR, the United Nations Agency for Refugees in Canada, to help traumatized people worldwide as they flee war and other humanitarian disasters.
The holiday season fundraising effort during the world music band's current North American tour will see 10 percent of CD sales and 10 percent of concert proceeds donated to the UNHCR, which helps coordinate the international response to global refugee and migrant flows.
Sultans of String's manager Lisa Weitz tells Samaritanmag at each show the group has a banner, a booth with a donation box, magazines, postcards, pens, stickers, and makes two announcements from stage about the cause and call for donations.
"They would have liked to donate a greater percentage, but they didn’t get any local/provincial/federal grants this year for this tour so all expenses of the sextet — and some special guests— come out of the tix and CD sales," she says.
To date, the Sultans of String have raised $2000 on their UNHCR page, towards their $5000 goal to provide shelter, food, water, medical care and other survival aid to the world's growing population of asylum-seekers, internally displaced people and stateless people.
The U.N. agency supports and protects refugees forced to flee their homes due to violence, conflict and persecution.
Current UNHCR statistics point to around 71.44 million people worldwide that raise concerns owing to being displaced from their homes or countries because of conflict, human rights violations or man-made disasters.
In that total population is around 19.9 million refugees, mainly from Africa, the Middle East, including Iraq and Syria and now resident mostly in Turkey and Jordan, and the Indian subcontinent, especially Pakistan and Bangladesh.
"They have every right to live a safe and dignified life as much as we do! By supporting us with this meaningful cause, you will help me meet our goal to provide life-saving assistance to refugees all over the world through UNHCR," Sultans of String, whose fusion sounds include Spanish Flamenco, Arabic folk, Cuban rhythms and Gypsy-jazz in their songs, say on their fund-raising page for the UNHCR.
The holiday season fund-raising by the Canadian fusion group comes as refugees in the Middle East and North Africa are seeing temperatures drop and becoming liable to frostbite and hypothermia, and refugees from central America at the U.S.-Mexican border and refugees attempting to enter Europe via its Mediterranean borders are creating humanitarian ping-pong crises for aid groups and the UNHCR.
Among the support currently provided by the UNHCR are winter essentials like warm clothing and thermal blankets for those struggling to survive.
The Sultans of String's fundraising tour — which began Nov. 22 and runs until Dec. 23 (see itinerary below) — also coincides with the release of the Christmas Caravan CD, which features artists like Rebecca Campbell, Juno winners Alex Cuba and Crystal Shawanda, Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains,jazz singer Nikki Yanofsky and Grammy winners Sweet Honey in the Rock.
The Christmas album, explains band leader Chris McKhool, who has roots in the Middle East via his Lebanese and Egyptian parents, aims to explore the roots of world music.
"We explored diverse genres, from Quebecois fiddle tunes to collaborating with a traditional Turkish string ensemble, and jump around from the classic sounds of the Andrews Sisters, to a Himalayan sleigh ride, African roots music, Gypsy-jazz, rumba flamenco, ska, and the grandeur of the symphony," McKhool, who is also a violinist and a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient, said in a statement.
The Sultans of String's musical diversity also saw the group have one of its songs, "Snake Charmer," included in the score for new film Hotel Mumbai, the Dev Patel-starring drama that recounts the real-life victims and survivors of the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008.
Nov 29 - Invermere BC -- Pynelogs Cultural Centre-Columbia Valley Arts
Dec 1/2 – Cranbrook BC -- Symphony of the Kootenays
Dec 3 – Golden BC -- Kicking Horse Culture
Dec 4 – Trail BC -- Charles Bailey Theatre
Dec 5 – Vancouver BC -- Centennial Theatre
Dec 7 - Maple Ridge BC -- ACT Arts Centre
Dec 12 – Picton ON -- Regent Theatre
Dec 13 – Markham ON -- Flato Markham Theatre
Dec 14 -- Sudbury ON -- Collège Boréal Concert Hall
Dec 15 - Welland ON -- Welland-Port Colborne Concert Assn
Dec 16 – London ON -- Aeolian Hall
Dec 17 – Lindsay ON -- Academy Theatre
Dec 18 – Ottawa ON -- NAC Studio Theatre
Dec 19 – Bellows Falls VT -- Stone Church Center
Dec 20 – Norfolk CT -- Infinity Hall
Dec 21 – Stroudsburg PA -- Chester Concerts
Dec 22 – Boston MA -- Extended Play Sessions
Dec 23 – Cazenovia NY -- Catherine Cummings Theater