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The Calais Sessions - 2016

On October 24, 2016, the dismantling of the "Jungle of Calais" began, the largest makeshift migrant camp in Europe, with more than 7000 refugees who had been forced to flee their homes, most of them wanting to cross to United Kingdom through the Eurotunnel. A year earlier, a group of artists went the other way, wanting to do something to fight the humanitarian crisis that was unfolding a few kilometers from their homes. The result was The Calais Sessions, an album recorded by the inhabitants of "La Jungla", whose objective was to involve the people who lived in the countryside in a project that would increase their self-esteem, channeling their talent through music.
It all started with the photo of the corpse of Aylan, aged three, on a Turkish beach. Vanessa Lucas-Smith, a British cellist, reacted with more than compassion. The following weekend he landed in Calais with a group of artists. "Our first intention was personal: to understand what was happening, who those people were. But we were convinced that there would be music, and musicians, among the refugees. An hour after arriving - the cellist says - already a couple of Syrian musicians from London had formed a group with two compatriots from the field. And two days later they recorded the first cut ". Lucas-Smith is a cellist at the AllegriQuartet in London (and one of the main promoters of the project) and through the album he has understood that when "you give people instruments, they become something like bread, water or coal, it is something they really need, "he tells The New York Times.
The album opens with "TheLost Singer". For Moheddin, author of the song and singer with an extraordinary voice, that served as a passport: today she lives in London on her job, a tailor. "Khandahar" is an Afghan-Kurdish co-production, written in Farsi by two Afghan sisters, one aged nine and the other twelve. The melody was composed with the help of two Kurdish refugees, drummers.
Kasper is a 25-year-old Iraqi refugee. She raps about love on "UniversityStory," but in Bagdag she was making jewelry. He had to flee his home and after a grueling three-week journey he reached Calais. Mohammed Ismail (who plays "Ismail") is Afghan and likes to play the dambora, a stringed instrument. But the Taliban did not like his hobby because "one day they heard me play at home, they put my right arm in boiling water and told me they did it because it was the arm I play with." Now Ismail plays an instrument similar to the cello that they have created with pieces found in the field and has managed to overcome bad memories.
During the recording of the disc, the team encountered many difficulties as in February the French authorities began to dismantle the field, which affected many of the people involved. A group of Eritrean women, at first a bit reluctant, decided to record a religious song called "Yezus". At the end they were so excited about the project that they wanted to record another song, but the next morning they got up and couldn't go to their church to pray, rehearse or get inspired, they had demolished it.
Mexico is present on this disco-planet thanks to Carolina Ferrer and Jesús Bellosta Flores, two volunteers who worked in the fields and who recorded "La llorona". Laura, from the collective The Calais Sessions, recalls in La Vanguardia that "we soon discovered that the refugees had enormous talent; their personal stories impressed us as much as the musical cultures that traveled with them. We decided that it was essential that these people integrate into our collective to transcribe their stories into music. And that it was another trip, but different, in which everyone - Syrians, Afghans, Sudanese, Eritreans - shared that world of coexistence and harmony that music proposes ".
The project, photographed by Sarah Hickson, was shot in a solar-powered home studio near the camp library. The technical aspects were also an odyssey, but DamienBarrière-Constantin, a 24-year-old sound engineer and co-founder of the initiative, managed to sound professional. For him the most important thing is not that "people listen to us", but that "refugees can listen to what they have done themselves," he says.

The album, which also features the participation of Natalia Tena (Molotov Jukebox) and ÇiğdemAslan, can be purchased through their website, the proceeds of which go to the refugees themselves and to a British charity called Citizen UK.

Tracks list:
01. Moheddin Aljabi – The Lost Singer
02. Kasper King – University Story
03. Bogdan Vacarescu – Deskovo Oro
04. Danny Rowe – Sounds of the Jungle
05. Carolina Ferrer – La Llorona
06. Abdullah Kathin – YaRab´oun
07. Andy Kyte – Khandahar
08. The Evangelist Church Singers – Yesus
09. The Evangelist Church Singers – Halleluyah
10. Carl Burgess – Long Road
11. Mohammed Ismail – Ismail
12. Laurens Price-Nowak – Nothing
13. Natalia Tena – Every Heart That Loves

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