Washington DC, 30 October 2017 – Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees mounted a successful two week, eight-city tour, beginning in Seattle, on October 3 and ending in Dallas, October 15. Lampedusa, designed to spotlight the global refugee crisis, was produced by Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, in partnership with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The tour raised awareness and money to support expanded educational opportunities for displaced people through JRS's Global Education Initiative (GEI).
This year’s tour featured a revolving cast of singer-songwriters, performing all acoustic shows and featured Joan Baez, Brandi Carlile, Lila Downs, Steve Earle, Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, Dave Matthews, Buddy Miller, Alynda Segarra, The Mastersons, James McMurtry, David Pulkingham, Lucinda Williams, with guest appearances by Iraqi oud player, Rahim AlHaj, Justin Townes Earle, Aaron Lee Tasjan, and the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, who joined the Lampedusa ensemble on the stage of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco.
Each of the concerts showcased the artists together on stage, collaborating musically and exchanging stories, often relating their songs to the subject of displaced people. Every night, the show opened with the late Tom Petty’s song “Refugee,” and ended with a moving, all-cast rendition”” of Steve Earle’s “Pilgrim, “which Earle introduced by stating, “Everybody, no matter where they come from, no matter what color they are, no matter what language they speak, no matter who or what they call God, deserves to have a home. We are all pilgrims and we are all just trying to get home.”
After attending the Lampedusa show in Los Angeles and meeting with the artists, Fr. Tom Smolich, S.J., JRS International Director, remarked, “Lampedusa II was incredible!” “What an experience of artistic passion and excellence joined to the critical human issue of our time. JRS is deeply grateful to all the artists and backstage crew that made this a reality. As the closing number from the concerts reminds us, we are all pilgrims on the road. Lampedusa II helped us pilgrim together.”]
Grammy-winners Patty Griffin and Emmylou Harris, along with Earle, spearheaded the tour, which was prompted by their concern for the plight of refugees and 2016 visits by Harris to JRS’s programs in Ethiopia, and Griffin’s to witness the work of the Kino Border Initiative on behalf of deportees, on the U.S-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona and Sonora, Mexico.
Legendary folk singer Joan Baez, who joined this year’s tour in Los Angeles, described her motivation for getting involved with JRS to Forbes Magazine: “It comes from an inspiration and then from the Jesuits, who have a really good record on a lot of things.”
David Robinson, Executive Director of JRS/USA, stated that “JRS/USA is enormously grateful for the contribution of time and talent of each of the artists, crew, and everyone who helped make this tour possible. More importantly, we are grateful they embraced our message -- that it is both our privilege and responsibility to help refugees, especially the youngest refugees who deserve to heal, learn, and thrive. We hope everyone we touched through the concerts listened and appreciated the extraordinary performances and will take this message to heart.”
To donate to the Global Education Initiative, please click here.
Thanks to the artists and their management for making this year’s Lampedusa possible! JRS/USA is also grateful for the efforts and commitment of many friends and supporters of Lampedusa this year: Lisa Ross and Tracy Mathews, APCO Worldwide; Olga and Alberto Beeck; Bellarmine College Preparatory, Ken Weinstein and Jillian Santella, Big Hassle Media; Robert Billingsley; Gilbert Ford, artist; Dawn Holliday and the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival; Dina Dusko, Lisa Laack, and Frank Riley, High Road Touring; Alexander Leff; Loyola Marymount University; Carolyn Rosenfeld, Captain of Making it Happen; St. Joseph’s Parish and School (Seattle), Santa Clara University, Larry Simon; Starbucks Foundation, University of San Francisco, David Macias and Thirty Tigers; the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and artist Gilbert Ford.