Monday, 21 May 2012

May 2012
PRESS RELEASE: for immediate release

Sahara Nights:
Ken Loach endorses small charity’s ambitious LONDON launch of Studio-Live, a project aiming to give forgotten Saharawi refugees a voice through music

Date: June 6, 2012, 7:00pm-10:30pm (doors open at 6:30pm)
Venue: Studio-Theatre, Roundhouse, London  Tickets: £15-25

“Studio-Live is a great idea. The music of the Saharawi’s will inspire many to take up their cause and also enjoy their performances. Good luck to the project” Ken Loach (Sandblast Patron)

On June 6, 2012, the Roundhouse Studio-Theatre will be transported to the Sahara under a canopy of authentic tent material made by Saharawi refugee women, hosting a spectacular line-up of live music and spoken word acts, supporting music-making for freedom. Featuring special guest artist Aziza Brahim from Western Sahara, the event launches Sandblast’s ambitious music empowerment project  Studio-Live. The initiative aims to engage UK-based musicians, producers, technicians, and music industry specialists in building a Saharawi music industry from scratch in the refugee camps in the Algerian desert.

The indigenous Saharawi people were displaced when Morocco occupied their native homeland of Western Sahara in 1975. Since then they have been struggling to gain international attention and support for their self-determination cause. Sandblast's mission is to empower the Saharawis to tell their own story through creative expression.

Sandblast charity’s founding director, Danielle Smith, says: “Studio-Live is responding to overwhelming Saharawi aspirations to express their struggle peacefully through the arts. There is abundant musical talent in the refugee camps crying out for recognition but with little opportunity or means to develop." Over the next three years Studio-Live intends to equip refugee artists with the resources and training to be able to record, showcase and promote their music at levels not previously achievable in the camps. The project also hopes to encourage international music collaborations and the production of more high-calibre music such as the much-acclaimed Sandtracks debut album by Saharawi refugee band Tiris.

“The album Sandtracks by Tiris stands out from the crowd…What’s more, the Sandblast project [Studio-Live] that is behind this CD release are moving mountains to engage with musicians in the Saharawi camps in a meaningful and long-term way, and for that they deserve respect and support.” Andy Morgan (writer, Africa Express online)


Founding director, Danielle Smith at or call 07838 463 310
Press officer, Rachel Zoldan or call 07713 652 217



Artists and partners supporting Sahara Nights Compered by Dan Tsu from Lyrix Organix, the evening will include the divine Congolese British vibes of Ruby and the Vines, short Saharawi stories and poems presented by playwright Inua Ellams, the inimitable Venzuelan singer Luzmira Zerpa with her Family Atlantica, mesmerizing Gambian kora player Mosi Conde, Celtic violinist Lizzie Ogle, Karim Dellali from El Andaluz and special guest artist Aziza Brahim from Western Sahara. She recently won the Best Soundtrack award for the movie Wilaya at the 2012 Fisahara International film festival. Hispano-Saharawi singer Suilma Aali and young Saharawi journalist Asria Taleb will be present, too.

Audiences will also have the chance to be immersed in the Saharawi world through photography by Ed Harriman (showing a rare collection of images taken in 1976 in the early days of the Saharawi exodus), Bernat Millet and award-winning Andrew McConnell, and preview clips from two new films, The Runner, by Saeed Taji Farouky, and the portrait of poetess Lkhadra Mabruk, Aziza Brahim’s grandmother, by Noë Mendelle. Key partners for the launch are FairTunes, Lyrix OrganixRefugee Radio, SOAS Radio, The Moringa Tree and Roundhouse. Fairtunes is Sandblast’s main partner for Studio-Live in the camps for the setting up of the sound recording studio and providing sound engineering training.

Sahara Nights is supported by a grant from Arts Council England.

Aziza Brahim is regarded one of the most talented musical voices from Western Sahara. She was born in the Saharawi refugee camps, but spent many years studying in Cuba. This influenced her music, an innovative blend of traditional Saharawi hawl, West African rhythms and Latin Jazz. Singing in Hassania, the native language of her homeland, and Spanish, Aziza has been a fantastic ambassador for the Saharawi cause, dedicating all her singing to her people. Many of her songs are influenced by the breath-taking poetry of her grandmother, Lkhadra Mabruk. Aziza’s new album, Mabruk, which will be released in June, is an homage to her and her great labour as commentator of the 16 years of Saharawi war. For more information, click here.

Studio-Live  is an innovative music empowerment initiative being set up in the Saharawi refugee camps in South-West Algeria, being led by UK-based charity Sandblast in close partnership with Fairtunes, SOAS Radio, The Moringa Tree and the Saharawi Ministry of Culture in the refugee camps. The initiative is already generating wide support from personalities such as Ken Loach, Robin Denselow, Emmanuel Jal, Carlos Reyes Manzos and more. Funds raised will go towards facilitating the flowering of professional music-making in the camps.

Sandblast is an arts and human rights charity working with the indigenous people from Western Sahara, the Saharawis, whose identity and culture is threatened by the impact of exile and Morocco’s occupation. Sandblast’s mission is to empower the Saharawis to tell their own story through the arts.

Background history Western Sahara is the last colony in Africa and the site of a protracted territorial dispute between the Moroccan kingdom which claims sovereignty and the Polisario Front, the Saharawi liberation movement which seeks independence. The majority of the Saharawis are refugees today in one of the harshest deserts in the world. Despite extreme hardships, the Saharawi refugee community has managed to build a democratically-run nation-in-exile, where women play a prominent role, defying Western preconceptions of Arab-Muslim societies. Thousands more Saharawis live under Morocco’s occupation in Western Sahara, deprived of their basic human rights. 

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