WHEN: Video Premiere – Friday April 9, 2021 at 10:30 am EST
SONG: Ojhri Camp, from album Refuge
Sultans of String, featuring Anwar Khurshid & Ravi Naimpally
Go to the video on YouTube at this link https://youtu.be/L4TQs_WGbNI to SET REMINDER for the premiere.
[Toronto ON] Sultans of String are releasing this song to coincide with the April 10 anniversary of the Ojhri Camp disaster that occurred at a military storage centre located in Rawalpindi Military District in Rawalpindi, Punjab Province of Pakistan on April 10, 1988. It was used as an ammunition depot for Afghan Mujahideen fighting against Soviet forces from Afghanistan. The camp exploded, killing more than 1,300 people as a result of rockets and other munitions expelled by the blast.
Sultans of String collaborator, Anwar Khurshid, was working and living nearby, and tells his version of the tragedy, followed by the music it inspired. This song was composed as a collaboration between Anwar, along with violinist and bandleader Chris McKhool, and fellow Sultans of String bandmates Kevin Laliberté, Drew Birston, and Rosendo “Chendy” Leon.
As Anwar recalls: “In 1988 when the Afghan war had just ended in Rawalpindi Islamabad, the capital there was an ammunition depot where ammo was stored. There was a fire and the stored missiles and bombs just started flying around. These were huge bombs, like some were like bigger than this room and they would just fly off and land within the city. They would cause havoc and huge destruction, huge amount of destruction wherever they would fall. Fortunately the fuses had been sort of pulled off so that they didn’t explode but nevertheless they would just fly off and they would destroy houses. You know, people were injured, people died and there were like hundreds of bombs that actually flew away, and hit the cities.
So it was during the day, I was in Islamabad. I was actually tutoring someone in mathematics, so when this started to happen I came out and I thought we were in a war because these missiles would just go “zzzhhhh”. I had a motorbike and I took this kid and I said well it’s time to go, so we started going towards his home where I was going to deliver him to his family. So when we got there to our horror, there was a bomb sticking through the main living area, like you could see parts of the bomb. Apparently it had hit their house and it had circled around a few times, destroyed everything inside the house, and was just sitting there. Like, the furniture was in bits. Everything inside was just like little pieces. After I left the kid as I’m driving towards my place now I’m actually going in the direction where the bombs are emanating from. It was very scary actually… As I was driving my bike one of my tires blew but I didn’t care I just kept driving and it was utter chaos.”
THIS IS A SONG FROM SULTANS OF STRING ALBUM: REFUGE
Internationally awarded and honoured Canadian band Sultans of String collaborates with over 30 musicians on REFUGE, “a fantastic, moving, dreamlike, epic, timely album.” – Ken Micallef (Jazz Times, Stereophile, Downbeat).
Addressing the struggles of life on Mother Earth has always inspired Sultans of String. On this visionary seventh album, Refuge, they bring their unique brand of musical synergy and collaboration to bear on 13 songs that speak to the challenges facing the world’s displaced peoples–their stories, their songs, their persistence and their humanity.
Joined by an international cast, some of whom are recent immigrants to North America, the celebrated quintet immerses themselves in the plight of the international refugee, and the humanitarian response that should greet everyone in search of a home.
“This project is centred around the positive contributions of refugees and new immigrants to U.S.A. and Canada” says bandleader Chris McKhool (ancestral name Makhoul), whose Lebanese grandfather stowed away on a ship bound for North America a century ago.
“We’re collaborating with special guests on the album who are newcomers to this land, Indigenous artists, as well as global talents who have been ambassadors for peace. We wish to celebrate the successes of those who make the journey here and bring their extraordinary talents with them. We hope the conversations we can have as musicians will provide a model for peace that will inspire our politicians and citizens.”
FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1068966553598746
BUY/LISTEN NOW: http://smarturl.it/RefugeAlbum
REFUGE EPK: https://spark.adobe.com/page/nTMPzB2pbSPyP
Sultans of String gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts – Digital Originals program. #BringingTheArtsToLife
Refuge was recorded thanks to the support of Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council, with Marketing support from FACTOR.