Elgin concert will spotlight Syrian cause
For the Chicago band Bassel & The Supernaturals, music has become a way to make a real difference by spotlighting the plight of war-torn Syria.
That's why Elgin's First United Methodist Church asked the neosoul and funk band to kick off its "Concerts for a Cause" series on Saturday, with proceeds going to the Karam Foundation in Lake Forest, a nonprofit that funds education and sustainable development for Syrians. The band has been contributing 20 percent of sales from its latest CD to the foundation.
The goal is to unite communities thorough music, church outreach committee co-chairwoman Sue Broxham said.
"Music can be a vehicle to let different communities realize how much we have in common, and how much we can learn from each other," Broxham said.
Syrian-American singer Bassel Almadani said the band -- which performed twice at the prestigious South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas -- is all about great music, and is committed to raising humanitarian awareness. The band will perform two sets, and Almadani will hold a question-and-answer session in between.
"I'm not coming with a full-force political agenda," he said. "Our whole mission is humanitarian-centered and saving lives. I think we can all get on board with the fact that innocent people shouldn't be dying."
Almadani was born and raised in Ohio; his parents are from the Syrian city of Aleppo, where he has lots of relatives who have endured terribly difficult living conditions with a positive, resilient attitude, he said.
Some of his songs are about Syria -- uplifting, funky songs based on his childhood memories, and darker ones about crisis and loss. Others center on themes of love and even the complexities of corporate life, which he just left to pursue a freelance career, he said.
Broxham said she found out about the band from her son, who is a bass player. When she saw on Facebook that the band played at First United Methodist Church in Wichita, Kansas, she realized maybe she could get them to Elgin, she said.
"Some people say, 'Why would a Christian community be reaching out to help raise funds for a predominantly Muslim country?'" Broxham said. "Well, Syria is not all Muslim, and the point is that these are people who are displaced. That's one of the connections we are hoping will happen. We're hoping people will learn more about what's happening with these refugees."
The concert will take place in the church's sanctuary, where the band will play in the altar area surrounded by pews and a wraparound balcony. "It's a stunning venue," Broxham said. "We have a stage in the church basement but we made the decision that we want to lift it up all the way."
First United Methodist Church is at 216 E. Highland Ave., Elgin. Tickets are $15 each or $12 for groups of 10 or more; visit fumecelgin.org.