HOME: An Evening of Music Benefiting Syrian Refugees in the Beqaa Valley – Pasadena, CA



One of the first questions we often ask someone when we meet them (right after we learn their name) is, “Where are you from?” or “Where do you call home?” Defining home is not easy to do. It’s very subjective, and everyone has a different concept about what home means to them. For some, it’s a physical structure, a door to lock, a permanent address. For others, it’s wherever family gathers and memories are created.

To me, the concept of home encompasses several ideas. Home is a place that offers comfort and security, where I have what I need – a place of refuge. A safe space, a place where I can be one hundred percent me. My hometown in Ohio, the house in which I grew upmy current residence in Los Angeles, my husband’s embrace, the acceptance from friends, my Muay Thai gym, Sister Support – these are all ‘places’, ‘people’, ‘communities’, and a ‘mindset’ that I call home.

As a board member for Sister Support Non-Profit, I recognize that for many the state of home is constantly in flux, especially for those living in a state of war. Since March 2011, over 11 million Syrians have fled their homes – almost half the population. In Lebanon, there are over 2 million Syrian refugees, and only 1.3 million are registered with the UN Refugee Agency. In the Bekaa Valley, there are over 800,000 vulnerable Syrian refugees who have been living in a state of uncertainty for the past six years. Where is home for these people?

For the rest of 2017, Sister Support is committed to raising funds through the strategic programming of The Refugee Project to aid in the development of life-saving programs for Syrian Refugees in partnership with Lighthouse Peace Initiative Corp. (LPI Corp). LPI Corp is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising the quality of life for the most vulnerable Syrians living in Lebanon, Greece and Turkey. Their primary programs include medical, food and educational aid as well as community support. They, like Sister Support, believe in providing our fellow humans with basic needs and uplifting them through individualized and communal care. LPI Corp was founded by Elias Matar, an international volunteer and Syrian-American filmmaker. 

Our first event in support of Syrian refugees was held on April 30 from 6 – 8:30 pmWe opened our 2,000+ square foot space in Pasadena, The Warehouse on Prime, to musician Shana Tucker to create HOME: An Evening of Music Benefiting Syrian Refugees in the Bekaa Valley. Shana attended our 13th Screening and Panel discussion, hosted by Sister Support in partnership with Culture Honey in late February of this year. Shana was moved by our Refugee Project and had a vision for how she could support the cause. Sister Support seeks to empower women, female entrepreneurs and artists to realize their greatest potential. We had a space, and Shana had a vision of hosting a concert, and thus HOME was born. Sister Support was simply the conduit for Shana to actualize her plan.

HOME was an incredible evening of music hosted by Shana (cello, guitar, vocals), featuring singer-songwriters Steph Johnson (guitar, vocals), Shirazette Tinnin (drums/percussion), Maritri (guitar, keys, vocals), Amy Bormet (keys) and bassist Rob Thorsen.

More than 50 audience members of all ages and backgrounds joined us in person, and many more online through concert window, to share in this wonderfully intimate evening of Shana’s self-described genre of ChamberSoul™ – a rich combination of jazz, soulful folk and acoustic pop, woven into a unique rhythmic tapestry. Poet Natalie Patterson opened the evening with her poem “Syria”, setting the tone and bringing a strong awareness to why we were all gathered there in the first place. With the musicians backdropped from floor to ceiling with an excerpt from Natalie’s poem, we were reminded of the power of our support for the remainder of the evening.

There are bombs falling from the sky 

Every plane or helicopter overhead is a signal 

To run, to hide, to try and stay alive

How do you keep moving when nowhere is home?  

Push small boats filled with babies into oceans

Hoping the sea will love them better than this land and sky 

Layla’s father said he misses the water in his village 

There is no other water with that flavor and 

The truth is he may never taste it again

What can I offer them? How do I welcome them?

It was a heartwarming and emotionally uplifting evening. We melted into the acoustic intimacy that the musicians created, and it was both humbling and inspiring to witness firsthand the closeness and openness held within our space. I am proud to be a part of this family and to call Sister Support home. As a community we brought awareness through music and through our common love for music.

 If you’re interested in participating in Sister Supports The Refugee Project, please visit our website at SisterSupport.org.