Classes Connect Refugees with Minneapolis Music

November 05, 2017 06:15 PM

(KSTP) -- A Minneapolis company is bringing together Twin Cities refugees through music. 

Slam Academy launched a new program on Saturday called Music Unite Minneapolis. Thousands of refugees live in Minnesota, and many live in Minneapolis. One, in particular, knows what it's like to start a new life in the United States, and he's doing his part to make everyone feel welcome. 


For Samer Saim Aldhr, music gives him life.

"I can take this comfort zone everywhere I go," Aldhr, a refugee and electronic music star, said.

Aldhr grew up in Syria but left for Lebanon when his hometown was ravaged by civil war.

"Since I left Aleppo, music has been an exit from everything that was happening," Aldhr said. 

Aldhr followed the beat, and his wife to Minneapolis, which he's called home for the past two years.

"It took me some time to kind of adjust to life around here," Aldhr said.  

That's where J. Anthony Allen comes in. He runs Slam Academy, a school offering a wide range of electronic music classes.

"There (are) refugees coming here from all over the place," Allen said. "We're always working on ways to let more and more people know that we want them here."

After hearing Aldhr's music and story, the two joined together to form a class just for refugees. 

"Negative things are often said about them and I just thought let's do something fun," Allen said. 

On Saturday, inspired by a program in Germany, they kicked off Music Unite Minneapolis.

"I think that's why I really wanted someone like Samer to be the teacher of the class because he has the authority to know more directly what these people are experiencing," Allen said. 

Those attending preferred privacy, so 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS caught up with the duo before class. Allen says they plan to offer this free three-week course to anyone in hopes of helping them feel included through music.

"It's a bit of escapism, is what I'm hoping for a little bit," Allen said. 

Through music, Aldhr never forgets where he came from, but he wants other refugees to feel proud of where they came from and feel comfortable in a new home.

"I'm really passionate about music and I really want to spread this kind of knowledge to people that share the same kind of experience that I had," Aldhr said.

This class is open to all skill levels of electronic music and will take place over the next two weeks.


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