Rock for Refugees concert to take place in downtown Dearborn

This Sunday, April 2, musicians of a wide range of sounds and backgrounds are joining together to play the Rock for Refugees concert in downtown Dearborn. The concert, which will also feature an art auction and food trucks, takes place at the Arab American National Museum from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

All proceeds from the event will benefit two local groups: Freedom House, a temporary and safe home for asylum seekers, and ACCESS and their Take on Hate campaign, a grassroots campaign to challenge the discrimination and misconception of Arab and Muslim Americans, including refugees.

The scheduled performers are varied and many. Included in the line-up is a pairing of world musician Sean Blackman and Detroit blues singer Thornetta Davis, Detroit rock band Casual Sweetheart, the Foundation for Women in Hip Hop, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Youth Jazz Ensemble, to name just a few.

Ismael Ahmed suggested the idea for the concert and helped organize it. And if there's anyone qualified to do so, it's Ahmed. Currently the Vice Provost at University of Michigan-Dearborn and also the host of the radio program This Island Earth on 101.9 WDET-FM, Ahmed helped start the Concert of Colors, now in its 25th year. Ahmed also organized Rock Against Racism concerts and was the director of the Michigan Department of Human Services during Governor Jennifer Granholm's administration.

"Culture is a powerful force," says Ahmed. "There's a reason musicians fill giant concert halls and lecturers attract 100 people. These events appeal to the brain and the heart."

In coming up with the idea for the benefit concert, Ahmed was inspired by recent demonstrations at the country's airports, protesting President Trump's immigration ban, and the Women's March on Washington. A concert is just one more way to demonstrate the power of community.

"Some will come for the music and others will come for the cause," says Ahmed. "Hopefully the synergy of that moves us forward."

Tickets for the Rock for Refugees concert can be purchased online. More information, including a full line-up, is available on the Facebook event page.

The Arab American National Museum is located at 13624 Michigan Ave. in Dearborn.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.