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Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris and More Play ‘Skyville Live’ for Refugee Awareness

Skyville Live Lampedusa Concerts for Refugees
Rick Diamond (2), Getty Images

Steve Earle, Emmylou HarrisBuddy Miller and more performed for Skyville Live on Monday night (Sept. 26), as part of the Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees tour. The trek, which will run throughout October, is all about raising awareness about refugees around the world.

“[Lampedusa has] become a staging ground for people leaving one part of the world in the Mideast, because it’s collapsing,” Earle explained to The Boot of the small Italian island, located off the coast of Sicily, from which the tour takes its name. “My attitude is, a lot of the trouble that’s going on in that part of the world, we broke it, and we’re kind of obligated to fix it. So, as an American, I feel a responsibility to do whatever I can to help those people out, because I feel partially responsible by the fact that they don’t have any place to live.

“There are always refugees; they’re displaced by everything,” he adds. “Climate change displaces a lot of people. Refugees are coming from Africa because of drought, other parts of the world because of natural things. Storms create refugees. But war displaces more people than anything else.”

Harris, known for her humanitarian work supporting various charities and causes all over the globe, maintains that it’s her duty as an artist and a public figure to do all that she can to help those in need.

“I don’t think I’m unusual,” Harris states. “I think you’ll find, in the musician family, all of us are so grateful to be able to make a living making music. Really, it’s just incredibly rewarding, not just financially but just emotionally and creatively, that I think we almost feel guilty, that we want to give back, and so what we need are people that put together the structure, like my friends who put together the Lampedusa tour, so that they do the heavy lifting and we can at least show up, get the people in the seats, learn about the situation, which is, right now, it’s catastrophic.”

The singer has been educating herself on the plight of refugees and vows to keep fighting for them wherever she is given a platform.

“Sixty-five million displaced people in the world, and over 20 million of them literally can’t go home again, have no place to be. And it’s just not going to go away,” says Harris. “So what we can do is educate people and hopefully open their hearts and minds to do something — if nothing else, with their votes, with their voices, to say, ‘We want to help. We want to do something.’ So it’s an opportunity to try and give back in some way.”

Fresh off their stint opening for Miranda Lambert on her Keeper of the Flame Tour, the Brothers Osborne admitted at Skyville Live that performing with their own musical heroes was a dream come true, especially while supporting such a worthwhile cause.

“When I was a kid and I started playing music, it was because I wanted to do things like this. I didn’t really think about anything else,” TJ Osborne remembers. “Especially now, with our lives going really fast, we’re really busy: We’re playing a lot of shows, we’re doing a lot of really cool things, we’re traveling a ton. Every once in a while, it’s just cool to slow it down and realize, holy s–t — we’re playing a show with Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle and Buddy Miller, and these are people that I listened to when I was a kid.

“I never thought I’d get to meet them, much less share a stage with them,” he continues. “It really is mind-blowing. It’s one of those things — we knew it was coming up, and we knew it was really going to hit us as soon as we got here and got onstage with them. It hit us like a ton of bricks. We’re like, ‘This is happening. This is very, very cool for us.’”

For newcomers Margo Price and Colter Wall, the opportunity to perform with icons such as Earle and Harris was nerve-wracking, but too important to pass up.

“When I heard that I was going to get the opportunity to sing with Emmylou Harris, I was floored, because I admire her so much and just really love everything she’s done,” says Price. “I’ve been following her career for a really long time, and it’s just thrilling to be asked.”

Adds Wall, “You talk about songwriters that have influenced the way I put music together and the way I string words along — Steve Earle is one of the biggest ones, for me anyways; he’s one of my biggest influences. So just to be mentioned in the same sentence, for me, means a lot. I’m a little shook up and pretty excited to be on the same stage with him and Emmylou and Buddy Miller. I feel pretty lucky to be here and standing where I’m standing.”

The Skyville Live episode featuring Harris, Earle, Miller and company can be viewed on the series’ website. More information on Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees, which will also include Patty Griffin and the Milk Carton Kids, can be found at JRUSA.org.

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