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Newport’s Atonement Lutheran Church will present an evening of reggae, African gospel and blues this Sunday, July 21, when it hosts award-winning Liberian musician Lasana Kanneh.

Kanneh suffered much in his native homeland. Born blind and ostracized by his community for his disability, he was eventually abandoned at the school for the blind in Monrovia.

He began his singing career with Echoes of the Blind, a group that originated in the Liberian captial, Monrovia. This group of blind men and women sang on the streets during Liberia’s civil unrest. Kanneh says he remembers singing with the group in the midst of rebel fighting, with bullets flying over their heads. He was even forced to sing for infamous warlords.

Kanneh went on to become part of Liberian Acappela, a group of 10 Liberian men who traveled out of Africa and toured 46 states in four years. The goal of the group was raising funds for orphans left back in Africa. One of the memorable times for this group was singing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville for a crowd of more than 20,000 people.

Kanneh now has his own band, IjenNeh, whose name translates as “Heaven,” which has been featured on NPR, VOA and many other local and national stations.

Sunday’s performance, which is free and open to all, will start at 3 pm at the church, 2315 N Coast Highway.

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