Musicians Raises Awareness for LGBTQ Immigrants in Detention Camps in Arizona

CONTACT: Carol Bradsen, 520-429-9792, Restoration Project | Raúl Al-qaraz Ochoa, 520-304-1461, Rainbow Defense Fund

‘Socially Conscious Songwriter of the Year’to play benefit concert in Tucson

Musicians raising awareness and support for LGBTQ immigrants held in

immigration detention centers in Arizona

TUCSON-Singer songwriters John Francis and Namoli Brennet will headline a benefit concert to raise support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer immigrants held in detention centers in Arizona.

The concert is sponsored by the Restoration Project at Casa Mariposa, the Rainbow Defense Fund, and St. Andrew’s Episcopal church. The benefit concert will be 4 pm, Sunday, January 29, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal church, located at 545 S. 5th Ave., Tucson, AZ. Suggested donation is $10 to $25. Proceeds will go to support LGBT detainees in Florence and Eloy, Arizona, through visits, letters, and support for their bond funds.

Due to the high rate of systemic abuse and discrimination towards LGBTQ detainees, support and solidarity are critical to ending the plight LGBTQ detainees face in immigration detention. Last month, The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of a 28-year-old transgender woman who was intimidated, harassed, and sexually assaulted by a Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) guard while she was in immigration custody at the CCA-owned and operated Eloy Detention Center. CCA is the largest operator of immigration detention centers in the country and detains almost half of the 33,000 people in federal custody on any given day.

The Restoration Project works in partnership with groups like the ACLU and the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project to identify LGBTQ detainees and others who will most benefit from outside community support through letters and visits while they await their immigration hearings. The Rainbow Defense Fund seeks to raise funds for the bond release of refugee and migrant prisoners at immigration detention centers in Florence and Eloy, Arizona.

Last year Francis, of Nashville, received two national songwriting awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. One for “Lyricist of the Year,” and the other for the “Socially Conscious Songwriter of the Year.” Both awards are for songs on his newly released “The Better Angels.”

Artist Bios:
John Francis is renown for his eloquent brand of songwriting, his intense and explosive yet often transcendent live shows, and his poignant social consciousness. Francis is touring  “The Better Angels,” a record he made in the legendary studio of Johnny Cash in Nashville, TN.
Drawing on the deep waters of Rock and Roll, Folk, Country, and Gospel, John Francis is rooted in the blood and earth of American music.  He’s been compared to Jeff Buckley and Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, but with a voice and lyrical perspective all his own, Francis is one of his generation’s most reputed songwriters.  While his style is distinctly “American” his themes of love, politics, and social justice are universal and resonate with the hearts and minds of international audiences as Francis tours in Europe.
Last year Francis received two national songwriting awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. One for Lyricist of the Year, and the other for the “Socially Conscious Songwriter of the Year”.  Both awards are for songs on his newly released “The Better Angels.”  Francis was one of the guest stars alongside Kris Kristofferson, George Jones, and Rosanne Cash at the inaugural “Johnny Cash Music Festival” where Francis performed for 8,000 people. The event was recorded and aired on national television in the US.
“The Better Angels” climbed to #18 on the Americana Music Charts and has been featured on radio stations all over the US, Ireland, England, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy.  Francis has shared the stage with Amos Lee, Ray Lamontagne, Steve Earle, Rufus Wainwright, and many more.  His band in the United States consists of Ken Coomer (Wilco’s drummer), Kenny Vaughan (Lucinda Williams, Marty Stuart guitarist), and Dave Roe (bass player for Johnny Cash).

“Madman genius songwriter; full of heart” -Sue Devine (Head of TV / Film ASCAP)
“Ripe with the kind of honest questioning that we used to count on guys like Bob Dylan and John Prine to serve up” -Philadelphia Inquirer
“Twice as talented as most performers” -Gene Shay, WXPN Radio host “Think Johnny Cash meets Jeff Buckley”

Tucson-based songwriter Namoli Brennet has been touring the country with her own brand of moody and inspiring folk since releasing her first CD in 2002. Her music has been featured on NPR, PBS and in films including the Emmy-award winning documentary “Out in the Silence”, which details the struggle of a gay teen growing up in rural Pennsylvania. A four-time Outmusic award nominee, Namoli has also won the Tucson Folk Festival Songwriting Award and was a finalist in the ISC songwriting competition. Her 2010 release ‘Black Crow’ garnered critical acclaim and was named one of KXCI FM’s top albums of 2010.

Touching on often poignant themes, her music and lyrics ultimately paint a vivid and redemptive portrait. She’s a breathtaking and moving performer, and her sweet, road-weary voice is as quick to deliver her wit and humor as it is a turn of phrase. She’s been described as a cross between Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin and Sheryl Crow, and Zocalo magazine called her music, “Gorgeous and introspective.”

She self-released her ninth CD, Rise, in fall 2011 on Flaming Dame records. You’ll often find this prodigious musician in the studio dividing her time between engineering, producing and playing most if not all of the instruments on her recordings. She’s also recorded and produced CDs for other artists, most notably Eric Himan’s 2011 release, “Supposed Unknown,” which is currently being featured on Sirius XM radio.

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