OSCAR VIGIL / TORONTO /
The bar was completely packed and the air was filled with good energy. On the stage was Robert Graham with his band “The Fairest and Best”. They sang of love, diverse types of love, and even the love for social justice.
Robert Graham, a composer, singer and musician, sang about one of his ex-girlfriends, an unrequited love. He sang about a male friend who fell in love with a woman who turned out to be a lesbian, and about a guy who fell in love with his best friend.
The odes to love were expressed in rhythms of rock, pop, country, blues, Latin and more. The audience, composed of his friends, friends of friends, or just music lovers, completely enjoyed the night.
But amidst his melodies of universal love were opportunities to speak about social justice and fair treatment of refugees in Canada.
Robert Graham’s music about social justice revealed that he is not simply an artist but a social justice activist, and an artist who thinks, sings, and acts with all his heart.
I met him a few weeks ago, when he invited me to talk at a fundraising event. He and his wife organized it in support of Jose Figueroa, a Salvadoran father who is in sanctuary in British Columbia, at the other end of the country. Figueroa, like me and hundreds of refugee claimants, is fighting an unfair deportation order because of political inadmissibility.
Jose was involved in revolutionary movements during his early years at the university in El Salvador. He never took arms or participated in violent activities, and his sole sin was to fight for social justice in a country where that fight was a crime.
Robert Graham didn’t know him personally but he jumped to read about him online and his heart told him he had to do something to help this guy.
Since then, he has been doing a lot: fundraising events, songs, speeches, calls, letters, pressure to the government, but, above all, he has been giving hope to somebody that for now can only see the light of the sun from inside of four walls.
Why? Because Robert’s heart is still pounding hard when he knows about injustice, as it pounded hard 30 years ago when he was a student in his native Australia and was involved with the solidarity movement for El Salvador.
Robert Graham loves El Salvador, but most important, he hates injustice. And he uses his own weapons to fight injustices in Canada: his arts, his gift to delight people with his voice and his rhythms. With these weapons, he raises awareness about fairness, as he did last weekend.
On Friday night, at The Central, a bar located in the area of Bloor and Bathurst, he did his best. He spoke, joked and sang, and his words and music were all about love, including his love of justice for people seeking refugee status in Canada.
Undoubtedly Robert Graham is a good man, a good citizen, and fortunately for the justice in this country, he is also an excellent musician. The world, particularly Canada in this politically bizarre time, needs more people like him.
Thanks Robert, you are The Fairest and Best.
More information about Robert Graham, the musician, at www.robertgraham.org