SINGER Randa Khamis counts it as a miracle to be alive, let alone living in Australia and performing funk and soul music with her six-piece band Randa and the Soul Kingdom.
Both of her parents were Palestinian refugees who fled to Jordan with their families because of civil war and started their lives from scratch.
“They became citizens of Jordan, met and had my three sisters and me,” Khamis, of Tuart Hill, said.
“Civil war broke out in Jordan around the time I was born and a couple of months later the hospital I was born in was blown up.
“Everyone in our block of flats had to live in our basement apartment because it was safer with the bombings going on.
“Mum ran out of breast milk because of the stress and couldn’t keep feeding me, but she couldn’t just leave to buy milk.
“We even had one guerrilla soldier enter the flat and want to start firing and bombing from our roof. Mum and Dad and everyone there befriended him, calmed him down and gave him alcohol and any food we had, which was hardly anything, so they could convince him to go.”
After borrowing money for plane tickets, Khamis’s family came to Australia and started from scratch, again, when she was two years old.
Both of her parents died young and she considers her inspiration to come from the suffering she saw them go through.
“Music to me was pure joy and bliss and great escapism from the realities we faced; we were pretty poor,” she said.
“I used to ask Mum and Dad for singing and dance lessons, which were just out of the question.
“I think that’s the other reason I wanted to pursue it so much when I became an adult and could pay for my own singing lessons. Sometimes the void of not having something makes you understand its value.”
Randa and the Soul Kingdom will launch new 7” vinyl single Put Your Hands Up at The Sewing Room on October 4, a song about expressing yourself without judgement of race, gender or class.
It will be a track on their third album scheduled for release in March 2020, with the working title Standing Strong.
Khamis, whose career highlights include opening for Lionel Richie at Sandalford Winery and playing live on BBC radio, said the single launch would include The Beehives Go-Go dancers, The Sunshine Brothers and Bambuseae Rhythm Section.
“We just want to put on a show and make people feel good,” she said.
“Life is hard enough as it is; at least we can have music, dance and enjoy a good time.”
What: Put Your Hands Up single launch
Where: The Sewing Room
When: October 4