Costa Rican singer Mia Paz raises her voice for refugees

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Mia Paz is just starting out her singing career. In her debut single “On the Run” she showed off her beautiful voice and pop sensibility. With the release of “Shelter”, she shows her compassion and commitment to causes bigger than her own success.

All profits collected from its sale will be donated to the International Rescue Committee, an organization dedicated to helping refugees who have lost their homes or livelihoods due to violent conflict or natural disaster. Paz says the idea for the song came to her while watching the heartbreaking images of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian boy who drowned in the Mediterranean sea while trying to migrate to Europe with his family.

The mood of the song and its accompanying music video is one of well-intentioned earnestness. The video begins with a street cat running through a deserted street, then jumps to migrants being rescued at sea, hungry, cold, and afraid. Where did they come from? Images of explosions and firefights tell the story: the tragedy of war. “When you come knocking at my door”, sings Paz, “I’ll shelter you from harm./When you’re scared and weak, my friend/I’ll take you in my arms.”

In a clever touch, the lyrics (the song is in English) are shown at the bottom of the screen as if they were captions from a CNN news report. The images turn progressively more hopeful, showing refugee shelters full of volunteers helping out, and marches around the world demanding the protection of migrants’ rights.

The approach is neither subtle nor particularly original, but that isn’t the point. The point is to tug at your heartstrings. You know what is happening. You know that people are desperate and need our help. “Shelter” means to remind you, maybe coax out a tear, and then a couple of bucks.

It’s good to see a young, not-very-well-established performer rejecting the temptation to be cynical and calculating, and instead leading with her heart.

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