With this post I want to make you all aware of a great project called Stories of AIDS. This project is led by my good friend and fellow musician Andrew Magill from Asheville, North Carolina who was the winner of the fulbright-mtvU fellowship to travel to Malawi and record the stories of people there affected by the virus. Stories of AIDS is a concept album where each song has been inspired by a narrative Andrew collected while in Malawi. In his own words “Of 26 recorded narratives, ten were selected to be crafted into song, often weaving direct quotations from the narrators themselves with lyrics in Chichewa and English. The narratives reflect a range of socioeconomic backgrounds and personal relationships of people living with HIV/AIDS. Each song is designed to musically capture the story and personality of the individual profiled. Through these ten individuals the listener will learn about a diversity of issues which reveal the kaleidoscope of social contexts and dynamics of Malawi’s AIDS epidemic.
Andrew worked with social activist and popular Malawian recording artist Peter Mawanga to produce the project. The album features musicians from both Malawi and the US and draws on both Andrew and Peter’s musical influences- jazz, traditional Irish music, Congolese soukou music, traditional Chewa rhythms and more. By bringing together these musicians and styles of music, Andrew wants to emphasize the idea that “this music and these stories truly transcend culture. It is our hope that this music will open up a similarly cross-cultural conversation about AIDS between the people, personalities, and stories from other cultures singularly connected by this virus. The message of this music is hope not defeat. Reinvigoration not resignation. Life not death.”
I had the pleasure of performing for a fundraising concert for this project when I was teaching at the Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, NC. In October, Andrew will be bringing over musicians from Malawi to the Asheville area for the CD release. Please visit storiesofaids.com to learn more about this fantastic project.