*For once, today’s Q&A is not advice from music industry experts, it’s an interview about a wonderful idea of how jazz can help those less fortunate than us. It’s Christmas time so I thought this little fairy tale story won’t do any harm* – Maggie Samkova (guest interviewer)
The idea was born in Berlin. If you remember, Jazzfuel did a Q&A with Kurt Rosenwinkel earlier this year. You also might remember that among others Kurt spoke about his freshly launched independent (Berlin based) label Heartcore Records.
Heartcore Records employ creative minds and one of its representatives, Michaela Bokova, came with a concept how to, through the label, help an African centre for former street children.
She came with the Heartcore for Africa project.
Today, we’re talking about the project and her cooperation with Kurt, Dave Douglas, Aaron Parks and Zambian kids.
In a few words, what is Heartcore for Africa about?
The project is based on connecting big jazz names with the really unknown ones to create a unique song. The big names are Kurt Rosenwinkel, Dave Douglas and Aaron Parks, the unknown are kids from the Mthunzi Center in Lusaka, Zambia.
Sounds cool. What kind of song is it?
It’s a rap song called “Ni Chikondi” (About Love). The music was written by Kurt, lyrics by the kids. We successfully built up a choir of twenty members to sing chorus and recorded seven children rapping in English and their local language, Nyanja. The structure of the song gave the kids a lot of space to express themselves. It was perfect how they responded to the music and put so much of their hearts and souls into this experience.
How did the recording go – where it was actually recorded?
Well, it was all a wonderful experience! I flew to Zambia, spent there a whole month and did the rehearsals, recording and production of the song. It was all made in an improvised recording studio located within the Mthunzi Center.
It’s a little bit surprising to me that you actually managed to record the song in the capital of Zambia – southern Africa. (I don’t know many projects that were recorded in those parts of globe!)
As I was introducing myself to various organiations in Africa I very soon found out about this place – an improvised recording studio somewhere in Lusaka. I was excited! To be honest, I think I was also kind of telepathically pulled by the wish of Chakwe Daka, the founder of the studio, who really wanted to create something worldwide (he appears in the video which we’re releasing along with the song). When I got there it almost looked like he was waiting for me to do it.
How did you chose the “big jazz names”?
When I asked Kurt If I could leave Berlin for one month to do a music project in Africa, he promptly offered the patronage of the company for anything I came up with. Kurt is an amazing person and I love his work as a musician and composer – so I proposed him to make a song as an open space for the kids. The idea of having the other two in the project came after this (and was not even mine) – firstly it was Dave who also spontaneously offered to join us after I mentioned the project to him by chance. After that, I realised that I could involve other well-known musicians to make the song completed and more attractive.
So I reached out to Aaron who immediately agreed, no questions around. They recorded their instruments in their New York’s studios. The final magic was done in London by the great sound engineer, musician and friend Paul Stacey who mixed all the layers together.
How did the cooperation go?
I must admit that all these people have something in common, not only the huge talent but also a great attitude to life and beautiful souls. That, in my opinion, is the reason why everything went so smoothly.
What’s happening next with the song?
The song is available now on our Heartcore Records website and can be downloaded for €5. All the proceeds will be given to the centre. The money will help to financially support their musical education and equipment for their improvised recording studio. Thanks to the fact that everyone involved was doing it beneficially we can really send 100% of the amount to the centre.
Is Heartcore Records planning to do more projects like this one?
Definitely! I am already in touch with an organisation supporting education in India. My big dream is to create similar projects in different countries every year and after ten years we’ll hopefully release a whole album carrying stories of the children around the globe.
Fingers crossed Michaela! ❤️
You can support this project by downloading the track via Heartcore Records today!