By Clara Pereira
Record label: Heartcore Records
Project: Heartcore For Africa
Production: Michaela Bóková
Musicians: Kurt Rosenwinkel, Dave Douglas, Aaron Parks + children of Mthunzi Orphan Center
On December 12th, 2017, Berlin-based music label Heartcore Records released a new song “Ni Chikondi (About Love)”, in collaboration with the Mthunzi Orphan Center in Lusaka, Zambia.
All the proceeds from digital sales will fund the purchase of musical equipment for the Mthunzi center, an orphanage that currently houses over fifty children.
Co-written by Kurt Rosenwinkel and the children, the song also features the prominent jazz musicians Aaron Parks and Dave Douglas as guest performers.
Heartcore representative Michaela Bóková undertook the rehearsal, recording and production of the song; “The kids showed so much talent and creativity. We successfully built a twenty-piece choir and recorded seven children rapping in English and in their native-language, Nyanja. Spending a whole month among them was a very unique and joyful experience,” Bóková remembers.
from Heartcore Records Press Release
We talked to Michaela Bóková who told us a bit more about this wonderful project, Heartcore for Africa, and its first released song “Ni Chikondi (About Love)”.
How did this project come to life?
At first, it was my wish to be active and helpful during the summer. I was searching for a place to put my energy into, but I didn’t know what kind of project I was looking for. After I found the music program at the Mthunzi center, Kurt and I agreed to move forward. Then, step-by-step, it started to grow. I called the project Heartcore for Africa and asked Kurt to make the basic track for the song.
Why Zambia? And how did you end up working with the kids at Mthunzi Center in Lusaka?
I was very lucky. I reached the right person who introduced me to the Mthunzi Centre, an orphanage in Zambia with an improvised recording studio. It was kind of a miracle! They already had plans to create something very similar to Heartcore for Africa. The timing was just perfect.
What are the goals of Heartcore for Africa?
We reached the first goal during my visit to the center. The kids were very happy to learn about music production. We had a lot of fun with plenty of music workshops, creating and recording. The second goal is selling the song. All the proceeds go back to the children so they can equip their studio and advance in their music education. Another goal is to let people know the world doesn’t end with walls and borders. There are so many people in need we can help. Helping people through music is the highest principle represented by the project.
How did the collaboration between Kurt Rosenwinkel, Aaron Parks and Dave Douglas happen?
As I mentioned, this project grew step by step. The idea of inviting other artists came later when I happened to mention the project to Dave Douglas and he immediately offered his help. Then I started to think, why don’t I ask some more people? Aaron Parks was the first one who came to mind, and he agreed when I asked him.
The collaboration itself was an amazing experience that everyone enjoyed.
How was the kids first reaction to the music? And what does the music studio mean to these kids?
The kids were wild! (laughs). First, they thought the song was too slow, but they got used to the groove and caught the beat soon thereafter. I heard the catchy melody around me every day. The kids created their own lyrics, which made the song very personal to them, and put a big effort into the whole process. It was amazing to observe their progress!
There were many kids with musical ambitions, who came to the studio almost every day and were very proud to have something like this at the center. The children are very creative and this is one of the few places where they can fully express themselves.
How was the experience for you? Any plans to repeat it?
The experience was incredible! I wouldn’t trade the month I spent in Africa for anything! Kurt and I are already planning another “Heartcore” projects. At the moment we are in touch with an educational organization in India. My dream is to create similar projects in different countries and after ten years we’ll hopefully release an album that contains the stories of people around the globe.