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Band joins with Ugandan choir

Adam Llorens | Monday, January 21, 2013

When 2012 graduates Brian Powers and Nick Gunty traveled to Kkindu, Uganda, last summer, the pair gained much more than expected from their experience.

Powers and Gunty, who comprise the band Frances Luke Accord, spent 18 days recording an album with the community’s Barefoot Truth Children’s Choir to raise money for members of the group.

“During our stay, we were touched by the many people we met living in rural poverty, who at the same time abound in human potential and an unparalleled spiritual wealth,” Powers said. “Through our interaction with the children and with village leaders, it became apparent that many of these children face hardships that none of us would ever encounter in our lives.”

Powers said one of the hardships for the 28 children in the choir is the lack of access to free, public education.

“They are not prevented from attending school, but they cannot sit for the necessary exams unless they pay their school fees,” Powers said. “The costs associated with these school fees, including a school lunch and uniform, totals only 70 dollars a year.  But with an average annual income in Uganda of only 511 dollars per capita, many cannot afford even this modest amount.”

To raise funds for the children to advance grade levels, the choir and Frances Luke Accord collaborated to record an album entitled “Kandote,” a Lugandan word meaning “I dream.”

“All money from the sale of this CD is going directly towards paying these school fees,” Powers said.

Kevin Dugan, an operations assistant for Notre Dame men’s lacrosse and the former manager of Youth and Community Programs for Notre Dame Athletics, developed the idea for the project. Dugan is also the founder and director of Fields of Growth International, an organization that uses athletics as a community and human development tool in rural villages in Uganda.

“The project was also funded in large part through grants from Notre Dame’s Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts and the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement as well as some private donations,” Powers said. “Thanks to these generous grants, we had the unique opportunity to spend 18 days in the wonderful country of Uganda doing what we love: listening to, writing, performing and recording music -and bridging a wide cultural divide along the way.”

Powers said the band sent the choir a CD before the trip so the children could learn the songs. Approximately 40 takes of each song were recorded before Frances Luke Accord selected the best one for the album.

Kandote can be purchased at any online music store or at the band’s website, FrancesLukeAccord.com/music

For fans to gain further access into the production of the album, the band uploaded a YouTube video entitled “Kandote” that details the group’s trip to Kkindu and its interaction with the Barefoot Truth Children’s Choir.