Focusrite sponsors team recording an album to promote HIV awareness in Malawi.

Focusrite sponsors team recording an album to promote HIV awareness in Malawi.

Following up on 2007’s successful project in Sierra Leone, a Focusrite-sponsored team is currently hard at work in Malawi recording an album of local songs to promote HIV awareness in Malawi and throughout Southern Africa.

The music is being written and performed by local artists from all around the country, and the team are covering a lot of ground to record them all – making compact and powerful equipment a necessity.

Focusrite supported the project by supplying a Saffire Pro 10 I/O. Project co-producer Joe Herrmann commented “we also used the Saffire pro in Sierra Leone, and we’re very glad to be able to use it again. It gives us a nice sound, and its great to use on the move. We have it in a rack, and can transport it to our different recording locations very easily, and set it up in seconds.” This year, Focusrite expanded their support, also supplying a Liquid Mix to complement the unit already owned by the project’s other producer, Mark Nunn – thus enabling the team to run parallel systems. “Normally I oversee programming sessions while Joe’s recording vocals,” said Mark: “it’s twice as efficient now, thanks to the support we’ve received, and because of these clean, simple setups and the incredible talent of the people we’re working with, we’re ahead of schedule on this trip already.”
Joe goes on to describe the full rig: “We use the Liquid Mix in a chain with a TC Powercore, plus G-Tech hard drives, with the Saffire pro connected directly to a Apple MacBook Pro 2.8 GHz running Logic Pro 8. In Sierra Leone we were worried about complicated chaining, but it was OK in the end and now we’re much more confident. We’re still very flexible… this week we built our vocal booth in an outhouse at the bottom of somebody’s garden in Lilongwe!”

It is hoped that this album will be played and distributed widely, having a positive effect on HIV knowledge in Malawi, where adult HIV prevalence is around 12%. Women are disproportionately affected here – around 60% of Malawian adults with HIV are female. In 2002, the country suffered its worst food crisis for over 50 years, with HIV recognised as one of the factors that contributed most significantly to the famine. A report suggested that 70% of hospital deaths at the time were AIDS-related. The HIV epidemic has also severely affected Malawian children: at the end of 2007, an estimated 91,000 children in Malawi were living with HIV, and over half a million had been orphaned by AIDS.
Mark Nunn, co-producer of the album, said: “The project has been very popular so far – the response from artists has been inspirational and everybody is working voluntarily – the atmosphere around this project is very positive. We have basic funding in place for three years, and we’ll be repeating this work here in 2010 and again in 2011, with the addition of video and animation to add a visual aspect to what we’re creating from next year. We’re also doing another, shorter project in the Democratic Republic of Congo in August/September 09. At the moment we are trying to secure further funding and sponsorship – whether financial or kind, like how Focusrite helped us by providing the Saffire PRO – to repeat it in other countries where there is similar work taking place on HIV education.”

To listen to the songs from the Sierra Leone project, visit:

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