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The Story Behind The Music

MMalawiStudioOn October 12, the Carolina community experienced the story behind the celebrated concept album  Mau a Malawi: Stories of AIDS. Mau a Malawi was created to explore the realities of living—and dying—from AIDS in the African country of Malawi, which suffers from one of the highest AIDS rates in the world.

The album originated with North Carolina native and UNC alumnus Andrew Finn Magill ’10, who received a Fulbright-mtvU fellowship in 2010 to work on the project, and acclaimed Malawian singer-songwriter Peter Mawanga. Magill and Mawanga conducted interviews with a vast range of Malawians during a six-month tour of the country. Each song is a musical reflection of a real person and his or her unique story that arose in these conversations.

Magill, co-producer of Stories of AIDS, hopes the album will generate discussion and provide visibility for this epidemic.  “This album has the unique power to provide a voice to what has long been a voiceless epidemic, drawing upon the transformative power of music to tell stories of real life courage and hope,” said Magill.

story of aidsThe event featured live music from Stories of AIDS, as well as a film on the album’s creation, If My Eyes Could Sing. The full-length feature documentary, created by North Carolina native and UNC alumnus Jon Haas ’09, brings to life the sounds and narratives which inspired the album. At the conclusion of the program, guests had the chance to discuss both the project and the critical issues facing Malawians devastated by AIDS with the artists.

Stories of AIDS was produced and recorded in Malawi. The Malawian musicians appearing in the album represent the premier musical talent from their country: Mawanga (guitar, vocals), Mavuto Miliyomi (marimba), Mallen Chakwera (vocals), Dryson Mwimba (drums) and Alfred Sitolo (bass guitar). The performance also featured many of the American musicians who are on the album: Magill, Jorge Izqueirdo, Dan Kelo, Lizzy Ross and Kaitlin Houlditch-Fair.

story of aids 2All proceeds from album sales went to support Talents of the Malawian Child, a nonprofit organization founded by Mawanga that strives to provide tangible economic opportunities to AIDS orphans by giving them the skills to prepare for a sustainable career working in the arts.

The album’s official release followed at a concert on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus on October 14 at Memorial Hall.

This event was sponsored by the Curriculum in Global Studies and the Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases

To learn more about the album or the documentary, visit and