Making music matter
Two young men are making a difference in the world by selling compilation albums to help raise funds for Ugandan families that are suffering from the aftermath of a civil war.
Creative writing sophomore Stan Le and University of Texas mechanical engineering sophomore Patrick McManamen started the humanitarian project Make Music Matter to help raise funds for Invisible Children Incorporated, an organization designed to help Ugandan families have better access to educational and economic opportunities.
As a result of the civil war, most of the families in Uganda are forced to live in displacement camps to avoid bloodshed, Le said. The camps have often been compared to the modern day internment camps.
Invisible Children Incorporated is designed to help those families get on their feet. Because of the displacement, families do not have access to clean water, medical care or a stable income to start off their lives after the peace treaty is signed.
The two 20-year-old students created a compilation album of 21 underground rock, alternative, folk and metal artists around the world. They contacted artists via Myspace.com to donate some of their music for the cause.
The album ranges from instrumentals to conscious-driven lyrics. In addition, they designed the album art, featuring a big tree growing out of the earth, and production of the album.
"The tree symbolizes how there can be growth out of something destructive. It is our responsibility to be gardeners of this earth," Le, advertising production manager of The Daily Cougar, said. "We tried to get a compilation of different genres that would appeal to everyone.
"People say music serves its purpose as being inspirational, but we hope to take it to the next level by using it to create real and effective change."
The project started with McManamen viewing the documentary Invisible Children: Rough Cut after Le introduced it to him. The documentary focuses primarily on Ugandan children who are forcibly drafted into being "child soldiers."
"At the time, and even now, it is one of the worst, if not the worst, humanitarian crisis occurring in the world in the last 20 years that has gone virtually unnoticed by the international community," Le said.
McManamen was so inspired by the documentary that he used it for inspiration in an essay he was required to write for class. He used his essay notes to create a song, "There Can Be No Victory" (which is featured on the album), that concerned the violence.
Subsequently, he realized that he himself was not aware of international relations.
"After watching Invisible Children, I realized I was not paying attention to the world around me. I needed to do something bigger than myself," McManamen said.
Since then, the two ambitious students have been working vigorously to create the compilation to help raise funds for the families in Uganda. Their goal for the project is to sell at least 1,000 CDs, each with a cost of $12. In addition, they’ve also been accepting donations.
"I have full and complete faith in our natures as good willing Americans that you can simply explain a cause and the urgency to act and, automatically, people will reach for their wallets without a second thought and make it happen," Le said.
The album, Make It Matter, features 21 songs by 21 artists, incuding McManamen’s song and another one written by Le called "Brother Worm."
For those interested in purchasing an album, you can log on to Facebook.com and join the group "Make it Matter: a Benefit Project for Invisible Children" or pay via Paypal on www.myspace.com/music4ic. To donate directly to Invisible Children, visit www.invisiblechildren.com.