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Tuesday October 4th

UNC's Musical Empowerment hosts ?rst bene?t concert

	<p>Paul Defiglia, Scott Avett and Joe Kwon, from left to right, of the Avett Brothers perform at “MElodies” to benefit Musical Empowerment.</p>
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Paul Defiglia, Scott Avett and Joe Kwon, from left to right, of the Avett Brothers perform at “MElodies” to benefit Musical Empowerment.

There is power in music, and Thursday night, “MElodies” aimed to prove that.

Musical Empowerment, a UNC student-led organization dedicated to providing free music lessons to children in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, hosted its first annual “MElodies” benefit concert at the University United Methodist Church on Franklin Street.

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To learn more about Musical Empowerment, see:

“We’re hoping the audience left with a sense of empowerment because of what we’re doing,” said Kaitlyn Hamlett, co-president of Musical Empowerment.

“We hope people will want to get involved in any way, and give what they can to support this cause,” she said.

Many of the performers at “MElodies” said they share Musical Empowerment’s hope. For instance, the Carolina Ukulele Ensemble has a similar initiative.

“The ukulele ensemble firmly believes in promoting access to music for everyone,” said Jeff Hymes, founder of the ensemble.

“We have corporate sponsors that donated ukuleles to the group, which we loan out to college students who can’t afford to buy their own ukuleles but still want to play music.”

Performers were invited to speak at the concert about how music touched them — or, in the case of the members of Morning Brigade, completely changed their lives.

“I’m pretty sure none of us want to imagine how we’d have turned out without music, so it’s wonderful to know what Musical Empowerment is making possible for these kids,” said pianist Gabriel Reynolds in an interview on Wednesday.

“This is a band of best friends, and by putting that on display we can hopefully show one example of what music can do.”

In addition to local musicians, several members of the Avett Brothers agreed to come perform for a cause with which they heavily identified.

“Music has taken me around the world and back again several times, and it’s only fair to give back all that I have received to those who might not otherwise be able to,” said cellist Joe Kwon.

Kwon also said he hopes the Avett Brothers’ popularity will bring more attention to Musical Empowerment.

“Our success, I hope, helps to bring more money to the event, but in no way would this event even exist without the vision of the Musical Empowerment team,” he said.

“I hope a few years from now to hear that the foundation has been picked up in different cities.”
Performers and organizers said through “MElodies,” they found a way to give something truly special to everyone.

“Music is like magic,” Reynolds said. “It’s intangible but powerful, it’s moving in a way that feels impossible to describe. So when you learn to play and you start to understand it, you feel like magic too.”

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