The young singer studies music through Musical Empowerment, a student organization dedicated to providing musical instruments and free private lessons to Chapel Hill-Carrboro elementary schoolers.
The benefit concert, featuring Joe Kwon, Scott Avett, Seth Avett, Paul Defiglia and Tania Elizabeth of the Avett Brothers alongside the Clef Hangers, Mipso and the Achordants, raised $12,000 for music books and instruments to be loaned out to Musical Empowerment students.
Freshman Wilson Sink has taught guitar and served on the Musical Empowerment Leadership Committee since September.
“I joined Musical Empowerment on a whim,” he said. “It seemed like the perfect combination of music and service, but I stayed because of the impact.”
“Nothing compares to hearing your kid learn to play a song, not even the Avett Brothers.”
The N.C.-based group took the stage following an introduction from two Musical Empowerment students and their teacher. They first became involved with the organization last year.
“(Musical Empowerment’s) adviser is Emil Kang, he’s the executive director of Carolina Performing Arts and he is good buddies with Joe Kwan,” said Co-President Kaitlyn Hamlett.
Kwon is a UNC alum and a member of University United Methodist Church, said Hamlett, who took the lead in coordinating with Kwan this year.
The church has been providing practice space for lessons as well as Monday night’s venue.
The concert is an annual event in its second year. By raising ticket prices to $20 for UNC students and $30 for general admission from $5 last year, Musical Empowerment nearly quadrupled its fundraising.
Jacob Sharp of Mipso, who graduated from UNC in 2013, taught mandolin to Musical Empowerment students while in college, though the program was called Carolina Music Outreach at the time.
“We’re here (tonight) because we really believe in UNC as a musical platform for the community,” Sharp said. “We think it’s important to give back.”
Musical Empowerment students were the stars of the night.
One student played “Cruella de Vil” on the piano, and several introduced groups with their teachers’ help.
Community support was certainly present as the crowd joined Musical Empowerment teachers and their students in singing “Carolina in My Mind” at the end of the night.