A music producer from Elvetham Heath has compiled an album to raise funds for an Hampshire charity helping an African community.
Stuart Lynch, of Upper Mount Street, released Songs For Soma in aid of Kaira Konko, set up by the 2nd Bentley Scouts to support a scout unit and primary school in the village of Soma in the Gambia.
The 43-year-old, who works as an air traffic controller but produces backing tracks for musicians as a hobby, used his music industry contacts to appeal to artists to donate songs.
He received 14 tracks, including previously unreleased solo songs recorded by Huey Morgan of US hip-hop band Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Carol Decker, formerly of British pop group T’Pau.
Mr Lynch said he hoped sales of the record, available through online music stores, would raise at least £1,000 towards the charity’s work providing education and recreation for young people in a remote area of the Gambia.
“I’m delighted with the final product,” he said. “The quality of the songs is fabulous and the album has a diverse feel with ballads, electro-pop, instrumentals, rap and hip-hop tracks.
“I’m still waiting for the first official sales figures but I’ve heard from friends who say they bought the album and they love it, which is very encouraging.”
Mr Lynch and his wife Kirsten were introduced to Kaira Konko through a friend who supports the charity. They went with their son Will, 13, to see the Soma scouts for the first time in February, taking with them a selection of children’s books and musical instruments such as recorders and tambourines.
“We had always wanted to help a charity in Africa and joining a Kaira Konko mission seemed like a great opportunity,” he said.
“We had seen pictures of the scout lodge and it looked amazing.
“Our trip lived up to expectations. The scouts are such a friendly bunch and they appreciated the time we spent reading, playing music or playing football with them. They all wanted to be involved in every activity.
“It was also good for our son to see what life is like for a big proportion of the world’s population.”
On his return from the Gambia, Mr Lynch wanted to raise funds and awareness for the charity. He organised a live music night at Zebon Copse Community Centre in Fleet in September.
The evening raised almost £2,000 for the Kaira Konko education fund, which is used to buy school uniforms, shoes, textbooks and stationery for pupils in Soma.
It was such a success that Mr Lynch was inspired to compile an album featuring the Fleet musicians who performed on the night, Darron Robinson and Mandy and Pete Dineley, who penned a new song for the record.
The other tracks on Songs for Soma are contributed mostly by British artists Mr Lynch has worked with, plus Morgan and a Japanese artist. One track is a recording of youngsters in Soma singing nursery rhymes.
“I needed a big name for the album so I sent messages to Huey Morgan and Carol Decker,” he said. “I didn’t expect to hear back from them but Huey got in touch through Twitter about 20 minutes later.
“I was delighted with the response to my appeal. It’s great that artists are happy to give their music for free to help a cause they are not even involved in. They all gave the charity their backing.”