Their interest in African musical forms predates the crisis in Darfur. [Eric Herman], a music major, has studied in Ghana and the Republic of Mali, and [Jesse Brenner] spent time in Bostwana. The pair worked with New York University student Joe M.F. Wilson last summer on a documentary for Afropop Worldwide, showcasing the growing African music scenes in New York and Montreal. That project prompted the idea of a benefit album.
Herman says other artists, including the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra and Kokolo, were happy to contribute their songs, for no fee. Compiling and engineering the album, and commissioning artwork from Wesleyan senior Adam Tuck, 21, cost Modiba about $10,000. Money was provided by TrueMajority, a nonprofit organization founded by Ben Cohen, better known for his eponymous role in Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Cohen knows a friend of the Modiba crew, and took a chance based on the friend's recommendation.