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Freedom Captivates
Luc of the Lovingtons in Morocco

Luc Reynaud visits Jemaa El Fnaa Square in Marrakech.
Toca Rivera, Luc Lovington and Jason Mraz on a Morrocan rooftop.
Luc Reynaud hanging with Jason Mraz's surf guides near Agadir on the southern coast of Morroco.

Troubadour Luc Reynaud recently racked up some serious frequent flyer miles.

The Methow Valley native and co-founder of Luc and Lovingtons traveled to Morocco last month for an exclusive engagement.

A royal admirer from Denmark celebrating her 40th birthday paid for Luc’s first class plane ticket to the North African country on the Mediterranean. Baroness Rebecca Wedell-Wedellsborg had rented a palace outside of Marrakesh, Morocco, as the opulent venue for her private birthday bash. With a large crowd of her closest friends and family to entertain, she invited Luc all the way from his current home in Seattle to perform one specific ballad: The Freedom Song.

How the baroness’ ears came to appreciate a tune penned by the 31-year old musician who lives thousands of physical miles and a few social milieus away is a classic tale of the power of music to resonate and raise the spirit of the human soul, becoming a self-propelled wave of connective energy.

The story of the Freedom song begins with a less luxurious engagement in the fall of 2005.

“About 2 weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf, I went down through Red Cross to work in a shelter. I got assigned to be a facilities manager. I was just a person that was on the ground with all these people just making sure their needs were met,” says Luc modestly about his volunteer stint.  “I had brought my guitar, and just kind of in the down time, I started making up this song with a group of kids, because I found just how powerful music was in that moment and how much energy it gave people. So we just made this cute little soulful, joyful song.”

After Luc returned to Washington, he daydreamed about recording the Freedom Song with his young collaborators--at the time aged six to twelve--from the shelter.

Through hearty encouragement and financial backing from his Grandpa Dave Reynaud of Twisp, Luc returned to the Gulf, rounded up the Freedom gang and committed the song to tape. The story can be read in more detail on Luc’s MySpace page.

Luc eventually donated the Freedom Song to a compilation CD produced by Harmonic Humanity, created for homeless to sell on the streets and make some money. When well-known and commercially successful artist Jason Mraz serendipitously heard Luc’s contribution to the CD, he was smitten. Mraz sought Luc out via his MySpace page and asked permission to do his own rendition of the song.

Although Luc had hoped that the public, on-line forum of his MySpace page would act as a vehicle to spread the Freedom Song and its story around the world, potentially bringing in money for the Hurricane Katrina victims and exposure for the young artists involved, he never quite expected such an enthusiastic and well-connected messenger.

“Jason took that really to heart. He’s taken it all over the world,” says Luc about the enormous fan base the Freedom Song has garnered with the star power of Mraz.

Not only did Mraz begin to routinely cover the Freedom Song, he invited Luc and the Lovingtons, a 5-member band which Luc and Chilean Felipe Cañete founded in 2007, to tour with him last October. The group now includes Methow-rooted members Jacob Shaw, Loren Boley and Soleil Kelley.

Then, in February of this year, Luc received an initial Facebook message from Baroness Rebecca. After hearing his song at a Jason Mraz concert and learning that Luc was the author, the socialite and philanthropist wanted to let him know that the Freedom song had found its way to Europe and was on the lips of legions of people.

‘Four months later,” chronicles Luc, “I got another message from her.” This time the baroness offered him an all-expense paid trip to Morocco for what turned out to be 10 minutes of his time on stage to sing the Freedom Song.

“I said a big ‘Yes!’ I didn’t have to think twice,” says Luc about accepting the unusual invitation from the “very happy, cool and energetic” Danish dame whose alliterated last name Luc’s tongue still stumbles over.

“Getting to have the Moroccan culture experience was really magical to me, because that’s one of my favorite things in the world - traveling. Traveling and music combined is like two of the best natural highs,” says Luc of his 10-day odyssey across the Atlantic.

“I felt like I was in Aladdin a lot [during] the whole trip,” jokes Luc about the exotic setting.

At the birthday bash Luc performed on a gorgeous stage surrounded by palm trees, and--as he describes-- “beautifully lit” which is probably an observation only a light engineer or a performer used to having to do his own lighting would make.

“I put so much juice into those ten minutes,” depicts Luc his short but intense moment under the spotlight.

Also playing that night was Danish pop star Erann Drori who Luc ended up befriending.  And what better way for two passionate musicians to seal their friendship? They wrote a song together, of course.

Post performance Luc assimilated into the party crowd. In the same breath that he describes mingling with Baroness Rebecca’s guests, who the Danish tabloid press dubs the “Gold Club” and jumping in the palace pool fully clothed under the stars, Luc relates in an equally ecstatic voice about “having these great conversations with some of the Moroccan workers running the palace.”  Luc soaked up every minute, every encounter like an endlessly inflatable balloon sucking in air.

Since they first sat in a circle in the shelter in Baton Rogue and breathed life into the Freedom Song, Luc continues to share with his young co-contributors the amazing trajectory that the song has been on.

“They were part of writing the song even though I’ve become the conduit,” remarks Luc.

He is working on establishing a website to connect the original participants and keep them posted on everything that transpires as a result of their fruitful jam session in 2005. Eventually, Luc would like to make a music video, not only starring the kids, but also including everyone that has helped the Freedom Song spiral its way around the world.  Luc says the Freedom Song has even become a “sort of anthem” for freed child slaves in Ghana after Jason Mraz traveled to the country to work with the organization Free the Slaves. Readers can see an interview with Mraz and a video of him performing the Freedom Song with youth who were previously victims of human trafficking.

Luc and the Lovingtons. Left to Right: Luc Reynaud, Jacob Shaw, Soleil Kelley, Felipe Cañete, Loren Boley

There’s a good chance that locals will get to hear the Freedom Song performed live in the Methow.  On Friday, October 21st, Luc and the Lovingtons will play at the Twisp River Pub, debuting their new CD, Send My Love, that will officially be released on 11/11/11.  Luc says that their fan base in the Methow Valley has been instrumental in supporting the endeavor, initially contributing the money to help the band do the recording. “We feel so lucky for the Methow love,” says Luc. He emphasizes how financial donations to make this CD have allowed them the creative flexibility that often disappears when you work under a profit-driven label.

Luc describes the band’s music as soul, world reggae. The diversely talented group of musicians delivers a high energy, uplifting and most definitely danceable sound, infused heavily with optimism, love and brotherhood. Music and grooving begins at 9 p.m. There is a $10 cover charge. People who miss the Friday show can still catch them the following night. On Saturday, October 22nd, Luc and the Lovingtons will play at ‘The Taste of Two Valleys’, a benefit auction supporting the Loup Loup Ski Bowl, happening at the the Agriplex at the Okanogan County Fairground. Doors to the event open at 5 p.m. and music begins at 9 p.m.

posted 10/17/2011