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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Ben Folds didn't realize how great his music was until he heard a bunch of college students singing it.

Ben Folds was so impressed by a cappella groups' performances of his songs, he made a record with them.

The singer-songwriter says he was beyond impressed when he stumbled across videos of university a cappella groups singing covers of his songs on YouTube.

"I was really moved," he says. "I thought it was better than what I had done when I first heard it. That's how it struck me because it was so fresh."

And so an idea was born: Folds would travel to university campuses around the country and record an entire album of a cappella covers.

The North Carolina native picked 15 ensembles from 250 submissions for "Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella!" (Epic), which came out Tuesday. And to give the music a "field recording" feel, he kept the process simple: Each performance was recorded using six wide-range microphones, and most of the groups got it down in one or two takes.

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