Jazz pianist McCoy Tyner is in Minneapolis for two nights at downtown’s Dakota Jazz Club. At seventy-seven, Tyner is one of the most influential jazz pianists of his time, most widely known for his work with the classic early sixties John Coltrane Quartet, of which he is the last surviving member.
Tyner’s imitable style on those recordings has been emulated by pianists for decades, but he remains one of those performers who is instantly recognizable to fans. No one else sounds quite like McCoy Tyner. His percussive use of the low end with his left hand, and his rapid, searching solos with his right translated Coltrane’s spiritually-charged saxophone to the keyboard. His heavy use of chords produce a deceptively streamlined structure to his solos, under lies enormous depth.
While Tyner is most associated with the sound of the Coltrane Quartet, he can also “swing lightly,” as Duke Ellington would often say in regard to a specific approach to rhythm and melody. In fact, on his last album for Coltrane’s label, Impulse Records, Tyner borrows the Quartet’s rhythm section for a program of Ellington songs which swings lightly with elegance and sophistication.
McCoy Tyner Plays Ellington explores widely-heard standards from the Ellington catalog as well as a few deep cuts. His “Solitude” is especially effervescent, more akin to Ellington’s 40s arrangement with vocalist Ivie Anderson than the introspective, almost lonely way it was performed solo and with the orchestra in later years. Tyner turns it into a cheerful tune.
In a side-and-a-half long track on Enlightenment nearly ten years later Tyner balanced this light swing with the almost overpowering polyphonics of the Coltrane Quartet. “Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit” is opened by drum and bass solos (Alphonse Mouzon and Juni Booth) before Tyner and saxophonist Azar Lawrence introduce a relentlessly driving melody.
This twenty-four minute epic performance from the 1973 Montreux Jazz Festival is one of the standards by which the seventies’ so-called “spiritual jazz” should be judged.
Performing with Tyner tonight and tomorrow here in Minneapolis is Gary Bartz, whose own albums of that era (several for Milestone Records, the same label which released Enlightenment) epitomize the potential of that golden era of exploration in jazz history. Yesterday’s Star Tribune lamented that Tyner had slowed down since the sixties, which is fair enough if also to be expected, but failed to mention Bartz (simply describing Tyner’s band as “not too shabby”). He has made appearances on Tyner’s albums since the sixties, as well as establishing his own enthralling amalgam of funk and free jazz with Ntu Troop on albums which are favorites in our collection.
Tyner’s bassist is Gerald Cannon, originally from Wisconsin and at one time the bassist for Elvin Jones’ band (performing at the old Dakota during the 90s). Drummer Francisco Mela is the youngest member of the quartet, but as a Cuban has a more diverse musical background. He also performs with Joe Lovano’s band and has recorded four acclaimed albums as a leader himself.
Maybe this is what it will sound like when the rise and fall of a romance is reported in the business section. Private Interests is the new project for Johnny Eggerman and Cam Soojian, reflecting a blending of their previous projects to produce a leaner, punker version of the former’s power pop trio, Mystery Date. Owing to a little insider trading the duo is backed by Southside Desire’s rhythm section on their debut, a six song cassette driven by the sort of irresistible hooks one expects from Mystery Date and the fervent energy of Soojian’s Ruggs, or of new label-mates (on Forged Artifacts) What Tyrants.
That trio, along with Distant Husbands and Star Child, will be opening for Private Interests on Friday at the Eagles Club. Expect more than six songs from the headliners, who have been playing since early this year and will also be appearing at a nine-act Replacements tribute at the Turf Club next month. In the meantime, you can check out another song, the ‘official’ single from the tape, on their Bandcamp page here.
What an interesting weekend to watch the news it turned out to be! Seems like there’s a certain politician whose mother didn’t raise him very well — or maybe he just never heard this 1965 single by Roy Head and the Traits.
A number of artists are known for their occasional ‘comeback’ revivals: notables include Elvis Presley, whose return from service overseas in Germany was celebrated with the April 1960 LP Elvis is Back! and tenor legend Sonny Rollins, whose first of several sabbaticals ended with the release of The Bridge. The album was so named because Rollins would practice for hours at a time on the Williamsburg Bridge, which spans the East River near where Rollins was living at the time.
Another enormously influential artist who walked away from performing more than once in his career is Little Richard. In the fall of 1957, after releasing a solid dozen hits on the Specialty label — “Good Golly, Miss Molly,” “”Lucille” (our favorite), “Slippin’ and Slidin’,” “Rip it Up,” etc — Little Richard surprised everyone when he announced he was going to leave rock and roll behind to study the ministry.
He described the moment of his conversion as having come during a flight across Australia, when he saw a fireball shoot through the sky and, in a separate account, believed angels were holding the plane aloft. It is believed the celestial event he witnessed was in fact the October 4th launching of Sputnik, Honestly, we’ve never entirely understood how something launched in what is now Kazakhstan could have been seen by an single airline passenger somewhere between Sydney and Melbourne without any other similar account — but this is hardly the only thing about Little Richard which is almost too amazing to be believed.
Little Richard enrolled at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, but also continued to record, shifting his repertoire to gospel music. One performance earned praise from no less an authority than Mahalia Jackson, and his Quincy Jones-produced album, The King of the Gospel Singers, is a classic within the genre.
Touring as a gospel performer, his rock and roll songs slowly slipped and slid back into his sets, and audiences roared in approval. Soon he was recording new material and in 1965 released a return to rock album, Little Richard is Back. This is the period when Jimi Hendrix (calling himself Maurice James) played in Richard’s band. Hendrix was fired by Richard’s brother in July 1965, in part because his flamboyant antics were upstaging his employer.
Little Richard went through a succession of labels and producers, all of whom he felt did not give him due respect as one of the architects of rock and roll. He felt each were pressuring him to fit his music into Motown’s mold. Adding to his frustration, he was ostracized in the south by conservative religious leaders, who resented his return to secular music, and in much of the country for his insistence that his performances be integrated. So once again he hung up his rock and roll shoes (to borrow a lyric from Chuck Willis).
Little Richard’s second comeback began in 1970 when he signed a contract with Warner Brothers to release his next album on its Reprise imprint. He was granted complete control over the material he would record and over the production of the album, The Rill Thing. The result is the Georgia native’s swampiest album to date, a return to form which featured several new originals written with his long-time manager and collaborator “Bumps” Blackwell (a co-author of many of those 50s Specialty hits).
Our own copy is a radio relic with what appears to be a deliberate scratch through the opening track, “Freedom Blues,” which was also its first single. Even a lousy copy of this album is worth it for the title track, a ten minute instrumental, and some of the other new songs.
Although 1970 was also the year Richard Penniman was finally ordained a minister, it is also around the time his lifestyle began to catch up with him, particular his drug use. His tour to support The Rill Thing was successful, but the performances were inconsistent. He hit it hard the next seven years, and although there were some highlights — especially his performance in Let the Good Times Roll (which makes up an absolutely stunning side of the soundtrack LP) — he couldn’t keep up the pace and left rock and roll for his longest break which began in 1977.
Manic as they were, we love those Little Richard records from the 70s. Recently, our friend DJ Truckstashe loaned us a paperback of Rolling Stone interviews published in 1971 because Little Richard was a “must read.” Here are a few passages from David Dalton’s interview shortly after the release of The Rill Thing:
How did you come to write ‘Tutti Frutti’?
Oh my God, my God, let me tell you the good news! I was working at the Greyhound bus station in Macon, Georgia, my Lord, back in 1955.
How old were you then?
O my Lord, that’s the only secret I’ve got. I’m only 24, folks. I was washing dishes at the Greyhound bus station at the time. I couldn’t talk back to my boss man. He would bring all these pots back for me to wash, and one day I said, ‘I’ve got to do something to stop this man bringing back all these pots to me to wash,’ and I said, ‘Awap bop a hip hop a wop bam boom, take ’em out!’ And that’s what I meant at the time. And so I wrote ‘Good Golly Miss Molly” in the kitchen. I wrote “Long Tall Sally” in that kitchen.
How did you get them onto record?
I met a singer, Lloyd Price who had a big hit, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” So he came to my home town, I was selling drinks in a little bucket at his dance, and he saw me and I stopped by the stage and I said, ‘I could do that,’ but they wouldn’t let me, so I went back in the dressing room, they had a piano in the dressing room, so I played ‘Tutti Frutti,’ on the piano for Lloyd. Lloyd said, ‘Man, say I believe that could be a hit. I want you to send a tape to Specialty Records.’ So I sent a tape to Specialty and they waited one year before they wrote back to me. I just kept washing dishes.
Like I don’t like the word ‘hippie.’ I call it the ‘real people.’ Because they are saying ‘hippie.’ I was the first one, ’cause I’ve been wearing the long hair and the fancy clothes, I’ve been doing it all my life, so I was the first hippie, yeah, in Macon, Georgia. And everyone would call me silly and stupid, and my father would put me outdoors, he said, ‘The man has gone crazy.’ So I like to say the ‘real people,’ they are willing, they’ve got the guts to admit they’re doing their thing, what they want to do and expressing their rights and don’t care about what society thinks, because what is society? I’ve been called everything but a child of God. Because society is a bunch of old people with money, that stays cloaked up to themselves and stays away from the world’ they want everyone to do as they have done through the years.
Why are people suddenly getting back into the fifties sound?
The reason is music works in a cycle. Where else can it go? It’s just this tall building but it has a foundation; if you take the foundation out the top is gonna fall. This music is the true foundation of the music, what they’re doing today all stems from this. So the kids are going back to it, they heard their mothers talking and they want to get a chance to see what their mothers really enjoyed, and they’re gonna enjoy what their mothers didn’t get a chance to enjoy.
The same as if someone asks me, ‘Little Richard, have you ever seen God? How do you know there is a God?’ I say, ‘Did you ever have a pain?’ They say, ‘yes,’ and I say, ‘Did you ever see it?’ I don’t condemn anyone, there are a lot of drugs and things I don’t know anything about it, but I don’t condemn it. I want to know why, I think we should know why they’re doing it, they could be disheartened, it could be the only way they know out. Who am I to say — I’m not a criteria — that this man is evil because he smokes marijuana. I smoke Kool cigarettes and I believe that marijuana is not as harmful as the Kool cigarettes. I’m not down on the man because he smokes marijuana; to me he’s just as great as President Nixon or Lady Bird or Mrs. Eisenhower or Mr. Eisenhower.
Don’t you play the piano anymore?
The reason I don’t play that one was it was way out of tune, and when I played I put the band out of tune. In Vegas I played the piano on every number. I stand and play with my toes, you should see me with my toes. You’ve never seen toes like Little Richard’s. The livin’ toe, yes Lord.
Are you conscious of being very vocal when you perform, or is it intuition?
The beautiful thing is I just like to say it, and the way I say it they know I don’t mean no harm — shut up, I’d rather do it myself. I just love to talk to the young people. I don’t like to talk to all the old people. They’re old and I’m young and out of place.
Do you get much chance to talk to young people?
Yes, everywhere I go I talk to the young people. In fact, in my personal help, I don’t have nothing but young people. My whole staff is young. I don’t want no old people; I want young ideas so if I don’t think right, they can help me. All those old people thinking about engines, things that happened back in 1900. My Lord, we weren’t even making records then.
Why did you give up music in the fifties?
It was at the time they sent the satellite up, and I was in Sydney, Australia, on a tour with Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, and it was a fantastic, monstrous tour. And I had a dream, and I saw some terrible things in this dream. And then I was on the airplane, and I just prayed, I felt like I was holding the plane up. I just had that feeling that God was holding the plane up because I was on the plane; I just felt that so strongly. So I came out of show business and went back to school to study theology, but eventually I decided to come back in this business and teach goodness in this business, not that I’m a minister — but to teach love, because music is the universal language, and to teach love to all people, all me, all women, not separatism, but to teach that we are all one, we are God’s bouquet, and teach it through music, through joy, through happiness.
Music lovers around the world are mourning the passing of Neville Marriner, who with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields was the most extensively recorded conductor on record. Marriner founded the chamber group in 1958 and on its earliest recordings played violin as well as conducting the twelve-member group.
Marriner spent seven years as the musical director of our Minnesota Orchestra, which happens to include our first childhood visits to Orchestra Hall. While this period was remembered by a former Orchestra president as a “golden era” in this morning’s Star Tribune, it is hardly as widely recorded as Marriner’s Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, who have sold more than 30 million discs over the years.
In fact, there are sadly few commercial recordings of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1979-86. Those you can find on LPs or CD reissues are worth a little looking around, like this performance of Dvorak’s Symphony no. 8 in G Major. Pressed by Philips Records but produced by the Minnesota Orchestra Association, the album was intended in part to showcase 3M’s new digital recording system. This is just a couple years after the three Sound 80 recordings (two of which by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra) which were revolutionary in their use of the technology. We posted one of these, the Grammy-winning recording of Copland’s Appalachian Spring, here.
While working as the Minnesota Orchestra’s musical director, Marriner recorded the best-selling record of his career with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields in 1984. The soundtrack to Amadeus is in fact one of the best-selling classical recordings by anyone. In agreeing to take on the project, Marriner insisted that no changes be made to Mozart’s scores to accommodate fitting them into the film, and held to his principle on the matter. The album peaked at #56 on the Billboard chart, a remarkable accomplishment for a classical record in the 80s. Marriner must have introduced hundreds of thousands of people to Mozart’s music.
Other records in Marriner’s limited catalog with the Minnesota Orchestra include recordings of Benjamin Britten’s “Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra,” a collection of incidental music by Wagner, and an album of violin concertos by Haydn and Belgian composer Henri Vieuxtemps. All are fairly easily found here in Minnesota, and there should even be copies here in your friendly neighborhood record shop this week.
Monday’s post about prison records included several poems read by Pat Parker at the Women’s Jail in San Bruno, California. One of these makes reference to George Jackson, who also appeared in songs by Gil Scott-Heron, Bob Dylan, Archie Shepp, and others. His writings were enormous influential during the movement to advance prisoners’ rights.
Jackson was eighteen years old when he was accused of stealing seventy dollars from a gas station. Although the case was not strong, his court appointed attorney convinced him to plead guilty because he had a record of petty crimes. He was given an indefinite imprisonment sentence of one year to life, meaning that the State of California would determine the duration of his sentence based on his conduct while incarcerated. This is a real thing that exists in the country where we live.
He spent more than a decade in prison, first at San Quentin. Due to disciplinary infractions he was not eligible for release, and instead spent much of his time in solitary confinement. Jackson studied radical political theory, once writing, “I met Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Engels and Mao when I entered prison and they redeemed me.” His became less of a disciplinary problems and more of a theorist. He wrote to friends and supporters detailed descriptions of the conditions inside San Quentin, and later Soledad, and also eloquent descriptions of daily survival in the face of oppressive racism. His letters to friends and supporters were collected and published in 1970 as Soledad Brother, selling four hundred thousand copies.
Most of today’s black convicts have come to understand that they are the most abused victims of an unrighteous order. — George Jackson
Jackson and two other prisoners were accused of killing a white guard at Soledad on January 17, 1970. The details of the case are murky at best, and when it finally came to trial the state of California was unable to prove its case. An effort was made to bring the three suspects before secret hearings in Salinas County, but before the third such hearing one of the other inmates was able to get a note to his mother, who secured the help of a state senator and an attorney. This attorney argued the reason the three were accused was not due to the presence of any evidence, but because they had been identified by the correctional authorities as militants.
Their case became a cause célèbre, but before it could come to trial there was a hostage situation and shootout at a Marin County courthouse created by Jackson’s seventeen year old brother, Jonathan. Three prisoners and a Judge were killed in the escape attempt.
Just over a year later, Jackson himself was killed in an escape attempt at Soledad, under circumstances which have long been the subject of question and speculation. The late, eminent James Baldwin put it best when he wrote, “No black person will ever believe that George Jackson died the way they told us he died.”
The most famous event in the aftermath of Jackson’s death was the Attica Prison uprising, which began two weeks later. The subsequent hostage negotiations and violent conclusion, in which ten guards and thirty-eight prisoners were killed in a siege of the prison approved by Governor Nelson Rockefeller, put the brakes on the prisoners’ rights movement.
“So what is to be done after a revolution has failed? After our enemies have created a conservative mass society based on meaningless electoral politics, spectator sports, and a 3 percent annual rise in purchasing power strictly regulated to negate itself with a corresponding rise in the cost of living. …What can we do with a people who have gone through he authoritarian process and come out sick to the core!!!” — George Jackson
Still, prisoners and their advocates had established, most often through the courts, the defense of their basic human rights, as well as the opportunity to improve themselves through means which were unimaginable even a decade earlier. While many advancements remained — and still remains — to be done, the American correctional system moved away from the ‘hands off’ 19th century model which saw prisoners as little more than potential labor.
The largest setback for the prisoners’ rights movement in the years since was a 1996 law passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton. The only law of its kind in the western world, the Prison Litigation Reform Act severely limits the access prisoners have to the legal system, including those detained and awaiting trial who are presumed to be innocent. The result has a been a precipitous decline in civil rights cases brought by prisoners, and alarming changes to the conditions inside prisons. Through the PLRA, prisoners who have been sexually assaulted have had their cases thrown out because they did not adequately exhaust all available administrative means prior to filing a suit. Other prisoners whose religious liberties have been restricted have had their cases thrown out because they were not physically injured.
If George Jackson were alive and seated at his typewriter today, he would certainly continue to write about the institutional racism which led to inevitably destroyed lives such as his own, but he would also decry the Prison Litigation Reform Act.
The United States makes up about five percent of the world population, but more than a quarter of the world’s prisoners. There is no precedent for the extraordinary increase in incarceration in our country, and its consequences could be catastrophic. An absolutely alarming article published by The Atlantic Monthly last year detailed the devastation our mass incarceration has brought on African American families, where prison life is increasingly becoming ubiquitous. One in four black men born after 1970 will, by his thirties, have been imprisoned in this country.
The prison industrial complex is essentially hidden, as far as affluent Americans are concerned. You might be surprised to learn that last year President Obama became the first sitting President to visit a federal prison. Clearly we don’t want to see what’s going on, or even hear about it. In spite of the success of prison-set television programs like Orange is the New Black, the omnipresence of bars in the lives of America’s disenfranchised hardly appears in our pop music these days. This wasn’t always the case.
It seems likely that when we suggest the subject of prison records, you’ll expect us to post a song from Johnny Cash’s two live albums, At Folsom Prison and At San Quentin. They’re classic country albums and all, but we could never take Johnny’s prison persona as seriously as he seemed to himself — the closest Cash came to doing time in the sixties was waiting for his meth dealer.
After Merle Haggard passed away earlier this year, each obituary (including ours) mentioned that he was inspired to join a prison band after seeing Johnny Cash perform at San Quentin on January 1st, 1958. Haggard was no stranger to prison, having done a couple stretches before he was arrested in Bakersfield after attempting to rob a roadhouse. An escape attempt at the Bakersfield jail earned him a trip to San Quentin, but it wasn’t Cash’s performances which really set him on the path to redemption. It was an encounter with Caryl Chessman, known for his 1954 memoir Cell 2455, Death Row.
Chessman’s case captivated the push to abolish capital punishment in the United States, at a time when most other western nations were moving towards abandoning it. Ronnie Hawkins even recorded a song about Chessman in 1960, just a few months before he was executed at San Quentin.
Merle Haggard wrote a number of songs about his experiences, and was rightly remembered for how honestly he captured the trials and troubles of the disenfranchised. His story is inspiring, as are many stories which come from prisons. It’s no accident that two of the most significant works of American literature — Henry David Thoreau’s Resistance to Civil Government and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail — were both written behind bars. Our interest today, then, isn’t songs like Merle’s “Mama Tried,” which are about prison, but rather records which were actually recorded by prisoners.
The first of these is Any Woman’s Blues, which was recorded on New Years Eve 1975 at the Women’s Jail in San Bruno, California. It’s a pretty remarkable record, although not a perfect fit for our purpose today because in addition to former prisoners, the performances on Any Woman’s Blues include professional musicians as well. Several of the women who founded and recorded for Olivia Records appear, notably Cris Williamson, Linda Tui Tillery and Holly Near. The lesbian-oriented label was on of the most successful independents of the seventies.
The album was released by the Women’s Prison Concert Collective, which was supported by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. Their commitment to improving the lives of incarcerated women is evident in the album’s insert, which includes a list of things one can do to help and where you can find more information.
Incidentally, here in Minnesota one thing you can do is support the Women’s Prison Book Project. It may not seem like much to provide reading material, but it often provides an important resource for an even more marginalized population. There are more than 150,000 owmen in prison and jail in the United Sates, and eighty percent of them are serving time for non-violent crimes. Of the remaining, most were convicted for defending themselves or their children from abuse. More than half of the women in prison are women of color, and two thirds of them have one or more children under the age of eighteen. According to their website, “the WPBP works to support prisoners; and through that solidarity works to empower prisoners themselves and build connections through prison walls.”
We remember accepting donations to their program when we volunteered at the now-closed Arise Bookstore. Today you can contact them through Boneshaker Books, a really great place just up in Seward not far from our shop.
That first song from Any Woman’s Blues is written and sung by Gwen Avery. Her signature song, “Sugar Mama,” appeared on Olivia Records’ Lesbian Concentrate compilation and she toured with Tillery and Mary Watkins, but she did not make an album of her own until almost twenty-five years later.
This second selection from Any Woman’s Blues is poetry read by Pat Parker. One of the poems is particularly moving, as it is written about her older sister, who died at the hands of an abusive husband. “Womanslaughter” protests the one-year sentence her sister’s killer received, remarking with scorn that “men cannot kill their wives / they passion them to death.”
This next record is by Glen Shirley, who had no idea he was to become a famous country songwriter as he sat in the front row of Johnny Cash’s famous performance at Folsom Prison on January 13, 1968. Cash explained what happened without Shirley’s knowledge in a 1994 Life magazine interview:
The night before I was going to record at Folsom prison, I got to the motel and a preacher friend of mine brought me a tape of a song called ‘Greystone Chapel.’ He said a convict had written it about the chapel at Folsom. I listened to it one time and I said, ‘I’ve got to do this in the show tomorrow.’ So I stayed up and learned it, and the next day the preacher had him in the front row. I announced, ‘This song was written by Glen Sherley.’ It was a terrible, terrible thing to point him out among all those cons, but I didn’t think about that then. Everybody just had a fit, screaming and carrying on.
The memorable closing track on Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison put Shirley on the country music map, and later a hit recording of his song “Portrait of my Woman” by Eddy Arnold helped propel his career further, even though he was still incarcerated for a failed armed robbery. He recorded an album at Folsom Prison for Mega Records in 1971, and was released later that year.
Cash met him at the gate, and invited him to join his House of Cash organization as an opening performer and songwriter. Shirley hosted the performances in the documentary Flowers Out of Place, which featured Cash, Roy Clark and Linda Ronstadt. His behavior, which included violent threats, concerned Cash’s crew, and he was eventually fired.
Shirley was working for a cattle company in May 1978 when he shot a man in a drug-fueled rage. Two days later he took his own life in his brother’s house in Gonzalez, California. Cash paid for the funeral expenses, but effectively ended his involvement in prison reform after Shirley’s death, and never performed for prisoners again.
Perhaps the most popular prison recording of all time was made by John Lomax and his son Alan on a portable aluminum disc machine on loan from the Library of Congress. At Angola State Prison the folklorists found Huddie Ledbetter, later known nationwide as Lead Belly, who made a number of recordings for them during his time for an attempted murder.
It is believed by some that a recording Lead Belly made in prison, delivered to the Governor by the Lomaxes, hastened his early release, but records show he was already eligible because of good behavior. The most famous of the songs he recorded for the Library of Congress was one he’d been singing for more than twenty years, “Goodnight Irene.” This song is, of course, where the record shop’s li’l Boston Terrier Irene gets her name.
This last record, Ain’t Got Time to Lose, features blues, folk and country songs written and performed by inmates and former inmates of the Oklahoma Correctional System in 1980. Leo Chandler, who served as production director as well as performing one of the songs on the album, describes the project in its liner notes:
For years Institution Programs Incorporated has developed and conducted arts based programs within the framework of the Oklahoma Prison System. Because of financial limitations, these programs have not reached all eligible inmates. The idea of a convict album was conceived to share the talent that has existed inside the prison.
It was not an easy task to arrange for security to transport men and women from different institutions across the state to a recording studio in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to finalize the project. Yet, with the extra effort and cooperation of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, it happened!
All income generated by this album, except for production costs, will go to the expansion of the prison arts programs. These programs offer projects in visual art, literature, drama, music, design and continuing humanities dialogues.
Creativity can be developed through discipline, and I feel that discovering one’s own potential brings self-esteem. This album is an entertainment package and consists of more than one style of music. It is comprised of the stories, joys, the sadness and frustration, triumph and humor of people in prison. It is a sincere attempt for these people to financially support their own redirective programs.
Several songs express the successes of such a program, such as Chandler’s “Looking for a Better Way to Live” and Harvey Smith’s “Oh Lord Help Me.” Others, like “Crow in a Hickory Tree” by Bill Baker, are just fun songs which otherwise might never have been heard outside of Oklahoma. There are several gospel songs on the album as well, notably the beautiful song at the beginning of this post which was written and performed by Kim Holloway.