Prison Music Project TOWN HALL
A live-streamed panel with a few of the creators.
A safe space to ask questions about the project.
Moderated by Leyla MacCalla
Panelists: Ani DiFranco, Nathen Jackson-Brown, Zoe Boekbinder
Guests calling from prison: Samual Brown, Bruce Dixon, and Spoon Jackson
We will prioritize questions from people who have been impacted by incarceration.
This project is ten years in the making and, due to the content, we expect people to have opinions and feelings about it. In fact, we welcome it. We are responsible to the people whose stories we share with this work. The goal is to amplify the voices of incarcerated folks and, due to privilege and freedom, there are two white people (neither with any experience of incarceration longer than one night) at the helm of this project. While working intentionally to give power to our incarcerated collaborators, we know we have not done this flawlessly. We are accountable to communities impacted by incarceration and we are here to listen. We do not expect anyone’s emotional labor and we welcome and appreciate feedback.
At the core of this project is a belief that people are not defined by their mistakes. We believe in healing and harm-reduction instead of punishment.
About the Artists
Leyla McCalla -- a bi-lingual multi-instrumentalist, cellist and singer -- is a former member of Grammy-nominated black stringband Carolina Chocolate Drops (Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons) and a current member of the powerful and widely-acclaimed Our Native Daughters (Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, Allison Russell), in addition to her own stunning solo career. McCalla’s work unearthing history and musical tradition, combined with her knowledge of cultural hybridization and her own identity as a Haitian-American, has given her an entirely unique voice & perspective; creating music that projects a respect for eloquent simplicity that is rarely achieved.
Zoe Boekbinder (they/them) is a folk-singer and songwriter and a founding member of the Prison Music Project. Songwriting has become their resistance language, a way to lift up the voices and stories of people who are marginalized by capitalism.
Nathen Jackson-Brown, a.k.a. Nate Dogg 916 is a father, a husband, and a helper. He has a youtube channel where he speaks with other formerly incarcerated people about prison. In most episodes, he encourages anyone to reach out to him for help if they are struggling after being released. He hopes to open a re-entry project one day to provide housing, food, and support for people being released from prison.
Ani DiFranco is a poet, songwriter, and activist who has worked to end the death penalty and support the work of the Southern Center for Human Rights and other justice advocates for 30 years.
Spoon Jackson is a poet and published author. He co-wrote a memoir, By Heart, with Judith Tannenbaum and published a book of poetry titled, “Longer Ago”. He is featured in the documentary, “At Night I Fly” and has a podcast by the same name. He also produces episodes for the podcast “Uncuffed”.
Samual Brown has been in prison for over two decades. In that time, he has received numerous university degrees and he started several prison programs focused on self-improvement, preparing for release, and Restorative Justice. He is an accomplished poet, lyricist, and rapper. He also plays guitar and is a prose writer. He believes in the movement to re-envision justice in the US and the world. Despite his laudable work, he has been denied parole twice in three years.
Bruce “Sincere” Dixon is a black, Muslim American and member of the Prison Music Project Collective. He was raised in Sacramento and was institutionalized at a young age. He was 16 when he committed the crime that put him in prison, where he is to this day. He is a lyricist, freestyle rapper and activist.
More about the Prison Music Project at prisonmusicproject.com