This nonprofit is recording an album of songs written by Graterford inmates - Generocity Philly

Purpose

Jan. 5, 2017 12:49 pm

This nonprofit is recording an album of songs written by Graterford inmates

Meet Songs in the Key of Free, a fledgling organization that has partnered with the Curtis Institute and Mural Arts to bring Graterford its first music program in 10 years.

Lyrics by Graterford inmates.

(Photo by Miles Butler)

SCI Graterford hasn’t had a music program in a decade. That’s changing now, and soon, you’ll be able to hear it for yourself.

In an album. On a podcast. In a documentary. Through livestreams.

And all the songs will be written and performed by Graterford inmates themselves, thanks to fledgling music nonprofit Songs in the Key of Free.

Founded by musician (and former United By Blue operations manager) Miles Butler and educator August Tarrier, Songs in the Key of Free is partnering with the Curtis Institute and Mural Arts to bring music workshops to Graterford in hopes of restoring dignity to a population that has been dehumanized and disempowered.

Thanks to some startup funding from The Pollination Project, the nonprofit officially started programming this past October with songwriting workshops every Monday afternoon in the Montgomery County prison. Those workshops are guided by visiting artists such as rapper Dice Raw, poet laureate Yolanda Wisher, spoken word artist Ursula Rucker and more.

Right now, said Tarrier, 25 men are enrolled in the program and have arranged themselves into bands. The groups just held their first concert after two months of workshops. This spring, with help from Curtis, the men will hold their first major performance.

But the capstone of the nonprofit’s mission is to record an album. Tarrier said the songs all address mass incarceration.

“What we have at our core is the communion of voices and song. We’re lifting our voices together. We’ve already seen that in powerful ways with the men,” she said. “What’s at the base of everything we’ve done is the idea of reclaiming our goodness.”

From our Partners

Songs in the Key of Free is still working out some of the kinks of starting a nonprofit (like getting a strategic plan and a board together), but Butler said he’s already seen the impact the program can have on the people involved.

“Several of the guys have told us they feel humanity again and haven’t felt that in over a decade,” he said. “The 25 people in this workshop have been directly impacted already, as well as the seven or eight people who have come in as guest artists and collaborators.”

Keep an eye out for livestreamed concerts and pop-up events from Songs in the Key of Free this year.

Want more richly researched and deeply sourced community reporting?  Become a Generocity member for $10 per month -30-
LEAVE A COMMENT

From our Partners

PAR-Recycle Works continues to collect e-waste and transform lives at its new Hunting Park facility

‘Issues inside newsrooms bring real-world harm and put Black lives in danger’

Reawakening: Radee Hammett helps people jumpstart life after incarceration

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

Beyond Literacy: Combining nearly 90 years of history into one org

Philadelphia

Poverty Action Fund

Executive Director, Poverty Action Fund

Apply Now
Philadelphia

LaunchCode

Tech Leadership Fellow

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

United Way of Greater Philadelphia & Southern New Jersey

Managing Director, Financial Empowerment

Apply Now

Federal support has shored up nonprofits during the coronavirus pandemic, but many groups are still struggling

Want to build skills to tell the story of your organization’s impact? Join the RISE Partnership’s Readiness component

Nonprofit AF: Stop expecting nonprofits to merge. It’s annoying

SPONSORED

Generocity Philly

Inscripción Doble en Congreso: Lo que trae el futuro

Philadelphia,PA

Read by 4th

Manager of Data and Learning

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Philadelphia

Assistant Program Officer-Economic Development

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

Schultz & Williams

Project Manager

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Generocity