Playing for a Captive Audience: Live Music in Prison

This Christmas season, I had the pleasure of providing live music for the inmates at the Calgary Remand Centre.

It was a bit of Christmas music, and a bit of whatever they requested (if I knew it – I had to skip the Ozzy Osborne).  But I thought it might be fun see how the prisoners felt about having live music, and share a few of the comments I got through the institution. These were on comment cards prisoners filled out:


“That lady made me laugh!  She had a nice voice and I want to thank her for coming to play us music.”


“Thank you for the concert.  She should have been a comedian.”


“I hate being here at Christmas and was feeling pretty shitty about it.  Going to the concert and listening to the music made me feel a bit better.  I felt that I was kind of accepted for a change.”


“Our performer was a lot of fun and it felt like she didn’t care we were inmates.”


“Thanks for making us feel happy at Christmas.  The whole nite was no judgement and I liked that.  I also thought it was funny that that lady played a lot of songs about jail.  She was fun.”


“Thanks for working late to give us a concert boss.  Thanks for the food and the music, Jackie cracked me up and made me forget I was in jail for a second.”


So apparently they enjoyed it as much as I did.  And it didn’t hurt that I knew my Johnny Cash – thanks Johnny.

Goes to show you the power of live music – and that everyone is human, and needs to be treated like one.

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