Indeed, you may have read the title and wondered, “Interesting. But why is it good news?”
Let us set it up for you.
Meet Ian Brennan (left), author, musician, and Grammy-winning producer. If his name sounds familiar, that shouldn’t be a complete surprise. That’s because Ian was instrumental in pioneering the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur as a music-venue by bringing the first national touring acts there in 2001 (Loudon Wainwright III, Jello Biafra, et al).
His benefit concerts have raised over $100,000 for local charities and political causes. And as a musician and songwriter, the Boston Phoenix notes, “His lyrics are a model of economical, unpretentious, narrative songwriting.”
So, back in the summer of 2013, Ian and his wife, Italian photographer and filmmaker, Marilena Delli, traveled to the south of Malawi specifically to document and record the music of prisoners at the maximum security prison in Zomba.
Their efforts produced multiple albums, often the first ever released internationally from the respective regions and/or in their local languages.
And according to Rolling Stone, one album, the Zomba Prison Project’s I Have No Everything Here scored a surprise Grammy nomination in the Best World Music Album category.
“The idea had been fermenting for quite a long time,” producer Ian said of the undertaking. “Wanting to not only to give voice to people who are under-heard or underrepresented internationally, but also to go even deeper into some of the most under-heard and underrepresented people of these populations. My belief is almost everyone is musical and I think that people that are under-heard have even more to express potentially.”
Read more about the Zombra Prison Project here.
What’s more, Al Jazeera took a look at the making of the album. Check it out here.