Prison songs inspire musicians
Mon, 11 Jun 2012 11:13p.m.
By Laura Frykberg
A group of New Zealand musicians spent part of last year working with some unlikely collaborators - prison inmates.
And now the product of their endeavours has been released, an album called Songs from the Inside.
For seasoned musicians getting fresh ideas for new songs can be a bit of a challenge, so who better to get a different perspective from than prisoners?
Musicians Warren Maxwell and Anika Moa are among a group of four New Zealand artists featured in a television series who worked with inmates to make a new album called Songs from the Inside".
Rimutaka Prison isn't for the fainthearted, but being tough doesn't make putting your feelings down on paper any easier .
“I started writing about my son because he was in a bit of trouble and there was nothing I could do, there is nothing you can do when you’re in lockdown and it hurts that much that the only way to get over it was to write about it,” says paroled prisoner Nelly.
Nelly was among ten prisoners who worked on the album - she'd been in prison for around three years for aggravated robbery.
So too had inmate Lena, but for drugs charges. She also wrote about some of her most personal experiences.
“I’ve had seven kids and the six I have remaining they were with my mother and she stepped up like hard out so my song is just a dedication to my mum,” says Lena.
Warren Maxwell from Trinity Roots helped the inmates record their songs along with Anika Moa, Maisey Rika and Ruia Aperahama.
He says the project was one of the most rewarding of his career.
“I had a feeling that they were going to bring to their song writing that depth that a lot of us have never been able to and they definitely delivered on that,” says Maxwell.
For ex-inmate Tama his contribution to the thirteen-track album is a song about God, who he turned to after being jailed for manslaughter.
“I used to think I had no way out in life, then I turned to him for advice, for a lot of things, he helped me out and the first song is I want to just like you ‘OG’ I want to be just like you ‘OG’ -represent God, or be original gangster,” says Tama.
The album is now in stores, but for Lena, the music started before the project and will continue long after .
“We’re Maori, that’s just how we do. We were musicians before, you know all the whanau was. Chuck us a guitar and a garage, you know even chuck the gat and we’re out, you know, that’s what we do,” says Lena.
Now they're all just hoping Songs from the Inside will help them with life on the outside.
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12/06/2012 5:03:11 p.m.
LOVED THIS PROGRAM BIG UPS TO THESE PEOPLE REAL STRONG MEANINGFUL WORDS, KA MAU TE WEHI!!!!! TU MEKE ANIKA MOA< MAISEY RIKA, WARREN, RUIA MEAN MAORI....
12/06/2012 10:31:21 a.m.
This was a fantastic show with some beautiful songs produced. Well done to everyone involved.
12/06/2012 8:26:22 a.m.
Put your bed sheet back over your head you idiot.....Dwight. Finally we have some people making a decent go after a lesson in the school of hard knocks and then you come along with comments like that.....perfect that's all they need clown. Hey by the way I hate the GC, Shortshag St. But this is pure NZ. Aotearoa - melting pot of the pacific. Kia Kaha
12/06/2012 12:16:18 a.m.
pls don't say any nz on air or tax player money contributed to this
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