New Music for National Indigenous Peoples Day 2021

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I am so grateful that these gentlemen have an opportunity to share their stories through song today especially, June 21st. The first day of many to come! — Terri-Lynn Brennan, CEO, Inclusive Voices

On this solstice, and day of celebration of Indigenous peoples, we release these songs lovingly made by Indigenous artists. We hope you will enjoy, share and be edified by the music.

As the works were produced in prison, we take the time to note that Indigenous people make up 4.5% of Canada’s general population, while accounting for 31% of provincial / territorial custody cases and 29% of people federally incarcerated. Colonization has continued its repercussions in the form of intergenerational trauma that leads to these rates. Can we understand these statistics as real lives? As brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, daughters and sons? This ultimately exposes itself beyond a strictly Indigenous issue, but one everyone in Canada must work to understand.

Take the time to feel this and consider how you might help change this reality.
Begin where you stand.

Thank you from The Pros and Cons Project / Wolfe Island Records

New Music: Rise Up


From the album Paint In The Forest: Residential Homeboy

Do you want to hear what hope and transformation sound like?

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Joyceville & Grand Valley Institution Release Second Collection of Songs – Paint In The Forest and Private Town

The restorative justice project Pros and Cons has released two new albums, Paint In The Forest and Private Town.

These innovative song collections present a forceful, eclectic and celebratory musical depiction of life in jail.

Pros and Cons was created by Canadian artist-producer Hugh Christopher Brown.

Pros and Cons works inside federal penitentiaries, providing inmates with the tools and instruction to write and record their own songs.

Pros and Cons released its first album in 2014, Postcards From The County, which was recorded at Joyceville Correctional Centre in Kingston, Ontario. Exclaim! Magazine called it “inescapably honest and raw.”

The long-awaited follow-up is Paint In The Forest. 12 songs were selected from over 100 tracks recorded at Joyceville’s on-site recording studio to showcase Pros and Cons participants’ prowess with rock, funk, reggae and country. A highlight is Lord Prepare Me, a rendition of the traditional Methodist hymn—sung in English and Tamil.

Chris Brown explains: “It began as a simple, weekly workshop—a space for inmates to play, listen and share music. Nine years on, the program has grown beyond all expectations, and continues to prove that compassion is a key to a better society.”

In 2017, Hugh Christopher Brown and electronic music educator Aimee Copping began working with female inmates at Grand Valley Institution for Women, in Kitchener, Ontario.

The result was 2018’s Undisclosed Location. The first known album recorded inside a women’s prison, Undisclosed Location, as described by NOW Toronto as “soulful.”

Private Town is Grand Valley’s sophomore collection. Aimee Copping describes the production process. “The women I worked with this time around weren’t always sure what they wanted to write—or if they even could. There was a lot of one-on-one time, sistering and confidence-building mixed in with the singing and lyric-writing lessons.”

Inmates participate in Pros and Cons anonymously and on a volunteer basis.

Pros and Cons operates with financial and in-kind support from The David Rockefeller Fund, Kingston Soundworks, Long & McQuade Musical Instruments and Yamaha Canada Music. Pros and Cons is a federally incorported not-for-profit organization.

Pros and Cons participants have this to say about the project.“It’s a positive space, somewhere to go. We’re productive. We’re nice to each other. It’s like we’re not in prison when we’re in the music program.”

“I lost my faith for many years while incarcerated. That first day of the program in 2012 would have a profound impact—inspiring me to work with those society has marginalized.”

Watch video for “Private Town” here:

New Video and Music from Pros and Cons – the groundbreaking prison music program

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“Lost” from the album “Undisclosed Location” was recorded inside Grand Valley Institution for Women and performed and written by the inmates. This music video was shot on location inside the prison.

We also present to you “Delicate Love,” a lead track from the collection about to be released from Joyceville Institution.


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The Pros and Cons prison music program continues to grow. This year will see the release of a second album from Grand Valley Institute for Women, plus scores of tracks produced with the men in Joyceville.

The program will soon be announcing workshops in new institutions. Partnerships with The David Rockefeller Fund, Kingston Soundworks, Long and McQuade and Yamaha Canada are providing opportunities for inmates to develop skills in playing, writing, engineering and producing music.

All productions are given freely and anonymously, raising funds for restorative justice, education and victim support.

NOW Magazine: “…the first album made inside a Canadian federal women’s prison”

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It looks like a community centre or a campus – inmates live in shared housing, wear their own clothes, order groceries once a week – but Kitchener’s Grand Valley Institution for Women is a prison.

“We can walk around [between buildings],” an inmate tells me, “but we can’t leave.”

We’re sitting in a gymnasium set up for a special International Women’s Day program– “International Broads’ Day” as mentor/producer John Copping jokes by way of introduction. It’s an unlikely location for a CD release concert/listening party. As part of the Pros and Cons program, which brings musicians and producers into prisons to work with inmates, a group of women from GVI is celebrating the launch of Undisclosed Location – the first album to be written and recorded at a federal women’s prison in Canada, and the second to be made through the Pros & Cons program.

Read more at NOW Magazine…

570 News: Women’s prison in Kitchener releases music album in a Canadian first

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Talk about dropping bars behind bars.

Inmates at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener have released a 10-song music album, called “Undisclosed Location.”

It’s the first album written and recorded at a federal women’s prison in Canada and part of the Pros and Cons Program.

Founder of the program Hugh Christopher Brown tells 570 NEWS it all started by bringing music workshops into prisons, and it became popular in a men’s prison outside Kingston.

Read more at…

CBC News: Women at Kitchener’s Grand Valley prison release first musical album

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When she first walked through the doors of the music room at Grand Valley Institution for Women, Bayley didn’t know what to expect.

“I never knew I was musically inclined,” she told CBC News. “I never played an instrument before in my life.”

But when another inmate put a bass guitar in her hands and a microphone in front of her mouth, the young woman found something inside herself that both shocked and inspired her.

Read more at CBC News Kitchener/Waterloo…

Waterloo Region Record: Grand Valley inmates celebrate release of album

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KITCHENER — The voices of inmates at Grand Valley Institution for Women will be heard around the world through a groundbreaking new album released online.

It’s the first album written and recorded at a federal women’s prison in Canada, and available for anyone to listen for free.

“I hope that the music first of all moves them on its own merits,” said Hugh Christopher Brown, founder of the Pros and Cons Program that brings together music professionals and federal prison inmates to write and record original music “inside.”

“When people realize where it’s coming from, I hope it changes ideas.”

Read more the…

Selah, an all new track

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Rethinking Prison: Music and Life Beyond Punishment

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In his talk, Hugh Christopher Brown explains how the instigation of a music program with inmates taught him the importance of mentorship in prison; and how its effects on convicts deepened his understanding of what music is.

Project reviewed by Samaritan Mag

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“What does the rehabilitation of incarcerated people look like? Is it hard labour? Intensive counseling and soul-searching? Career training for eventual life on the outside? Chris Brown thinks he has a partial answer: prisoner rehabilitation looks a lot like making a record, which happens to incorporate all the above and plenty more.”
— Samaritan Mag 18 August 2014

Read entire article at Samaritan Mag

truthout op/ed

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“I was first motivated to get inside when the federal government began dismantling highly functioning programs, the chaplaincy and compassionate care inside prisons. It was obvious the tactic was to wreak havoc on successful programming to rationalize privatization of correctional services. Input from American senators who had experienced first hand the perils of a punitive based private prison system was unwelcome. Our crime rate had been dropping for over a decade and the severity index was in steady decline for 17 years. The sabotage of the agrarian and other successful programming in prisons was blatantly not in the public interest.”

Read more at truthout …

Kingston Whig Standard spotlight on the album release

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From June 5, 2014: Kingston Whig Standard:

About three years ago, as the prison farm at Pittsburgh Institution was decommissioned, musician Chris Brown felt compelled to do something to fill the newly created void.

“I became involved with that, and wanted to continue contributing to my environment,” explained the Wolfe Island resident. “In the past, I have a history of doing protests and fundraisers, and this time, especially with the destruction of the farms, I wanted to get in there and do something positive.”

So Brown approached the then-chaplain of the minimum-security prison, Kate Johnson, one evening after, fittingly, the documentary Music in the Big House was aired as part of a fundraiser.