Hear stunning music recorded inside Mississippi’s infamous Parchman prison

by The Insights

Olivier is part of a new management regime that took over Parchman Farm in 2020 and has strived to reform the prison. Brennan believes they viewed the musical project as a positive step. “They said, ‘We really do want what’s best for these men.’ There’s been a lot of negative press. I think they wanted to communicate: ‘Look, we really are trying.'”

Nonetheless, access was tightly controlled. The names of the singers are not listed on the album. None of them were available for interview and we will never see their faces. All that is shared are their voices. “That was the agreement, to make it happen after so long,” says Brennan. “It reflects the ghostly nature of it all. It’s [also] a balance of concern for the victims or victims’ families.” Any money raised from the projects will go to the prison itself.

Some Mississippi Sunday Morning ends with a raucous full-band jam of the traditional Lay My Burden Down. You can hear the thrill of the performers, and their reluctance to let the moment end. “People ended up hugging each other, smiling, laughing and high-fiving,” says Brennan. “One of the chaplains was live streaming it to one of the heads of the prison. He told me later they were so happy to see this joy inside the prison. In that moment, I felt like, OK, this was a worthwhile endeavour.”

Parchman Farm Prayer: Some Mississippi Sunday Morning is released by Glitterbeat on 15 September.

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