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I'll keep on living after I die: Musical manipulation and transcendence at Louisiana State Penitentiary

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As the brutal practices of Southern prison farms ended, so too did the African- American work songs at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. The work of song, however, continues. Music offers today's inmates important transcendent experiences. Inmates say that music gives them a floating sensation, freedom, and power. Music facilitates a sense of privacy and re-inhabitation of life before incarceration in the form of musical sanctuary. At the same time, music does work for the institution, both in service of custody and public relations. This article examines the tensions within these different types of work, focusing on musical expression and introversion of older life-term inmates as they attempt to transcend prison aesthetically and strategically.

Keywords: Louisiana; R&B; gospel; jazz; prisons; transcendence

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of California.

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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  • The International Journal of Community Music publishes research articles, practical discussions, timely reviews, readers' notes and special issues concerning all aspects of Community Music. The editorial board is composed of leading international scholars and practitioners spanning diverse disciplines that reflect the scope of Community Music practice and theory.
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