Peterborough project – February 2019
HM Prison Peterborough is a Category B private prison for men, and a closed prison for women and female young offenders, located in Cambridgeshire. From February – March 2019, we ran our music project with a group of 15 women at the prison. Producer and Pianist Aron Kyne was the project leader and below he tells us about the highlights and challenges he faced during the project.
I was the project leader on the recent Finding Rhythms project in Peterborough prison. As project leader I oversaw the creation of a 12 track album and the delivery of a BTEC qualification all in the space of six sessions! I was also massively helped by Jihad as a producer and co-facilitator, Harry as additional producer and Jess as guest musician throughout the project. We had a huge amount to get through, but I’m always amazed at how quickly music can be created, once people start to feel comfortable with us and each other the ideas being to flow.
One of my favourite moments was on the first day. It was one of the participant’s final day of her sentence. She threw herself at it and did some awesome singing and writing – she can be heard singing the lead part on ‘I Ain’t Complaining’ & ‘Stronger’.
Another highlight was when we were writing the song ‘Brown Bear’, loosely based on the Stormzy song ‘Blinded by Your Grace’. One of the women jumped up on the mic and adlibbed a beautiful spoken letter to one of her loved ones!
Finally, when it came to naming the album, this was a hilarious session. I was suggesting some pretty rubbish ideas based on puns from some of the content of our songs, when one of the women shouted out ‘Nah… Who says crime doesn’t pay? Yes it does! £2.50 a week’, which went on to become our album title. It’s based on the fact that the minimum amount of money to live on that you receive in prison is £2.50 a week. Incidentally the average earnings for a week working in a public prison is around £6-7 per week, up to £35 in some private prisons.
Some of the harder moments were managing the group and keeping everyone engaged. We had some pretty big and great characters in our group so had to spend time making sure everyone was represented in some way on the album.
Overall it was a super enjoyable, exhausting and rewarding experience. I left with real respect for all incarcerated people serving sentences. I hope everyone that listens to the album enjoys it and appreciates all the hard work all the women put into it!
Listen to and buy the album from the Peterborough project