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New Cities and Memory callout – Prison Songs

Prison SongsIntroducing our latest callout for artists – we have a limited amount of space available for this call, so please include links to previous work etc. if you’re new to Cities and Memory and would like to take part.

Prison Songs

We have fifteen recordings taken from the Mississippi State Penitentiary in 1947 – songs by prisoners about life, work, God and love.

We’d like you to reimagine them into new pieces – new songs, new musical works, new sonic expressions of the souls of these songs and their singers.

There are classic examples of the ‘field and holler’ work songs sung by working gangs of prisoners, as well as moving solo pieces.

As well as being an amazing historical document, these prison songs are amongst the most moving and powerful recordings you’re likely to hear, recorded as they are by men imprisoned and forced into hard labour.

It’s been on my mind to reimagine them for some time, as I believe some incredible and beautiful pieces can be moulded by reimagining this particular source material.

I’m personally very excited by the idea of producing a collection of reimagined prison songs.

I hope you’ll join me in taking on this challenge!

How it works:

  • Drop us an email if you’re interested
  • We’ll send you a link to a folder of the prison songs to listen to
  • Choose your TOP THREE songs in order of preference
  • By 18 March, we will let you know which song to work with
  • This process is to make sure all of the songs are worked on, and everyone doesn’t choose the same piece (!).


  • Deadline to indicate your interest: Friday 18 March
  • Deadline to submit your reimagined prison song: Friday 15 April
  • Project launch: Monday 18 April

The project will be hosted online at, on our sound map on the site of the old penitentiary, and a collection of pieces will be released as our new album, Prison Songs.