Parchman Prison Prayer: Some Mississippi Sunday Morning

GB 143LP GB 143LP

LP version. Haunting in situ recordings from Parchman Farm maximum security prison in Mississippi. Grammy-winning producer Ian Brennan (Tinariwen, Ustad Saami, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Zomba Prison Project) recorded the prison's Sunday gospel service and the results are unforgettable. The performances range from solo acapella to a floor-shaking electric band. The repertoire includes both traditional and newly penned spirituals. Some Mississippi Sunday Morning is an unfiltered and deeply resonant journey into a musical world rarely seen or heard. The notorious Parchman Prison has a rich musical history with Son House, Bukka White, Mose Allison, and Elvis Presley's father Vernon Presley having been former residents. Mississippi's oldest penitentiary, Parchman was founded in 1901 and has one of the highest prisoner mortality rates in the nation as well as experiencing ongoing riots. Due to restrictions on video and photos, the only artifact from this meeting are the sounds -- making the voices all the more ethereal and ghostly. One man's voice was so deep, it sounded like the Mississippi River singing -- as if Barry White were a soprano. Another freestyled a rap about the shame he feels for having caused pain to his mother and others due to his actions. Another was a 73-year-old, former "rock and roll" singer who'd survived prison, become a chaplain, and found God. A veil of sadness seemed to shroud. The singers' voices softened and textured by the inescapable regret that their environment confronts them with. Most songs were covers of Gospel standards, but delivered so imbued with subtext that they were transformed almost unrecognizably from the source material. One of the beauties of the experience was that it was a successful integration of white and black inmates, whose services are often held separately due to racial tensions. As the men beamed, hugged and hi-fived one another in celebration, Chaplain Sidney beamed, "The making of this record has brought much needed encouragement and hope to the men here at Parchman." These were voices unchained, if only for those few hours. Expressing a vocal breadth of freedom otherwise denied and restrained. Recorded 100% live without overdubs at Parchman maximum security prison's Sunday morning service.