In 2014 five songwriters involved in Vox Liminis prison-work were teamed up with someone with personal, practice or academic experience in criminal justice. They were commissioned to write a song exploring the impact and outworking of crime from the perspectives of victims, perpetrators, and family members. A Conversation Through Song was facilitated over an afternoon in The Briggait; each song was played, and 60 invited participants had the opportunity to express a response to the music through personal reflection and group discussion.
We also welcomed an audience of around 160 people to the evening session of our Distant Voices event in June. Songs written in Vox Liminis projects were shared alongside commissioned work. The sharing of the human stories that connect us all created an emotional bridge and an awareness that people in prison, while removed from society, are fathers, sons, mothers: people like us.
One participant summing up the day said: ‘Today has been a challenge to my brain, a testing of my beliefs, stretching of my heart, and a feast for my soul’
In the words of Michele Burman, Professor of Criminology: ‘I never thought I’d write a song! Doing so in collaboration with others as part of Distant Voices was such a wonderful and enriching experience. I really want to do it again…please.
SCCJR’s relationship with Vox Liminis and the collaboration on the Distant Voices project has been extremely positive. It has afforded opportunities for new and valuable forms of engagement between academic researchers and musicians and those affected by imprisonment, as well as the broader public. Importantly, the collaboration has furthered our collective aims of opening up hearts and minds to the value of music and song in conveying and reflecting complex questions about punishment and imprisonment.
From Distant Voices in 2014, there is an EP of songs available. Distant Voices: live at The Briggait is a 5 song EP, recorded live on 13th June 2014, and is available to purchase here for £6.50 (Including P&P) or £5 in person.