The Louisiana State Penitentiary — also known as Angola Prison and nicknamed “The Alcatraz of the South” — is the largest maximum-security prison in the United States. Located on the former site of a plantation owned by slave trader Isaac Franklin, it might seem an unlikely source for redemptive music. But while on her long journey along Highway 61, Canadian blues musician Rita Chiarelli felt compelled to visit Angola, whose dark history of crushing labor and sexual slavery arguably make it the nation’s most notorious prison. That visit led to Music From The Big House, a documentary that follows Chiarelli to Angola and shows that, like Antebellum slaves, inmates throughout the prison’s 100-plus years have taken solace in song and created a rich musical history in frightful circumstances.
William Alton | July 19th, 2012 | 1 Comment