Public Engagement

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The Zomba Prison Project | Social Justice Through Music | A Conversation with Producer Ian Brennan

Friday, February 17, 2017 at 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall 55 West 13th Street, Room I-202, New York, NY 10011

"Music and other forms of art are by far the most effective kind of social-work that exists. A single, nameless one-hit wonder brings more comfort to the world than almost any single psychologist can hope to in a lifetime." --Ian Brennan

Join us for a conversation with GRAMMY-winning record producer Ian Brennan about the relationship between music and social justice. He'll discuss his experiences recording inmates of Malawi's maximum security facility, the Zomba prison, share videos and recordings, and we'll explore how, in Brennan's view, "Innovation has almost, without fail, routinely risen culturally from the bottom to the top...many of the most important artists historically have originated from less than auspicious circumstances."

Ian Brennan has produced four GRAMMY-nominated records (World Music- 2011 and 2015, Best Traditional Folk- 2006 and 2007). He is also the author of four books.

Most recently, he produced the Zomba Prison Project “I Have No Everything Here” (Six Degrees Records), a record which was nominated for a Grammy award in World Music. Their new followup album "I Will Not Stop Singing" was just released in September 2016.

The project was featured on the front-page of the New York Times and on the television program "60 Minutes" with Anderson Cooper reporting.

This past year also saw the arrival of six other albums Brennan produced, including: Khmer Rouge Survivors [Cambodia] "they will kill you, if you cry" featuring survivors of the 1970s genocide; and “Survival Songs”, the first official solo album from legendary LA-underground figure, Bob Forrest (Thelonious Monster, Celebrity Rehab). It grapples with Forrest's own cycle of addition and recovery.

Brennan's fourth and latest book, How Music Dies (or Lives): Field-Recording And The Battle For Democracy In The Arts was published in February, 2016 (Allworth/Skyhorse, NYC). 
In the studio, he has worked with the likes of Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Kyp Malone & Tunde Adebimpe (TV on the Radio, Rain Machine), Flea, Tinariwen, Lucinda Williams, David Hidalgo (Los Lobos), Nels Cline (Wilco), DJ Bonebrake & John Doe (X, the Knitters), Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney), Peter Case, Bill Frisell, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Jonathan Richman, Richard Thompson, and more. 

With live concerts, he has produced shows of up to 15,000 people in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington (DC), Portland (OR), Tucson, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, and Boston with artists as diverse as Green Day, Fugazi, Merle Haggard, film-maker John Waters, Kris Kristofferson, Tammy Faye (Bakker), the Blind Boys of Alabama, Vic Chesnutt, Peaches, and the Vienna Boys Choir. These shows have raised over $100,000 for local charities and political causes.

This event is part of The Nth Degree Series: Creative Minds Creating Change.

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Getting Here

Detailed Directions

By Train:
The 4, 5, 6, N, R, Q and L to 14th St./Union Square.
The A, C and E to 14th St. and 8th Ave.
The 1, 2 and 3 to 14th St. and 7th Ave.
The The F and M to 14th St. and 6th Ave.
PATH train to 14th St. and 6th Ave.

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