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Program Brings New York Musicians to Write and Perform with South Carolina Prisoners

The horn section of the band at Lee Correctional Institution.  Musicians work on original songs to perform with members of DeCoda, a New York-based chamber music group.   The annual week of collaboration is something new for everyone involved.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio
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The horn section of the band at Lee Correctional Institution. Musicians work on original songs to perform with members of DeCoda, a New York-based chamber music group. The annual week of collaboration is something new for everyone involved.

Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville counts numerous musicians among its inmates.  Such is their talent that they have attracted the attention of DeCoda, a New York-based chamber music group.  For four years now, the prison has sponsored a program with the group in which DeCoda comes to work with the prisoners at Lee for a week to write and play music for an annual performance.  

DeCoda co-founder Clair Bryant, a native of Camden, is very impressed with the Lee musicians, and says they have improved to the point that, while in the beginning DeCoda members were helping them write, this year the inmates had 24 songs written by the time the New York group arrived.  Two musicians also talk in this segment about what the program means to them.

Tut Underwood is producer of South Carolina Focus, a weekly news feature. A native of Alabama, Tut graduated from Auburn University with a BA in Speech Communication. He worked in radio in his hometown before moving to Columbia where he received a Master of Mass Communications degree from the University of South Carolina, and worked for local radio while pursuing his degree. He also worked in television. He was employed as a public information specialist for USC, and became Director of Public Information and Marketing for the South Carolina State Museum. His hobbies include reading, listening to music in a variety of styles and collecting movies and old time radio programs.