After 31 years in the Ohio prison system, Norman Whiteside is a free man. He was released on September 1st, 2016, where dr. Israel and I picked him up at Southeastern Correctional Institution. The moment of his release was ecstatic. His family sat beside us waiting, a large family at that, and when Norm came through the door into the prison waiting room, where on all other days only staff and visitors walk through, a palpable shock went through the room. His daughter let out a scream, and then the whole room applauded. Norman, jester as always, met the love and fanfare with a big “shhhh!!!” … though it stopped no one from going nuts. The next few moments must have been a dream to him, or something like it. His family swarmed him, and as we walked down the Southeastern parking lot, the men in state blues waved goodbye from the other side of the fence. We all waved back.
From the prison, we drove into Columbus to the church that Norman helped build with his grandfather. Norm gave an impromptu musical performance, which we’ll be posting some of soon, so stay tuned.
The following day we got right to work on “Shit On A Shingle,” a song about prison food which we began recording at Warren CI back in January 2015, when Norman Whiteside was still a ward of the state (though technically, Norman is still a ward of the state until his parole expires). Norm turned the song into a 60s-era doo wop piece, and the results were exciting. Sorry, but you’re gonna have to wait for the LP to hear that one.
OK fine, here’s a little taste.
Along with “Shit On A Shingle,” we got some additional material you’ll be hearing on the “Die Jim Crow LP”…
Four hours in to the session, Norm’s family swooped him up and took him to meet his granddaughter, and that was it — Norm was back on the move, living in the free world and reunited with family. So thanks Norman, it was a great session and an honor to be there for your release. Welcome home!
And look out for some tracks.