On December 14th, 2016, Tameca Cole was approved for parole by the Alabama Parole and Pardons Board. She will be coming home to Birmingham in the next few weeks, after serving eleven years in the Alabama DOC. I had the honor of speaking at her parole hearing. Tameca has written several lyrics for the Die Jim Crow LP. She is a stalwart collaborator who is multi-faceted in her interests: lyric, non-fiction, and prose writing; collage art (see her work here); and marketing strategies for the project. Tameca — congratulations and welcome home.
On the way to the hearing, I dropped off a Kickstarter reward to Mary Hamrick in Raleigh, North Carolina, who generously supported the Die Jim Crow EP Kickstarter. Mary — thank you for your support and your hospitality!
Also on the way to Alabama, I visited Milishia Gosha at Lee Arrendale State Prison in Alto, GA. Milishia is the writer of “Peace Lifer” and “Shit on a Shingle,” two songs off the LP. The visit was a lot of fun, also deep, as we philosophized about everything from politics to art, religion, America, the prison system, her past, my past — many things. Gosha was sentenced to life for a murder she committed at fourteen. The story is complex, but the killing was the result of essentially what was a robbery gone wrong (can a robbery go right?). Milishia has held strong to hope and thrived during her 18 years thus far in the system. Her second parole hearing will take place in 2018.
The last stop on the trip was New Orleans, Louisiana, where I spent a couple days meeting folks and establishing relationships. The first person I met was Robert Jones, a painter, who I had corresponded with while he was still incarcerated at Angola (aka Louisiana State Penitentiary). I bought a painting by Robert at the 2014 Angola Rodeo and later exhibited his paintings at prison art shows in New York. Jones is in the process of being exonerated from a murder he was accused of committing in 1992. The case is somewhat well known and was covered recently by the BBC (see article here). Jones spent 23.5 years in prison for this murder which he was completely innocent of, and is now rebuilding his life in his hometown New Orleans. Robert is a very smart and driven fella’ who is looking to make up for a lot of lost time — well he already is…
I also met Malcolm Morris again, who I had recorded a demo track with a couple years ago in NOLA; this time the meeting was a lot clearer as to what we wanted to achieve, as the DJC project is so much further along than it was two years ago — back then, there was no EP or finished tracks, so we just had some fun with a sparse recording of Malcolm drumming and talking. Now things are a lot clearer, and Malcolm, who spent 15 years also at Angola, is working on getting some cats together for some fleshed out tracks.
The tentative plan is to go back down south in a few months once Tameca is released and has her feet on the ground. So an Alabama/NOLA trip part 2 is in the works.
All in all, a great trip.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST — an honorable mention and thank you to Roberto Alejandro for a podcast he recently posted of an interview with me and dr. Israel. Listen here.
Happy holidays and new year to folks out there.