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Charlie Porter on Musical Connections at Sing Sing: ''Involvement in Music is Life-Changing''

Last season, Charlie Porter and his quartet visited Sing Sing Correctional Facility to collaborate on and perform original music composed by inmates. As shared in a previous post, Carnegie Hall's Musical Connections program offers weekly workshops at Sing Sing, like the one described below, which lead to concerts featuring these new compositions for the entire facility. Below, Charlie Porter shares his experience in a workshop captured on film by CBS This Morning. (Full coverage can be found here.)

By Charlie Porter

Music is a powerful way to establish common ground between people that might not normally interact with one another. In this video, Dennis, one of the musicians at Sing Sing who I'd not really had a chance to speak with yet, began playing a chord progression on the guitar, and I started throwing some ideas on top of it with my trumpet. Is there any better way for two musicians to introduce themselves?

It is important to realize that we all have the potential for creation or destruction and to consider how much environment plays a role in our early lives. I was fortunate to have been given a creative outlet in my childhood, which I believe opened doors of opportunity and kept me on a positive path, but there are many people in this country who are less fortunate than I am. The musicians we worked with at Sing Sing are more than just incarcerated convicts. They are men with families, friends, talent, and dreams. Involvement in music, as all of the Sing Sing musicians can attest, is life-changing. It is never too late to receive the positive effects of making music. Music does not judge or discriminate; it heals and strengthens our connection to ourselves and to each other. I only wish I could work with guys like Dennis, Kenyatta, and Mighty more often.

Musical Connections is a program of Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute that offers diverse live music experiences for people in healthcare settings, correctional facilities, senior-service organizations, and homeless shelters across New York City. Visit for more information.


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