Soda City Live: Claire Bryant releases her debut album, “Whole Heart”

Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 12:40 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A musical treat for you today by a South Carolina musician who just released her debut solo album. One thing very interesting about this is where she launched the album: Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville.

Claire Bryant is the assistant professor of Cello and Coordinator for Community Engagement at the University of South Carolina School of Music. Her new album is called Whole Heart.

Claire chose the prison for her release as she’s part of a program in our South Carolina prisons helping inmates hit a good note. As a native of Camden, she has been offering weeklong songwriting workshops at Lee Correctional Institution over the past decade as part of a criminal justice initiative.

Claire is the co-founder of the Carnegie Hall-affiliated chamber music collective Decoda.

“Sharing this significant moment with the incarcerated residents is not only to announce the return of Decoda’s renowned songwriting program, Music for Transformation, but it’s my chance to give an exclusive and memorable experience to people who are often forgotten by society,” Bryant said.

The program facilitates intensive songwriting and music-making workshops with Lee residents alongside Decoda musicians. It is designed to empower participants to discover their own creative voice and develop collaborative skills, which build and hone soft skills that are vital for reform during incarceration and for a successful re-entry into society. Since 2014, the program has yielded more than 125 original songs written by the men at Lee Correctional alongside Decoda artists. It is set to return in the spring of 2023.

The impact of these projects has proven to be transformative for the communities in which they take place and for the individuals who participate. The program has helped participants at Lee to expand their small music program into a self-run, comprehensive, year-round set of classes and workshops that serves more than 200 residents.

Claire also is sharing with WIS viewers her upcoming project, Lullaby Project in partnership with Carnegie Hall. As part of Bridging Our Distances, UofSC’s School of Music’s community engagement arm, the Lullaby Project would include three songwriting workshops over the course of the 2022-2023 school year.

As a national partner with Carnegie Hall, their small teams of UofSC students and faculty will write new lullabies alongside people experiencing pregnancy and new families in partnership with several community organizations such as the SC Department of Corrections (Camille Graham Correctional Center), Transitions Homeless Center, and Prisma Health (Perinatal Awareness for Successful Outcomes).

The first songwriting workshop is scheduled for October 29 at Camille Graham Correctional Institution in Columbia.

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