"Songs in the Key of Free: Music as a Healing Force"
presented by August Tarrier and Miles Butler
August Tarrier and Miles Butler, co-directors of Songs in the Key of Free, will present a talk, with documentary video and music, that depicts the arts-based music program they co-founded which brings workshops in musicianship and songwriting to prisons. For the past year, they’ve been working at SCI-Graterford in Montgomery County, PA, partnering with 25 incarcerated artists to create a documentary film, a podcast, photo essays, and a cycle of songs addressing mass incarcerated that they are recording for an album in 2018.
The focus of their program is captured by this quote from Angela Davis, “The prison functions ideologically as an abstract site into which undesirables are deposited, relieving us of thinking about real issues afflicting those communities from which prisoners are drawn in disproportionate numbers . . . . It relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of society, especially those produced by racism, and increasingly, global capitalism” (Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete? Seven Stories Press, 2003).
August Tarrier is a community arts activist, a documentary filmmaker, a sanguine collaborator, a sleeve roller-upper, worker of modest miracles, diviner of mysteries, and seer of all things story. She is a writer, manuscript consultant, and editor who teaches workshops at area universities and in the prisons. She is the founder of Songs in the Key of Free, and of the Superheroes Project, an arts-based workshop for survivors of sexual trauma. She has been a Fellow at the Sundance Screenwriters Intensive, and at numerous residencies, including Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. She earned a Ph.D in Contemporary Literature and Cultural Studies at Temple University.
Miles Orion Butler is a multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter from the Philadelphia area who plays and records with several bands. He was born into a musical family and spent his youth singing and touring with the Keystone State Boy Choir. In recent years, Miles has toured nationally as a solo artist and with the folk ensemble The Breaking Yard. His lyrics contemplate society, story telling, love, consciousness, and freedom. Miles' background in management with social-justice-focused retail organizations provided a strong foundation in launching a nonprofit. He is the Co-Founder of Songs in the Key of Free.