A Grammy For Zomba

22/12/15Malawi-based Prison Project Receives Unexpected Nomination

A few months back, as our very first story actually, we reported on an ambitious Malawi-based prison project initiated by US Grammy-winning record producer Ian Brennan (who now has a total of four Grammy-nominated albums under his wing) along with his Italian wife Marilena Delli, a documentary photographer herself, who travelled to southeast Africa in the summer of 2013 for an incredible, musical human rights project at a local maximum-security facility.

Upon gaining access to the precarious grounds, they proceeded to realize, record and produce over six hours of music for their Zomba Prison Project in a multi-generational venture with male and female inmates between the ages of 20 and 60, virtual 'nobodies' on a global scale. This music was subsequently released via San Francisco-based Six Degrees Records, on an album entitled "I Have No Everything", ultimately creating awareness for a part of the world less covered by mainstream media.

About two weeks ago, "I Have No Everything" was suddenly nominated for a Grammy among World Music staples the likes of Gilberto Gil, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Anoushka Shankar and Angelique Kidjo! To help you put things into perspective, our friends over at fairplanet.org got a chance to receive some firsthand-statements from Ian Brennan himself that we would like to share with you:

a) This is the first Grammy nomination ever for the country of Malawi in the 58 year history of the awards.

b) Malawi was named the #1 poorest country in the world in February by the World Bank.

c) Only 12% of sub-Saharan African countries have ever received a nomination, with the bulk of the nominations being in the physically larger and “richer” countries (e.g., South Africa, Mali, et al.).

Ian Brennan admitted that he was genuinely astounded at the actual amount of attention the Zomba Prison Project gathered on a global scale, further relating it to "a real David & Goliath story (complete unknowns against titans of World Music)", but also adding that the nomination was "such a nice and unexpected gift for the season".

We agree, we think this is great news and very well deserved indeed! If you haven't yet, watch the Zomba mini documentary below:

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom