Songwriter setting up record label for former prisoners

Jill Brown has worked and performed with men at Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow for a number of years.

A singer-songwriter is setting up what is believed to be Scotland’s first record label for former prisoners.

Jill Brown has previously worked and performed with men at Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow over a number of years.

Before lockdown earlier this year she also helped complete a series of songwriting workshops in the jail, one of Europe’s largest, which gave her the idea for the label.

Criminal Records will be a social enterprise generating income through training in courses such as traditional and social media, presentation and positive personal impact skills.

The workshops will also be offered externally as well as to ex-offenders leaving prison who are signed to the label.

Ms Brown said: “It’s hard to express how much I enjoy working with guys who end up inside.

“Society writes off and dehumanises prisoners but when you go into a jail you realise that the people there are largely from chaotic and troubled backgrounds.

“There are some really talented people inside who will never be given a chance to leave their old lives and pattern of offending behind, something most are keen to do.

“As a universal language, music is something we all have in common.

“It has taken years for me to find my own voice and I want to use my gifts, abilities and experience to equip and empower others to use and find theirs.

“I aim to offer an alternative to criminality and give people a range of transferable skills and opportunities.”

The label launch has also gained support from Eric McLellan, the former right-hand man of American music mogul Seymour Stein who signed acts included Madonna, Talking Heads and The Pretenders.

Mr McLellan – who himself has signed US artists such as Deniro Farrar, Delta Rae and Samantha Fish – will help Ms Brown search for new talent having his own expertise in hip-hop.

He said: “I’ve known Jill for some time and when she told me about the label I jumped at the chance of being involved.

“Music can be a very self-seeking industry and she’s doing something really distinctive and worthwhile.

“I’m really looking forward to being part of Criminal Records’ vision and discovering talented musicians we can develop.”

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