The members of the band include some serving life sentences for offences including murder and theft

Meet the Zomba Prison band inmates of a prison nominated for the GrammysOffcial twitter handle
news Grammys Monday, December 21, 2015 - 13:36

The Zomba Prison Band has earned the much coveted Grammy Awards nomination for the year 2015 alongside the likes of Taylor Swift and Anoushka Shankar.

However, Zomba Prison Band is not a fancy name for a new age band but the summary of their unique status: all the singers are inmates of a maximum security prison in the African country of Malawi.

The members of the band include some serving life sentences for offences including murder and theft, according to a report in The Guardian. Their album, “I Have No Everything Here” has been selected for the best world music album category.  

Incidentally, this is also the country’s first Grammy nomination.


The making of the album started in 2013 when Ian Brennan, an American recording enthusiast working for violence prevention, spent two weeks in the prison inside with his wife.

His wife Marilena Delli who is a photographer and documentarian had a history with the country. Her father worked in the country for more than a decade and she did her thesis on the cinema of this region.

After the news broke out about the nomination, Brennan said, “We’d recorded some voices that just don’t sound like anybody else. They’re really signatory, fingerprint voices—and from individuals who have not really listened to other voice other than those in their immediate mix. They’re not spending time listening to Beyoncé over and over again.”

According to the couple, the jail already had a men’s band but it was hard to persuade the women to join but on the couple’s insistence they slowly joined in, according to Brennan.

However, Brennan noted, “Some of the best songs are from people who claimed they weren’t songwriters or singers.”


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