Shelby County inmates sing their troubles away - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Shelby County inmates sing their troubles away

Shelby County inmates rarely make the news for something good but now a group of inmates is making headlines, not for their crimes, but for their talent.

It's a sound you don't expect to hear coming from behind prison walls. This group of Shelby County inmates found redemption through music in a jailhouse choir called Totally Forgiven.

Each week they spend hours in a prison library rehearsing more than 60 original songs.

"Soon as we've got an idea we run down the hall and snatch each other up. I work on music twenty-four seven," says inmate Willie Griggs.

Using a jail ID as a guitar pick, and an ink pen to keep the beat. They sing of their troubled pasts, life behind bars and second chances born out of faith.

"There's a lot of innocent people in jail I guess you might say, but I'm definitely guilty of what I did," adds Griggs.

"I've never really actually done nothing positive in my life, you know, until I met these guys you know," says inmate Lawrence Toney Shelby.

Their music has become much more than a pastime while serving time.

Inmate Courtney Bandy adds, "I mean you're talking about brothers who can not only sing but they sing inspirational songs that uplift the spirit."

"And the message we're really trying to get out is it pays to serve the Lord," says Willie Jackson.

"God knows what it takes for each person, you know. I didn't have to come to jail, but its been a blessing," says inmate Devin Crutcher.

"Whatever you're doing, if it's not right, you know, I'm going to be able to give somebody something to relate to," says inmate Shawn McCobb.

Inmate John Buckler adds, "they said it couldn't happen not in prison because of what goes on in prison but I'm here to tell them that's a lie. These guys are like family."

A family of convicted criminals using music to turn their lives around.

The men say it's the work of God.


Click here to email Anna Marie Hartman.

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