ZOMBA (AFP) –The Malawian prison band nominated for a Grammy was proud of its achievements despite missing out on winning the award, the country’s head of jails said Tuesday.
“Although we had high expectations, we are not disappointed,” Little Dimizulu Mtengano, acting chief commissioner for Malawi prisons and a key supporter of the prison music programme, told AFP.
“We are actually over the moon because this was the first time a band behind bars received a Grammy nomination.”
The Zomba Prison Project’s record “I Have No Everything Here” was beaten in the Best World Music Album category by Benin-born singer Angelique Kidjo, who dedicated her win to aspiring artists across Africa.
Mtengano has promoted music in Malawian jails for many years, and he said he was delighted that the prisoners had the chance to “compete against seasoned and talented musicians”.
He said a well-wisher had offered to donate an air ticket for one band member to attend the glittering awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Monday night, but that no prisoner had been allowed to travel.
Among the musicians on the album was convicted murderer Elias Chimenya, burglar Stefano Nyerenda, and prison guard Thomas Binamo.
US producer Ian Brennan spent two weeks at the Zomba maximum-security prison in 2013 working with inmates and guards to make the 20-track record.
“I am a reformed person, and music has helped me to be cool and deal with the situation of being incarcerated for life,” Chimenya told AFP last month.