Drawing deeply on prison records, radio show transcripts, and the words and music of the inmates themselves, music writer Caroline Gnagy passionately tells the stories of these men and women musicians — who also were inmates — in her powerful new book, Texas Jailhouse Music: A Prison Band History (The History Press). Above all, Gnagy is careful to present singers and musicians as real people — mothers, fathers, lovers, friends — who happen to be behind bars.
I haven't seen Caroline in person since high school, but we've been longtime social media buddies, sharing stories and mutual memories of ill-fitting adolescences. I can't wait to tear into this, her first full-length book pub. Even the inscription, partially to her father, whom I remember vaguely but fondly, is touching and elegiac:
This book is dedicated to all the men and women who have served time in the prisons of our nation. So many of their forgotten voices, talents and stories will never be adequately conveyed to the world. And to my late father, Allan Stephen Gnagy, who in my girlhood drove for hundreds of miles, several times a week, to teach hundreds of prisoners the value of self-expression.