Local rapper Chill Moody will headline a benefit show tomorrow night at the South Philly venue Boot & Saddle. Proceeds from the concert will go toward Beyond the Bars, a nonprofit that aims to increase music education resources for incarcerated juveniles in Philadelphia.
The benefit will also feature fellow Philly emcees Kuf Knotz and Grande Marshall. Beyond the Bars offers instruction to young inmates, equipment included. One class might have five to eight students, according to the website, with teachers leading them to play together as an ensemble. Beyond the Bars also offers music lessons to students outside of correctional facilities, many of whom have relatives in prison.
“I have friends and family members out of prison who’ve dealt with issues,” Moody said. “It’s good knowing that art can help them reform… Whatever pain they might be feeling, there’s amazing art that can come from that, so it’s important to give them those resources.”
As of last week, there were 143 youths in detention at the Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center. Another 563 youths were in court-ordered placements, but not lockdown.
In addition to this, there are currently 41 minors in Philadelphia’s prison system being tried as adults; 88 percent are black or Latino.
A 2014 study on the benefits of music education activities for incarcerated juveniles focused on a joint choral program between Carnegie Hall and New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services. Staff reports on the program revealed that “young people’s externalizing, or acting-out, behaviors were significantly lower.” Almost half of participants said the program had impacted their confidence and state of mind.
With cautioning that the success of these activities can vary with the environment and the institution, the report noted, “potentially, the choirs created ecologies where it was both adaptive and safe to let go of isolated, vigilant, or aggressive behaviors, and try out mutuality, engagement, and the vulnerability of creating and performing in public.” The study was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Arts advocates have kept an eye on music education as a possible means to reduce recidivism. When looking at cases closed in 2012, according to a 2016 Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission report, 24 percent of juveniles in Philadelphia committed another crime after their release. That was slightly higher than the statewide number, where 19 percent of juvenile convicts had re-offended.
Moody said he hopes listeners won’t just come to the concert, but spread the word.
“A lot of these youth are looked over, forgotten,” he said. “Awareness is the number one to sort out that problem… It don’t always got to be public or social media, just tell somebody.”
Benefit for Beyond the Bars, Thursday, July 13, doors at 7:30 pm, Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad Street, $10