Grammy and Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Rhiannon Giddens is collaborating with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project on a fundraising initiative and a powerful music video for her song "Another Wasted Life." The music video was released today, on the 10th annual Wrongful Conviction Day. The "Another Wasted Life" video features 22 wrongfully convicted people, clients of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. It aims to raise awareness for the stories and voices of those who have experienced the injustices of the criminal legal system.
Giddens recently filmed the video in Philadelphia with the 22 formerly incarcerated people, who collectively spent more than 500 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. It features their names and the number of years that each spent wrongly incarcerated. The video was directed by Daniel Madoff.
Inspired by the tragic story of Kalief Browder, a young man wrongfully incarcerated at New York City's Rikers Island for three years, where he was subjected to nearly two years of solitary confinement, Giddens wrote "Another Wasted Life" as a reminder of the human toll exacted by wrongful convictions and the importance of prison reform.
Says Giddens: "I wrote 'Another Wasted Life' after reading about the tragic suicide of Kalief Browder - another soul caught up in the incarceration system for a crime he didn't commit. He was put into solitary for almost 2 years, a torture no one deserves, no matter what they did or did not do. The whole for-profit prison industrial complex - an outgrowth of slavery - is a stain on the American story; the people and families caught up in it, and in the numerous gaping holes in the social safety net, need incredible amounts of support.
If you know anything about my work, you know my music tends to have a mission - one that amplifies underrepresented voices and stories. My new album is a little bit different, and this track is stand-alone in its mission due to the weight of its place in our world.
These ongoing societal struggles are so far beyond any one of us, and have been long at play; but, I will use my platform to take things just one step further in the conversation."
Giddens and the Pennsylvania Innocence Project have also launched a fundraising initiative to support the legal and reentry services provided by innocence organizations. In addition to placing a fundraising link on the video, Giddens has fundraised for local innocence organizations throughout her tour. She partnered with a wrongfully incarcerated artist named Spel to create limited-edition merchandise items, with all proceeds going to support each local organization. Spel's case was one of the first to be picked up by Pennsylvania Innocence Project at its inception in 2009 and is still open almost 15 years later. She has also invited innocence organizations across the country to set up information tables at shows, is highlighting their work on stage, and has dedicated all tips at the merchandise table to them.
"We are proud to have Rhiannon Giddens standing with us this Wrongful Conviction Day in support of innocence work. We are grateful for her efforts to lift up the voices of our clients - those who have been exonerated and those who are still fighting for freedom - and to raise support to keep our work going," says Meredith Rapkin, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project.
Go to http://www.anotherwastedlife.com to learn more about this collaboration and the merchandise with Spel's design. Visit http://PAinnocence.info to see more about the innocent people featured in the video and to donate.