Liberty choir
Unlocking hearts through song

“ Liberty Choir is now in its sixth year in the Trinity Wing of HMP Wandsworth and it is considered to be one of the most successful volunteer programmes at the prison.”

Jeanne Bryant Governor HMP Wandsworth

“What Liberty Choir is doing is exemplary – using music in prison to create something unique. But the Liberty Choir is more than just the singing – their connection with the prisoners is tangible and their kindness, support and care extends way beyond the prison walls.”

Emma Freud OBE, broadcaster, cultural commentator & honorary trustee of Comic Relief

“In the criminal justice system, we consider that each prisoner who does not reoffend has a positive impact on at least 100 people in the community. “

Ian Bickers former Wandsworth Prison Governor

“What you do makes a world of difference. It helped me feel more human in a difficult and oppressive environment. It gave me something to look forward to each week.Thanks for taking us all under your wing and making a difference to our lives.”

J HMP High Down Liberty Choir singer

“The work you do is so important, so right. Hope this gift may help a little.” Clare and Michael Morpurgo

Liberty Choir volunteers and graduates before the South London Choir weekly rehearsal. Photo by Mark Harrison

Liberty Choir

Liberty Choir was dreamed up by MJ Paranzino, singer, composer and choir director, and her partner, the journalist and writer, Ginny Dougary, more than ten years ago. Their idea was to take MJ’s singers into prisons to create choirs with inmates in a continuous programme of choir singing.

The programme

The second part of the programme kicks in when the ex-offenders are ready to be released into the community – our hope, which has become a reality, was that former prisoners would feel comfortable joining the community choirs, where they would recognize familiar faces and friends, be part of a community and enjoy a healthy and fun activity.

We are now in our sixth year in HMP Wandsworth; we have been in our second prison, HMP High Down since October 2017 and our third prison, HMP Downview, our first women’s prison, since February 2018.

We are looking to expand into two to three more prisons in 2019 and are in discussions with two in particular to enter in early 2019.

Liberty choir updates

Since we launched in HMP Wandsworth’s Trinity Wing on April 1 2014, there have been many changes in the justice system and prisons. But Liberty Choir continues its work in our flagship prison, and have been working with our third Governor, Jeanne Bryant, with great success as well as the Governor of the Trinity Wing, Adrian Thompson. As Governor Bryant has said, she considers Liberty Choir to be one of the most successful voluntary groups that come into her prison.

We are now operating in three prisons, which includes HMP High Down and HMP Downview, our first women’s prison. We are looking into opening into another two prisons in early 2019 – bringing our total to five.

We have done five Friends and Family concerts in HMP Wandsworth – where friends and family members of the men and women inmates who sing in Liberty Choir get to see their loved ones perform and reveal talents and confidence they may never have witnessed before. We, the volunteers, and Liberty Choir team also get to invite our family members and friends and colleagues from other charities, VIPs, donors and high-profile supporters.

In 2019, we will be working to consolidate our work in our new prisons, as well as expanding into more prisons. There will be a number of important fundraising activities and events in 2019 and we will be updating the website with these dates as they become confirmed.

As always, we strive to fulfill our mission statement and values – as we extend into more prisons, we reach more prisoners and their families and our impact increases.

Please help us to continue to make a difference.

Liberty Choir Press and Events

Liberty Choir has been very fortunate to have good press coverage, as well as many opportunities to perform and host get-togethers. Liberty Choir graduates join MJ’s Community Choirs in a range of challenging and enjoyable activities, from informal performances and pop-ups to appearances at stately homes and outstanding venues, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal Festival Hall.

Brighton Fringe Festival 2018

Brighton Fringe Festival 2018 – an annual event for the Liberty Choir volunteers and graduates – this year was the 15th anniversary of MJ’s Community Choirs and the theme was All About Us…..where the choirs came together and performed a...

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Carol singing 2018 for Liberty Choir

MJ’s Community Choir singers and Liberty Choir graduates wrapped up nice and warm, gathered their bells and lyric sheets and headed off to various tube stations in West London, the southern end of the Northern Line and a bit of the Victoria line as well as...

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Curious Arts Festival 2017

Curious Arts Festival 2017, it’s the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love and the Liberty Men performed a celebration of the sounds of Summer 1967 alongside MJ’s Community Choirs at the Curious Arts Festival at Pylewell Park, Lymington…....

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Gold record

In 2015, David Gilmour, Liberty Choir patron and lead singer and guitarist with Pink Floyd, invited the Liberty Choir (ex-inmates and volunteers) to sing on his record Rattle That Lock. Upon release, Rattle That Lock racked up sales in excess of 100,000 meaning that...

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To see a full list of our board, patrons and supporters View here