By Chris Washburne
Freedom Trap is a band that was formed in 2018 as part of Carnegie Hall’s Musical Connections Program. Comprised for formerly incarcerated men from Sing Sing Federal Prison and facilitated by Columbia Professor Chris Washburne, the band has performed at Carnegie Hall, Global Citizen, RFK Human Rights Foundation, Columbia University’s Center for Justice, Columbia University’s Just Societies, Create Justice Forum, Department of Homeless Services 30th Street Shelter ,The Institute for Innovation in Prosecution at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Columbia University’s Beyond the Bars Conference, and even back at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. Musical Connections is Carnegie Hall’s longest running social impact program and began as a series workshops and performances created in 2009 at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. Through these workshops, a group of 30 men collaborate with professional artists and each other to create, perform and produce original music. More than 400 original pieces have been composed since the program’s inception. Participants express their voices and have new opportunities for personal growth. Their stories also build human connections that create empathy, inform policy, and strengthen communities. Workshops take place every other week throughout the year, culminating in five concerts performed for the men’s peers. After returning home to New York City, these men meet regularly to support each other, inform the program as an advisory committee, and continue to make music.