Criminal Records came about through the founder’s decade of experience administering music workshops at a Scotland prison.
Over the last decade, singer-songwriter Jill Brown has spent time hosting songwriting workshops at HMP Barlinnie, Scotland’s largest prison. Through her work, Brown took notice of the positive impact of music on the mental health and well-being of inmates in Scotland’s correctional system. The experience has now led her to develop a record label of her own, specifically geared toward recording ex-convicts and the incarcerated.
Aptly titled Criminal Records, the label was born out of Brown’s desire to give inmates a voice. Brown posits that it’s difficult to lock someone up and expect them to come out changed without having introduced something positive while they are still in prison. She ultimately believes music could be the answer to help steer inmates toward the path to rehabilitation. One inmate gave a glowing review of the music workshops, stating, “When I’m in my cell it [music] gives me something to look forward to—hopefully using it to keep me out of the jail when I’m outside.”
Though Brown points to a history of iconic music being born out of the correctional system, she believes the endeavor will be met with mixed reviews. “We wouldn’t work with anyone who is still considered to be a danger to society,” she elaborated. “And obviously we do have to be sensitive in terms of there being victims.”
Fortunately, however, Brown is being joined by Sire Records veteran Eric McLellan, who was inspired to join the venture after reflecting on “All Eyez on Me,” a Diamond-certified song written by Tupac Shakur during his incarceration.
Together, McLellan and Brown are out to make their first signing to the newly minted imprint.