Houston Matters

The Lost Voices of Texas Jailhouse Music

Many incarcerated Texas inmates in the 1920s and 1930s learned musical instruments and performed in musical groups as a part of a prison rehabilitation program. They were behind bars in places like Huntsville, Brazoria and Sugar Land, but their music was often heard around the county on a radio show called Thirty Minutes Behind the […]

Photo: Michael Hagerty, Houston Public MediaTexas Jailhouse Music Book CoverMany incarcerated Texas inmates in the 1920s and 1930s learned musical instruments and performed in musical groups as a part of a prison rehabilitation program.

They were behind bars in places like Huntsville, Brazoria and Sugar Land, but their music was often heard around the county on a radio show called Thirty Minutes Behind the Walls, which aired for many years on WBAP radio in Fort Worth.

Their stories are told in a new book called Texas Jailhouse Music: A Prison Band History by Caroline Gnagy. She tells Michael Hagerty about the prison music initiative, which started as a public relations tactic.

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