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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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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