Seniors serenade prison inmates

Seniors serenade prison inmates

It's the music mix you probably haven't heard -- the one involving pensioners, prisoners and pop. But that's what played out when a group of senior citizens serenaded the inmates at Auckland's women's prison.   

It was a meaningful performance in more ways than one. 

Prisons often sound the way they look -- grim. One day last week at the Auckland Region Women's Correctional Facility, there was a much more joyous sound to be heard. 

It wasn't a shakedown, but the over-70s young-at-heart choir shook it off to several hundred prisoners.

Jill, Pauline and Mary are all part of a chorus that started up in 2012 singing modern music. And even when slightly challenged, or even slightly broken, they dare to perform in places like the prison.

"For them to come in here in this harsh environment -- it's a harsh environment -- and to bring us all in for that, it was cool. There were the hardest ladies there crumbling under their skin," says prisoner Jo.

In a place where so much is taken away, prisoners Jo and Michelle say the choir gave them something back -- music.

"It's something we're born with. It's something that we breathe, and we all just connected with them because we all love music," says Michelle.

Prison director Cheryl Mikarere says for the women inmates, music is a therapy that uncovers talents sometimes hidden for too long.

"You could really see the potential in these people, and that's what I love the most," says singer Beverley Faulknor.

"It just keeps us realising that we're not nothing. People out there actually do care about what we do and they hear us," says prisoner Julie.

That's because, at least today, the prison didn't sound grim; it actually sounded great.