Hamilton gospel singer/songwriter Nicky Moran received a warm and positive response when she performed to prisoners in Otago Corrections Facility (OCF) late last week.
A part time mental health nurse at the Henry Bennett Centre in Waikato Hospital, Nicky has taken extended leave to tour and perform at New Zealand prisons as a national independent prison volunteer.
“Events like this in the prison can be quite inspirational and have a great impact on the men,” says Acting OCF Prison Director Lyndal Miles. “They are often surprised by the impact that music can make to their thinking and how the lyrics connect with them.”
Nicky is a singer/songwriter with distinctive vocals and keys. She sings unique folk, rock, country, gospel and soul styles. Each song she has chosen has a strong, inspirational message that connected with the audience, both prisoners and staff. In between songs she shares the meanings behind her songs and offers words of encouragement to the audience.
Her varied song list includes covers of popular songs from well-known performers like Dave Dobbin and Leonard Cohen as well as self-composed numbers with a spiritual theme.
“This is not something the men would necessarily engage with in the community and we get very positive and powerful feedback from the attendees,” says Lyndal.
It is this connection that Nicky finds most rewarding and which is reflected in the response from the prisoner audience, which she says gave her “a strong reception.” Other comments from the prison audience included ‘I feel inspired now, it's been hard to keep strong’.
“A couple of men said they want to share that since being inside they feel they have started a new path and feel encouraged today and want to keep going that way. One also said he feels more hopeful about the future.”
Beginning in January 2015, Nicky had done four regional tours by January 2016 with over 100 concerts in 17 prisons. She aims to continue to tour all New Zealand prisons with gospel concerts annually from mid-September to mid-October.
This year she has released a new album 'New Zealand Kids Songs' for children to promote in schools and help raise funds for her prison tours.
“I love singing and making music more than anything else. It takes me to another place. The songs I write are inspired, offering peace and hope on the journey of life,” says Nicky.
Otago Corrections Facility was Nicky’s 9th prison, and her current tour concludes at Mt Eden in Auckland on Wednesday 19 October.
“All sixty of the men in the prison Drug Treatment Unit attended and the concert was a hugely impressive event,” says OCF Residential Manager, Lane Groen.
“Music has a way of connecting with people and reinforcing positive messages in a very powerful and meaningful way. These events can have a big impact on the men.”
After Nicky had finished, the prison cultural group gave her a small concert as a way of saying thank you.
Prison Chaplain, Peter Collett added, “the performance was greatly enjoyed by the men. Nicky had them smiling, laughing and tapping their feet to the music. She brings a lasting experience to heart and soul.”
“It was a very moving afternoon for all involved.”