The Iowa Idea: Mary Cohen
Who we are as people helps us relate to others.
In this episode of The Iowa Idea Podcast, I sit down with Dr. Mary Cohen who is an Associate Professor and Area Head of Music Education at the University of Iowa. Mary researches music-making and wellness with respect to prison contexts, writing and songwriting, and collaborative communities. Mary discusses her journey to explore the idea of prison choirs and creating a community prison choir in Iowa. The Oakdale Community Choir is comprised of inside singers, those in the prison, and outside singers, community volunteers from outside of the prison.
Mary talks about the community benefits of looking at justice through the lenses of transformative and restorative justice. Exploring the healing that might take place as we look to improve outcomes for all involved in these complex issues. We discuss the problematic incentive system associated with the U.S. prison system.
As of May 2020, 154 original songs have been created, and they have had 174 inside singers and 149 outside singers participate in the choir.
This episode highlights the importance of community, collaboration, and creativity, especially the notion of social cohesion through creativity.
I’d like to thank Mary for joining me for this discussion. I hope you enjoy the episode.
Mary L. Cohen, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and Area Head of Music Education at the University of Iowa with a joint position in the College of Education and the School of Music. She researches music-making and wellness with respect to prison contexts, writing and songwriting, and collaborative communities. Since 2009, she has led the Oakdale Prison Community Choir, comprised of male inmates and women and men from the community.
She facilitates songwriting with choir members. As of May 2020, 154 original songs have been created, and we have had 174 inside singers and 149 outside singers participate in the choir. Some of these songs along with the choir newsletters are available at http://oakdalechoir.lib.uiowa.edu/. Her research is published in venues such as the International Journal of Research in Choral Singing, Journal of Research in Music Education, the Australian Journal of Music Education, Journal of Historical Research in Music Education, Journal of Correctional Education, the International Journal of Community Music, and the International Journal of Music Education, and numerous book chapters.
Education, Journal of Correctional Education, the International Journal of Community Music, the Choral Journal, and a number of edited books.
Additional resources mentioned in this episode:
- Equal Justice Initiative https://eji.org/
- Justice Arts Coalition https://thejusticeartscoalition.org/
- Oakdale Choir http://oakdalechoir.lib.uiowa.edu
- “Redemption Songs: A Year in the Life of a Community Prison Choir”
Choir performance at the beginning of the episode is “The Light That Shines Within” by Paul Soderdahl. © 2017 Paul Soderdahl, licensed under Creative CommonsAttribution-ShareAlike 4.0
The Iowa Idea Podcast music was written and performed by Paisley Bible.