Music from the Big House

Music from the Big House

Rita Chiarelli on stage with one of The Pure Heart Messengers.

Music from the Big House

Original Concept By:
Photography Director:
Associate Producer:
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Music from the Big House (2010/2012)

Opened: 06/01/2012 Limited

DocuWeeks NY08/13/2010 - 08/19/20107 days
DocuWeeks LA08/13/2010 - 08/19/20107 days
Theaters (100+)06/01/2012
NYC06/01/2012 - 06/07/20127 days
Music Hall 306/15/2012 - 06/21/20127 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home, Facebook, Twitter

Genre: Documentary

Rated: Unrated

Beginning June 1, 2001 in New York City, MUSIC FROM THE BIG HOUSE will open in theatres in over 100 US cities over the 2012 Summer. In an unprecedented tour for Independent film, Rita Chiarelli will travel with the film to 60 US cities in 70 days performing in-theatre and conducting Q&As In select cities, Rita will also perform in music venues to support the film's release.


Rita Chiarelli, an award-winning recording artist, takes a pilgrimage to the birthplace of the blues, Louisiana State Maximum Security Penitentiary a.k.a Angola Prison. She never imagined that her love of the blues would lead her to a historic jailhouse performance with inmates serving life sentences for murder, rape and armed robbery.

This musical journey is a glance into what used to be the bloodiest prison in America, but now gives lifers something to live for through the power of music. In contrast to sensational stories of convicts, we witness remarkable voices of hope as their love of music radiates humanity and redemption on their quest for forgiveness.

About Rita Chiarelli

Rita Chiarelli, known across Canada as the "Goddess of the Blues", is a gifted songwriter and performer, with a soaring, three-octave voice that sets her apart from her peers, and has critics commenting:

" A voice so blue it could make the angels weep" -- Ronnie Hawkins, The Hawk

"A voice that can growl at her demons or soar with the angels, a gift for lyric, an ear for melody and the heart to combine them" -- Shelagh Rogers, CBC

Over the past five years, she has released Cuore, a recording of traditional Italian folk songs, which won the World Music category at the prestigious Canadian Folk Music Awards; Uptown Goes Downtown Tonight, a highly acclaimed collaboration with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra; and the soundtrack for Music From the Big House, a documentary feature shot at Louisiana State Penitentiary (aka, Angola Prison) which opens across the US in June 2012. Chiarelli developed the original concept for the film that movingly showcases the redemptive power of music through her perseverance, raw talent and passion as she organizes an historic, unprecedented jailhouse performance with musician inmates serving life sentences.

Her CD Sweet Paradise heralds a return to Chiarelli's Blues roots, and is her first album of all original tunes since 2001's JUNO-nominated Breakfast at Midnight.

Chiarelli has won every major Canadian Blues award, including multiple Maple Blues awards, CBC's Great Canadian Blues Award, Toronto Independent Music Awards, Hamilton Music Awards, Manitoba Blues Society and the Hamilton Blues Society's Lifetime Achievement Awards. Most recently, she was awarded the prestigious Maple Blues "Blues With A Feeling Award" for Lifetime Achievement.

Showing no signs of slowing down, Chiarelli continues to tour in North America and Europe and is gearing up for her U.S. tour to promote the summer 2012 release of Music From The Big House.

About the Filmmakers

Erin Faith Young & Jennifer St. John (The Producers)

Cache is a Canadian film and television production company with international award winning films including the Oscar and Emmy Award nominated short documentary, HARDWOOD. Presidents, Erin Faith Young & Jennifer St. John have both been in the industry for the last 10 years, working with broadcasters such as CTV, CBC, TVO, Vision TV, Knowledge, SCN and Canal D. They have proven track records to deliver quality programming and their slate of films have shown worldwide. Caché's mandate is to produce a wide slate of successful, thought provoking and entertaining television, film and new media content.

Bruce McDonald (The Director)

Canada's pre-eminent bad-boy of filmmaking has won international attention and numerous awards for films such as THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS (Best Canadian Feature and Best Director, Atlantic Film Festival), ROADKILL (Best Canadian Feature, TIFF) and HARD CORE LOGO (Best Canadian Feature, VIFF). Bruce's repertoire includes quality, music-focused documentaries ROBBIE ROBERTSON (Life & Times), METRIC IN NYC and DIE MANNEQUIN (The Rawside of...).

Steve Cosens (The Photographer)

The film's exquisite black and white photography comes courtesy of cinematographer Steve Cosens. Nominated for 3 Gemini Awards and 2 Genie Awards, Cosens is acclaimed for his work on films such as SNOW CAKE, THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS, and THE DARK HOURS.