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Folk-Rock Artist Gedalya’s Plan To Bring Hope To America’s Jails and Prisons

The singer/songwriter is launching A New Song USA to bring peace and inspiration to incarcerated individuals and those awaiting trial

 Gedalya is a folk singer who has dedicated his career to promoting compassion and togetherness through his music.  While his identity as an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi is central to his identity (he is affectionately known as the Folk-Rock Rabbi), he is adamant that his music is universally spiritual, so much so that he only performs in nondenominational spaces.  With the launch of ‘A New Song USA,’ he intends to bring his message of redemption to those who need it most.

By performing intimate concerts for incarcerated individuals and those awaiting trial, Gedalya intends to create a more peaceful environment for all involved.  His music is both calming and inspirational - spiritual but not religious.  He believes that he can help foster a sense of hope during what is the most difficult part of many people’s lives. 

 Gedalya is open to all opportunities to connect with people interested in joining him in this important mission.

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Concerts for Incarcerated Individuals

Jailhouse Folk-Rock

How one man is harnessing the power of music to give hope to incarcerated populations

For over 20 years, Gedalya has entertained and inspired audiences with his folk-rock melodies and uplifting lyrics. Now, he will be bringing his musical message of hope and healing to a larger audience with his nonprofit organization, A New Song USA.

Music’s Impact on Our World

Whether prompting memories in people with dementia (Morris, 2022), improving the health of aging adults (Howell, 2024), decreasing symptoms of depression (Aalbers et al., 2017), or strengthening neonatal brain development (UNICEF, n.d.), music has the power to substantially impact our lives at any age or stage. A recently published study from Harvard scientists sought to prove the age-old saying that music is a universal language, and the results were overwhelmingly supportive of this tenet. The researchers examined 315 societies around the world and found music in each one (Gottlieb, 2019). Across all language, economic, and social barriers, the message of music is identifiable.

The intention of A New Song may not be as monumental as finding evidence of long-held global beliefs, but the mission still matters. Helping a small group or even a single person facing hardship, fear, or hopelessness has great meaning, and that’s the beauty of music. It has the power to make a difference both on a large scale – connecting a country of people through a national anthem performance – and on a small scale – soothing a frightened child with a softly sung lullaby.

Concerts, too, provide a unique benefit for attendees, whether inside or outside of jail. Going to a concert strengthens the connection with others and provides a feeling of community. In addition, attending music performances improves hormone levels and immune function, increases self-worth, and even relieves physical pain (Incadence, n.d.).

Music reignites memories and transports the listener to a different time and place. Is there a song that brings you back to your first dance, a summer weekend spent with friends, or to your childhood home with your mother humming in the other room? Music can calm, energize, excite, or sadden us.

Aside from the emotional and nostalgic effects, music also has cognitive benefits. It stimulates brain function, improves learning, and strengthens neural networks (Budson, 2020). The right song can light a spark in our minds and our souls.

The Mission of A New Song

Gedalya is an Orthodox Jew, but the messages in his songs are intentionally created to be nondenominational. “My music is very universally spiritual,” he acknowledged, adding that the goal is to share his songs with people from all backgrounds who are searching for connection, inspiration, or strength. To ensure as many people can find enjoyment and comfort in his music as possible, his lyrics are written to be inclusive and welcoming to all.

Concerts for incarcerated populations have long been popular for providing beneficial entertainment and improving inmates’ moods and outlooks. By performing within penal facilities, Gedalya is in good company with numerous celebrated musicians from the past. Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, and Metallica have all performed concerts for inmates.

As a nonprofit organization, A New Song’s intentions go beyond providing incarcerated people with free, short-term entertainment. The charity was created as a vehicle to connect jail inmates with a healthy outlet for their energies and a temporary reprieve from their worries. Music brings people a sense of connection during incarceration, both with others in jail and with the world outside the jail walls. During a time when isolation and loneliness are difficult to avoid, connection through music is that much more important.

Making mistakes is a universal human experience, and everyone can benefit from being treated with compassion and respect. Through Gedalya’s music, A New Song provides inmates with a soundtrack for the next chapter of their lives, one that can be filled with positive change and second chances.

Why Music with a Message Matters During Incarceration

Incarcerated individuals face a myriad of disparities, including health, financial, and social. People who spend time in jail face significant stigma (Feingold, 2021). The discrimination and barriers to reintegrating into society can impact them before their time in jail ends in the form of anxiety and depression. A New Song uses music’s ability to improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other harmful psychological conditions to help those incarcerated in jail and awaiting trial.

A large body of evidence suggests that incarceration with a rehabilitative approach can have positive results (Dahl & Mogstad, 2020). While Gedalya’s music alone cannot make the system inherently rehabilitative, his songs can provide a crucial element – hope. There is no rehabilitation without hope. When inmates begin to feel sincere optimism and longing for the future, these feelings can inspire true change.

Spirituality has been linked to numerous positive effects, including decreased criminal behavior, less substance abuse, and better mental health (Roman & Roman, 2019). The songs performed by Gedalya and A New Song are spiritual folk-rock tracks that have comforted and unified audiences globally for decades, and that same hopeful spirituality can be shared with incarcerated populations during times of great need. Prioritizing the mental health of individuals in jail presents unique challenges, but spirituality has been proven to foster a sense of togetherness and understanding (National Alliance on Mental Illness, n.d.).

Combining the power of music and spirituality creates a powerhouse of inspiration and empowerment for the incarcerated population. In his free concerts with A New Song, Gedalya intends to provide unity through music, strength in song, and hope with lyrics. And just like he says in the closing song of his latest album, This is My World, we can move the world with music.

Author Bio

Gedalya is a folk-rock singer/songwriter with six albums and a dedicated fanbase around the world. His music combines the distinctive but classic sound of folk-rock melodies with inspirational lyrics and messages of hope that transcend religious denominations. His songs have comforted and uplifted people from all walks of life, and he hopes to continue sharing his music through his nonprofit organization, A New Song USA.

A New Song is raising funds to travel to perform our music in jails and prisons.
We're hoping that we can be a source of inspiration and strength, bringing hope to incarcerated individuals with our music.
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