Cleveland-born poet, writer, and activist Keith LaMar tours Europe, the US, and Chile performing his debut album, Freedom First, but does so from his cell at the Ohio State Penitentiary, where he has spent 30 years in solitary confinement on death row for a crime he testifies that he did not commit.
Produced by Catalan pianist Albert Marquès, Freedom First (2022) is the first album to be released by an inmate on death row. The record is a collaboration between international jazz musicians playing new compositions and LaMar, who recites poetry live via phone and video.
It is jazz that has kept LaMar intellectually stimulated in prison. “John Coltrane saved my life,” LaMar has said. “Had it not been for A Love Supreme, I’m sure I would have lost myself. I listened to it every day, and it rewired something in me, changed the circuitry of my brain and opened me up in a way that allowed me to view things (most especially myself) through a broader lens. I needed that, to free my mind, in order to keep living and breathing.”
At the same time, jazz has kept LaMar connected to an ever-growing group of supporters who, through music, advocate for him to be granted a new trial to prove his innocence before his scheduled execution by the State of Ohio.
More info on Keith Lamar's case can be found on LaMar’s website.
Profits from this performance will be donated to Justice for Keith LaMar, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to repairing the damage done by wrongful conviction.
$25, CMA members $22