Meet the first Malawian musical group ever nominated for a Grammy.

It took this music group from Malawi an entire week to find out they'd been nominated for a 2016 Grammy award.

Why? It's hard to know what's going on in the outside world if you have little access to it, and well, all of the group's members are in prison.


All images via sixdegreesrecords/YouTube.

The group, called the Zomba Prison Project, has been nominated for the Best World Music Album.

The nomination is for their album "I Have No Everything Here," and it's the first time anyone from Malawi has been nominated in the Grammy Awards' 58 years, let alone from a maximum-security prison.

And despite the whole being-in-prison thing, it's pretty lucky how the nomination happened.

Music producer Ian Brennan deliberately set out to find voices that aren't well-represented in the music industry.

Brennan, a Grammy winner himself, has always had his pulse on world music. He knows that talent is everywhere, even in the places you'd least expect. The problem is accessing it.

"How can it be just that tens of thousands of 'artists' from cities like Los Angeles and London are given platforms, but entire countries are left voiceless globally?" Brennan asks on his website. "This mathematical absurdity of superiorness only mirrors society's greater inequities."

With the goal of closing that gap, Brennan and his wife set out to provide a platform to underrepresented voices. A prison in one of the world's poorest countries seemed like an interesting place to start.

"How can it be just that tens of thousands of 'artists' from cities like Los Angeles and London are given platforms, but entire countries are left voiceless globally?"

The couple were given access to the Zomba Prison in Malawi in exchange for offering classes on violence prevention to its inmates and guards, according to NBC News. There, Brennan was able to work with the musical talent living inside those prison walls everyday. And talent wasn't hard to find.

Brennan worked with around 60 inmates, who ranged in age from 22 to 70, helping them tell their own stories through music.

Over six hours of what Brennan calls field recordings, an album was born — mostly in the inmates' native Chichewa language.

You can hear one of the album's main songs, the heart-wrenchingly named "Please Don't Kill My Child," here:


With tracks like "I See the Whole World Dying of AIDS," "Don't Hate Me," "I Kill No More," "I Am Alone," and "Forgiveness," it's clear that the album gave the artists an opportunity to release a lot of their feelings.

And that's the point, Brennan says, describing music and art in general as "by far the most effective kind of social-work that exists."

It's giving them another kind of release, too. Proceeds from the album sales are helping certain prisoners to appeal their detention. So far, three of the women involved in the project have been released. That's major.

The album has been critically well-received all over the world, which emphasizes how important it is.

On National Public Radio, Betto Arcos called it "one of the most exciting projects I've heard."

There's a world of talent out there. It's important to make sure we're stepping outside our comfort zones to hear and appreciate music and stories from around the world, so whether it wins a Grammy in February or not, the album and its nomination is still a huge win.

You can hear more from the Zomba Prison Project in this short video:

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."