For Give a Beat, music is ‘a tool for healing and opportunity’

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“I think music is this tool that can do things that no other medium that I'm aware of can do,” says Lauren Segal of Give a Beat. “It brings people together. It breaks down barriers.” Photo by Peter Merts.

Give a Beat is an LA-based nonprofit whose mission is to “use the power of music as a pathway to healing and opportunity for those impacted by the criminal justice system.” Since their founding in 2014, they have been training current and formerly incarcerated people in music engineering and production, and even DJing. 

Give a Beat Co-founder Lauren Segal says, “In our program, there's healing aspects like self-expression, creative expression, breaking down barriers between different groups. And then of course, opportunity. There's real skills. We're teaching DJing and music production that can lead to real jobs … for folks who are currently incarcerated and are going to be released or formerly incarcerated.”

One of their programs, On a New Track, focuses on eight recently released people who get one-on-one training with teaching artists, community mentors, professional producers and DJs. 

“We have an amazing example of this woman, her name is Geri, she had been incarcerated for many years, and she hadn't worked with these types of technical computer programs before. And she just stuck with it. And we just really helped along. … That's one of the messages we want to get out here is that folks who are coming out of prison have already been through hell. … All we have to do is just be there, be supportive, help remove barriers, and just help people help navigate the system,” says Segal.

Geri Free, who went through Give a Beat’s program, just put out her first record on their label, Give a Beat Records. Photo by Emily Rifkin.