Mark Collie‘s new album Alive At Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary was inspired by the singer and actor’s visits to Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary, which also inspired a documentary.


Collie recorded his live album at Brushy Mountain in Morgan County, Tennessee, 15 years ago, back in October 2001. The visit proved to be deeply affecting, with Collie witnessing the tragic goings on within what was once one of America’s largest maximum security prisons.

“There were a lot of young kids in there and some guys in there who doped, either dealing it or doing it. But, there were some guys in there who were mean,” Collie told uInterview in an exclusive interview. “We have to look into these dark places and try to shine some light, and we have to listen better and we probably have to teach better if we’re truly here to try to rehabilitate.”

In addition to doing his live album at Brushy Mountain, Collie wanted to make a documentary in which the inmates were shown actively making music with him. Some inmates were more into the concept than others.

“I tried to make sure that everybody was at ease, so they would talk. A lot of times I would share with inmates and they didn’t wanna be on camera and that was fine,” Collie explained. “Not everybody was glad to see me. Not everybody was willing to just take it for what it was, which was basically let’s sit down and share some music, stories and songs.”

Collie’s Brushy Mountain documentary ended up taking him 15 years to finish, but the entertainer believes that it was worth the wait. Music, according to Collie, offers a sense of freedom.

“Music for me as a kid could take me places. One thing about it is: everybody in their spirit has a song. You can’t keep that in a cage, you can’t chain that up,” Collie told uInterview. “The spirit of songs is freedom and I just felt like I was supposed to do this and it started out humbly, then it got big, then it got bigger and bigger.”

Alive At Brushy Mountain drops on Oct. 14; the documentary airs on Oct. 16.

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