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PIX11 on Juneteenth Jazz Jubilee: “Music on the Inside: ‘It gave me a second chance’”

By June 18, 2023August 29th, 2023No Comments

PIX11 reported from our Juneteenth Jazz Jubilee with Music on the Inside:

It was a Juneteenth Jazz jubilee like no other.

Formerly incarcerated men were up on the stage at the New York Society for Ethical Culture, showing everyone in the audience how music can change people’s lives.

One of them was Chontay Smith. He sounds and plays like a professional musician; instead, he hopes to inspire others to turn to music to turn their lives around.

The 48-year-old was serving 25 years in prison for a drug offense when he joined the Music on the Inside program.

“Music on the Inside means to be a person who is given a second chance, a second opportunity to be a different person,” Smith told PIX11 News.


“Mrs. Bloomgarden, who founded Jazz at Lincoln Center, had allowed me to work with phenomenal jazz musicians who become mentors for our program,” Mikell Grand, a life coach and mentor coordinator, told PIX11 News.

When Chontay finished his set, he wiped away tears in his eyes as he stood up from the piano to receive thunderous applause.

Read the full report here.

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