Nashville artist Claire Frederick will perform songs at Summit this year written by inmates.
Frederick is a singer/songwriter who is also a MDiv student at Lipscomb University. Last year she taught a songwriting course at the Tennessee Prison for Women.
Christopher Hutson, the associate dean of the college of Biblical Studies, got to know Frederick when she preached at First Christian Church in Abilene in 2013. At the time, she was a children’s minister at the Woodmont Hills Church of Christ in Nashville and was considering offering that songwriting course. Hutson was intrigued and stayed in touch with Frederick over the past two years while she taught the inmates. He recommended her to the Summit leadership team this year.
“We tend to dismiss people in prison as enemies of society,” Hutson said. “But when you hear these songs you see real people like us, relying on the same God.”
Frederick’s songwriting course was a part of a program in which prison inmates can take university courses while behind bars. The program, called the Lipscomb Initiative for Education (LIFE) offers courses for both inmates and regular students. The inmates wrote songs about their identities and faith.
Hutson said Frederick used her connections to the Nashville music industry to bring musicians to work with the inmates. Together they were able to put the songs to music and record them. Since the inmates cannot leave prison, it is Frederick who performs their songs.
“Claire is giving a voice to the songs of those women,” Hutson said. “She is their mouthpiece.”
Judy Siburt, wife of the late Dr. Charles Siburt and volunteer on the Summit leadership team, said she hopes Frederick’s message will resonate with students.
“Students are interested in justice,” Siburt said.
David Wray, interim director of Summit this year, said Frederick will be a good role model for students because she’s in touch with the heart of the gospel.
Hutson encouraged both students and Summit attendees to come to Frederick’s session and concert.
“[These women] show what faith means when it’s stripped to its barest essentials,” Hutson said.
Frederick will be leading a session Monday from 9-9:45 a.m. as well as performing a concert that evening from 8:30-9:30 p.m. at Chapel on the Hill.