By: Wisam Daifi

How do you express your feelings? Do you talk to someone? Write them down? How about putting it in a song?

Lost Voices is a Michigan nonprofit that conducts music writing and performing workshops with incarcerated and at-risk youth.

“Growing up are about choices, and sometimes young people make bad ones,” said Mike Ball, who founded Lost Voices. “We work with kids who are in trouble, most of them locked up, because of bad choices they have made. We help them learn how to express their feelings in ways other than the destructive patterns that have been their way of life.”

Lost Voices was born in 2006 when Ball, an author, syndicated humor columnist, and folk musician, started a creative writing class for the young men at the W. J. Maxey Boys Training School in Whitmore Lake.

With initial funding from the Michigan Humanities Council, Ball’s work quickly grew into a music-writing program in which the kids write the lyrics, and Ball, working in tandem with folk and blues musicians like White, Donohoe and Jones, collaborates with them to transform their thoughts into music.

“These are really talented children,” says Ball. “Granted, many of them have done bad things, or they wouldn’t be locked up. But they are still kids, and beneath it all they are not all that different from your kids or mine. I always find it pretty amazing how much they are willing to dig down into their deepest feelings, how much they are willing to reveal in their songs.”

When performing some of the songs written in the Lost Voices program Ball explains, “We can’t bring the kids out on stage for you to meet them, but we can do the next best thing – we can sing you their songs. Josh, Kitty and Robert and I have all worked on the front lines with the kids, and we all have songs from them that we are moved to perform.”

Click on the videos below to see Mike Ball and Peter Madcat Ruth performing in the Street Beat studio.

Information for this article was taken from the Lost Voices press release


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