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Aussie icon, local muso hit high notes mentoring Hunter inmates


His name is forever linked to one of Australia’s biggest hits of the 1980s, I Was Only 19 (A Walk in the Light Green).

And, even now, the lead vocalist and guitarist for iconic folk band Redgum, John Schumann, continues to make an impact on other people’s lives.

The legendary musician, who wrote the anthemic tune which reached No 1 on the singles chart in 1983, joined Hunter Valley-based blues and roots star William Crighton to mentor inmates at the Cessnock Correctional Centre this week.

The pair is teaching them to tap into their musical talents and creativity.

But, it’s nothing new for Crighton.

The ARIA award-winning singer-songwriter has been visiting the local maximum-security prison for the past five years, where his famous experimental style and honest lyrics have proved a perfect fit for the inmates in his classes.

ARIA award-winning singer-songwriter William Crighton and legendary musician John Schumann at the Cessnock Correctional Centre.

Governor Brad Peebles said many of them were gifted musically and developing their skills was proving to be an instrumental part of their rehabilitation.

“Some of these offenders have never had the chance to cultivate their talents, whether that be playing instruments, songwriting or practicing their vocals,” he explained.

“However, when given the chance, they excel.

“Many inmates are very talented but unfortunately haven’t put their abilities to good use.

“This is our chance to redirect their energy and focus into something constructive and positive.

“To have such a talented performer helping inmates hone their skills means they learn a lot very quickly.

“Our hope is that they continue to turn to this creative outlet once released back into the community – more music, less crime.”

John Schumann and William Crighton mentor inmates at Cessnock Correctional Centre.

Crighton, who supported Midnight Oil on its final tour, said his prison program aimed to help inmates grow and express themselves through music and songwriting.

“Creating music has certainly been therapeutic for me in my life and I’m passionate about giving inmates the tools and confidence to cultivate this practice for themselves,” he stated.

“I’ve been in awe of what the men have been able to produce and how dedicated they’ve been in the classes, digging deep to share what’s raw and real for them, which is incredibly healing.

“To have someone like John involved, too, is great.

“He’s an Australian legend and someone I’ve always looked up to.

“So, it was terrific to have him at the prison to impart his knowledge on the inmates.

“I think it was very inspiring for all of us.”

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