The holidays can be a tough time for anyone, but for those who are incarcerated, the winter season holds the extra sting of forced isolation from family and friends. This year, a new program called "Freedom Through Music," featuring internationally renowned violinist Heather Hardy, attempts to bring a bit of holiday cheer to those "on the inside," with a musical tour of California prisons.

"These performances will be a combination of music and conversation on the subject of music and freedom," says Hardy, star of Lil' Mama Blues band, which recently returned to the U.S. after several performances in France. "Music is the real universal language. I will play many styles of music, including jazz, blues, funk, spiritual, Indian music, and more. I will also talk about the connection between music and finding outer and inner freedom and discuss techniques I have developed and have been taught about using music to help you to get into your own soul. I will perform a lot-and just try to bring love and hope to these inmates."

Hardy's musical prison tour is sponsored by the Amity Foundation, a non-profit corporation dedicated to rehabilitating and restoring personal dignity to the lives of substance abusers, including addicted mothers and their children, homeless substance abusers, victims of violence, children at high risk of becoming addicted, criminal gang members, and incarcerated substance abusers. More information about the Amity program and, specifically, the programs for the incarcerated is available at

"My hopes are that this can open some of the wardens' eyes, as to the importance of offering music as another hope and direction for the inmates when they are released, as well as to help them grow while the are still locked up," Hardy says.

"Freedom Through Music" performed:

December 10th, 2003
Soledad State Prison
Salinas, Calif.

December 11th, 2003
Los Angeles, Calif.

December 12th, 2003
1) Ironwood State Prison
2) Chuckawalla State Prison
Blythe, Calif.

December 13th, 2003
R.J Donovan Correctional Facility
San Diego, Calif.