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Croatian-born star performs holiday concert for LCF

by admin last modified Jul 07, 2015 01:27 PM
The spirit of Christmas brought Croatia and Lansing Correctional Facility – two worlds that couldn’t be further apart – together for one special night Wednesday, December 4, 2013.

Internationally renowned performer Tajci brought a message of love and redemption to the inmates of Lansing Correctional Facility (LCF), performing holiday and spiritual songs and sharing her personal story with 112 maximum-custody inmates, some of whom may never celebrate Christmas outside the prison walls. 

Tajci (pronounced Ty-chi) said she relished sharing with the men of the facility her own message of spiritual bondage. It was not her first time inside a prison. Tajci has performed at other correctional facilities around the nation, and she said she can relate to their “yearning for freedom, from the opposite side of the spectrum.”

A native of Croatia, Tajci began performing as a child and became an international celebrity as a teenager. However, the early success in her career proved stifling and overwhelming, leaving her stuck in a brand that
wasn’t satisfying her as a person, an artist, or allowing personal growth.

“I experienced life as a superstar in Croatia, but I found that status was robbing me of the freedom to be who I am,” said Tajci. “When I had everything, I was really searching for something deeper, to give me a larger purpose.”

Tajci left her career and moved to New York where she studied music and theatre and eventually found inspiration to write her own music expressing her journey and newfound faith.

Tajci said she is not intimidated by performing before large groups of men who have committed serious crimes in the past. She says she is able to believe there is good in every person.

“It’s an honor, and a gift to share my music with them,” she said. “My music is honest.  I don’t sing unless I can feel and deeply understand every word I am singing.  After one of my concerts, a young Marine told me how my style of music really wasn’t what he listened to, but that for some reason it didn’t matter.  He said that it was like my music bypassed his ears and went straight into his heart.  I believe that happens often.”

Tajci said she understands that the environment must be restrictive, allowing for little interaction with the inmates, but she said she has received letters of appreciation from previous prison performances, gestures she finds very rewarding. Her performance was certainly much appreciated at the Lansing facility.

“Her message was very special for these men, particularly at this time of year,” said Lansing Warden, Rex Pryor. “They really appreciate getting to share and reflect on their faith through an event like this.”

Pryor noted that the 112 maximum-custody inmates who attended represented more than 60 percent of the men who were eligible to attend.

Tajci said she knows her role in reaching out to inmates is singular. She said the real heroes are those who carry on the long-term work of helping the men in correctional facilities find new direction.

“I can’t show my appreciation enough for those people who work full-time helping these men,” she said. “I just hope in my small role I can come and be along the same path that they work in every day.”

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