Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Zach Williams on Friday released a special live EP, Survivor: Live From Harding Prison, on Provident Label Group. Produced in partnership with the local non-profit Men of Valor, the six-track live album was recorded earlier this summer at a Nashville prison, where Williams and his band performed an acoustic set of his recent hits, as well as a rendition of Bethel Music's "No Longer Slaves" to an audience comprised of 250 men currently incarcerated.
For Williams, who released his breakthrough album and the record-breaking single "Chain Breaker" in 2016, the concert is something he says he has been wanting to do for years.
"As a songwriter, seeing God use the songs I write and my experiences to show His grace to others is one of the biggest blessings I have ever received," Williams shares. "A little over five years ago, I visited a prison in Arkansas with my wife and shared the story of what God was doing in our lives."
"What I experienced that day is something I will never forget. God broke my heart for these men and women," he continues." They had, ultimately, just made bad decisions which is something that I completely related to, and for me, that experience gave a whole new meaning to the word 'grace.'"
He adds, "Ever since then, I have felt a calling to share my music and stories with men and women in prison in the hopes that lives can be changed by the power of the gospel. My prayer is to see chains broken and walls shattered. God has a plan for each and every one of our lives but we have to fully surrender to the Cross before those plans are revealed."
Each song featured on the project, "Survivor," "Old Church Choir," "To the Table," "No Longer Slaves," "Fear Is A Liar," and "Chain Breaker," was filmed, along with interviews of some of the inmates sharing their own personal testimonies. New video footage will be released weekly on Williams' official YouTube channel.
Men of Valor began in 1997 and works to reconcile incarcerated men with their families, to society, and to God, by providing aftercare and re-entry services 24/7. Through encouragement and support, the efforts aim to help the men become productive, responsible citizens who then become good husbands and fathers.
The ministry's Program Director, Curt Campbell, shares about Williams' concert, "There is a window of opportunity when a man or a woman is incarcerated to impact their lives in a way that can dramatically affect how they re-enter society. This is a growing segment of our society where the fields are truly ripe for harvest, but where the laborers are few."
"Thank you, Zach, and the rest of your crew, for acknowledging this need, embracing the opportunity, having a heart for these men and making a difference," he adds. "Like these men, I am greatly encouraged by those in society, mostly God's people, who have not 'thrown away the key' and forgotten them."
Williams concludes, "I want to say a special 'thank you' to the men of Harding Prison in Tennessee for being a part of this record. It was an honor and a privilege to share my heart with you. Thank you so much for allowing an outsider in. Through God, there is truly freedom behind bars. Through Him and only Him, we are survivors."
Click below to watch the title track and first video from Survivor: Live From Harding Prison, or click here to watch on YouTube: