The Empowering Song approach was originally developed in Massachusetts prisons by André de Quadros, Emily Howe, and Jamie Hillman to create an artistic interdisciplinarity that, while rooted in music, stretches into different arts areas. This approach which traverses improvisation and storytelling through poetry, songwriting, visual arts, movement, and theatre, has been used in multiple choral settings and missions, including community choruses, reconciliation and peace-building projects, mental health programs, and displacement contexts.
Emily Howe is an ethnomusicologist, music educator, and conductor based in Boston. In 2012, Emily started co-teaching in Boston University's Prison Education Program, where she has worked to develop interdisciplinary pedagogical strategies that empower incarcerated people to explore their creative potential. She currently teaches at Curry College in Boston. Bobby Iacoviello is a formerly incarcerated person who participated in the Empowering Song course through the Boston University Prison Education Program.