News Story

In June 1988, Anthony Ray Hinton was convicted of two murders he did not commit, in one of the most shockingly cynical miscarriages of justice in US history. He spent the next 28 years on Death Row, before all charges were dropped and he was released.

On Sat 23 Mar, Vox Holloway presents The Sun Does Shine, a powerful new musical work by Harvey Brough, with words by Justin Butcher, inspired by Hinton’s own autobiography.

With final rehearsals underway, Harvey and soloists Wills Morgan (Anthony Ray Hinton) and Christina Gill (Hinton’s mother) discuss the importance of this powerful performance.

Why does the story of The Sun Does Shine still resonate today, for you and the audience?

Harvey: Anthony Ray was released in 2015, so this is shockingly recent and not a story of the distant past. Even more shocking is the fact that only weeks ago, Kenneth Smith was executed in the very same prison - Holman Correctional Facility. Although we don’t have the death sentence in the UK, there are many prisoners held in this country who are innocent and unable to prove that.

Wills: It's a true story, and it's told by an ordinary American with an extraordinary voice. Given the public inquiries into things like Covid, Grenfell and the Post Office, it’s an innocent man having to deal with an unjust punishment. Anthony Ray reminds us that prisoners are people, irrespective of their guilt or innocence.

Christina: The themes of injustice, friendship, love, hope, and commitment to achieving what appears to be impossible are things we all relate to in our own way. The story also resonates with me personally, as it happens in a world that I was born into - 1980s America. So much appeared to have changed since the civil rights movement, but beneath the surface, every day, black people in America were (and still are) ruled by a system that only values their lives when it is convenient.

What’s in store for audiences on the night?

Harvey: You can expect an absolute commitment from 140 performers to telling the story of this amazing man, Anthony Ray Hinton. Both the performers and audience are taken through the highs and lows of his long fight to prove his innocence.

Christina: Feel good music and an inspirational story. You’ll leave with much to talk about and in touch with the parts of life that are truly important.

And finally, what are you personally most looking forward to?

Christina: I can’t wait to share this amazingly inspiring story with the audience.

Wills: Yes – it’s a great moment when all the instrumental and singing forces come together before they meet the collective audience voice on the night.

Harvey: As we all know, Anthony Ray was eventually released, but after witnessing his incredible achievement in dealing with nearly 28 years of unjust incarceration, the moment when he sees the Alabama sky for the first time is absolutely overwhelming.