Lincoln entertainer Josh Hoyer and band perform at Nebraska State Penitentiary

Lincoln entertainer Josh Hoyer and band perform at Nebraska State Penitentiary

JoANNE YOUNG Lincoln Journal Star
Aug 27, 2019 Updated Aug 28, 2019


Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal took a couple of turns at the Nebraska State Penitentiary on Tuesday, entertaining prisoners inside the walls for more than an hour and a half. 

The early-afternoon performances in an inside yard started at 1:10 p.m. for about 40 minutes and the second set at 2:10 p.m. for about an hour. 

Hoyer estimated about 300 men saw the show, and seemed to enjoy it. 

"It was really intense, to be honest," Hoyer said later Tuesday. "We met a lot of really nice people in here. ... Good people who were trying to change their lives. Some real positive conversations." 

His band is known for raucous funk and smooth soul — music for the people, by the people, according to its flyers. 

Hoyer did a 2017 stint on "The Voice," turning the chairs of Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton in blind auditions with his rendition of "Oh Girl," by the Chi-Lites, and spending a short time on Team Blake.

Hoyer said a lot of the band's music has hope, self-confidence and encouragement to be a good person at the heart of it. 

At the prison, he said, the band played songs such as Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," which was requested, "Dirty World," "The Evening Train," and "Blood and Bone," about community and trying to do the right thing by the people you're with. 

"It was really interesting to sing those songs to an audience made up of prisoners," Hoyer said. "I kept saying this is an honor for us to play to our brothers on the inside." 

It was the band's first time to play at a prison — or even be inside a prison — and it was moving, he said. 

"This is a great opportunity for our population to get out and do something different," said Nebraska State Penitentiary spokeswoman Allyson Bennett. "We’re always looking for positive experiences like this to engage the population." 

The performances they bring in are "very well attended," according to Warden Michele Wilhelm.