Texas Exoneree Helps Open Music School


Five years after Texas exoneree Johnnie Lindsey was exonerated through DNA testing, he is putting some of his compensation money towards opening a music school. Lindsey, who served more than 25 in Texas prisons for a rape he did not commit, found comfort in music when he was behind bars.


Lindsey told the

Dallas Morning News

that despite being locked up, he managed to create some very happy memories for himself. “My most joyous moment was singing with the guys in prison,” Lindsey said. “We had our individual parts, and when we came together, it made my heart thump because it was so beautiful. And I was a part of this beauty.”


Once he was freed, Lindsey kept his love for music alive by purchasing a George Steck piano with some of his compensation money. After a year of tinkering, he drove from his home in Dallas to Metroplex Piano in Lake Highlands for a proper lesson. After meeting his teacher, Debbie Beach, Lindsey was in awe of her talent and dedicated himself to try to play as well. Over time, Beach shared her dream of opening a music school of her own and Lindsey offered to buy the keyboards needed for group lessons.


“My whole time in the penitentiary, I just wanted to get out and do one thing, and if I could do that one thing, my life has been well worth the struggle,” Lindsey said to

Dallas News

. “I wanted to make a difference. If we all felt that way, to make a difference in somebody’s life, this would be a much better world.”


Now 61, Lindsey has relied on music as a comfort since he was a young boy. When he was trying to prove his innocence and his appeals were denied, Lindsey recalls sitting alone his cell and singing amid tears.


“At that point, music became real crucial to me because I could wake up in the morning and even though I was in a distasteful situation, I had my songs, I had my music, I had my radio on, and it would pep me up,” Lindsey told the

Dallas News

. “I fed off the music. It was like my saving grace.”


Beach Music School at the First Christian Church in Duncanville, Texas, is slowly getting off the ground thanks to Lindsey’s donation. Beach says her new friend will always be welcome for lessons.


“To me, music is just like air,” he said. “We need oxygen to breathe; I need music to survive.”


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Learn more about Lindsey


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