Twelve active duty military service members and their guests will take part in an opportunity to share their stories with professional songwriters during the SongwritingWith:Soldiers retreat at the Cedarbrake Renewal Center in Belton, Texas on April 26-28.
Austin-based songwriter and program creator Darden Smith, along with songwriters Jay Clementi, Darrell Scott and Gary Nicholson, will be paired with military members to create songs based on their combat experience and its effect on them since returning home. All participants will be considered co-writers of their songs and will be registered with ASCAP. The Bob Woodruff Foundation, The ASCAP Foundation, Lockheed Martin, Veterans United Foundation, The Mayerson Foundation and the Charleston Center for Photography have joined SongwritingWith:Soldiers to provide stress relief for returning U.S. service members of Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from Post Traumatic Stress.
“My passion for songwriting has often landed me in unexpected terrain,” says Smith. “Songwriting with U.S. soldiers who have returned from combat is certainly one of the most unusual – and rewarding – career turns I never ever imagined. Now, we have several past retreat participants who’ve asked to help out, including some who were reluctant to attend last time. I can’t think of a better endorsement.”
In recent years, Smith established Be An Artist, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to sponsoring projects that bring arts and creativity into educational settings. SongwritingWith:Soldiers emerged out of this program and continues to expand its reach.
“As the number of military suicides rises — up to 22 per day — we are more determined than ever to reach more service men and women with our program,” says SongwritingWith:Soldiers Executive Director Mary Judd. “One of our goals is to develop materials to help replicate the program on a broad scale. We have seen the healing effects. More service men and women need this opportunity. More songwriters need this opportunity, too.”
Additional veterans in attendance will include award-winning combat photographers Andy Dunaway and Stacy Pearsall (recently honored as a White House Champion of Change), and combat veteran and videographer James Monk with Mercy Lamp Productions. For more information, visit songwritingwithsoldiers.com.
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About the AuthorJessica Nicholson is a staff writer with MusicRow Enterprises. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine, TasteofCountry.com and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]
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