NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Oct. 21, 2019) – PBS will present SONGWRITING WITH SOLDIERS, a powerful one-hour concert special featuring veterans, service members, and award-winning songwriters coming together for a night of music illustrating military veterans’ experiences. The program, airing Friday, October 25, 2019, at 10:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings), was filmed in August at Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
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The concert features musicians performing original songs written with service veterans through SongwritingWith: Soldiers (SW:S), a nonprofit organization co-founded in 2012 by program director Mary Judd and creative director Darden Smith. SW:S is dedicated to transforming lives through weekend retreats and workshops that pair veterans with professional songwriters to craft songs about combat and the transition home. Songwriters performing on the special include Bonnie Bishop, Gary Burr, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Radney Foster, Mary Gauthier, James House, Will Kimbrough, Georgia Middleman, Gary Nicholson, Maia Sharp, and Darden Smith.
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SW:S programs serve all branches of the military and are free to participants and their families and caregivers.
“As we approach 2022—which will mark the 10th anniversary of our first retreat—it is a privilege to have such an important lens focused on the work of SW:S,” said Kristin Starling, executive director. “It would be hard to find a stronger expression of the power of art to transform lives. We hope this concert will help build bridges between military and civilian populations, and we are encouraging supporters to host viewing parties to help raise awareness and understanding.”
Since 9/11, the U.S. has been at war longer than any time in its history. Only one percent of the U.S. population serves in the military, and many veterans find the transition back to civilian life after service difficult. The Veterans Administration estimates that approximately 20 veterans take their own lives each day. SW:S programs offer a safe space where authenticity and creativity are nurtured in an environment of acceptance, storytelling, and connection to promote wellness for veterans, their families, and their caregivers.
SW:S has held close to 50 weekend retreats for some 530 veterans, service members and their families, and produced over 400 songs to date. Songs are professionally recorded and participants are registered as co-writers with ASCAP. All songs can be streamed for free. An album of music written in the program, Rifles and Rosary Beads, released by artist Mary Gauthier, was nominated for a GRAMMY Award last year.
This collaboration of SongwritingWith:Soldiers, PBS and WCTE Upper Cumberland PBS is produced by Todd Jarrell Productions and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) with additional underwriting from Sweetwater Music Instruments & Pro Audio.