SongwritingWith:Soldiers Concert to be Aired on PBS

Elizabeth Dale

SongwritingWith:Soldiers (SW:S) recently held a concert at the War Memorial in Nashville, Tennessee. This event, featured songs written by service members and their families who have participated in retreats with the SongwritingWith:Soldiers program since its beginnings in 2012. The August 1 concert is slated to air on the Public Broadcast Station (PBS) across the United States on October 25, 2019.

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SW:S was conceptualized after singer-songwriter, Darden Smith, returned from a trip to a military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany where he performed for U.S. servicemembers. During the journey back to America, Smith was determined “to use the art of songwriting in the service of our brothers and sisters in arms” as a strategy to help those recovering from the lasting effects of combat in service to their nation. In October 2012, Smith then partnered with Mary Judd, a leading expert in communications and Positive Psychology/Educational Programming to form SW:S. The program encourages collaborative songwriting by pairing service members with professional musicians to share their experiences, often for the first time.


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With the mounting success of SW:S over the last seven years, the program was excited to host the concert and PBS filming at Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium. Mary Judd, co-founder of the organization, believes that "This performance shines a light on two important things -- the power of music to help us connect, and the need to listen to today’s veterans and military families. These are the war stories of our times and they have much to teach us.”

The concert which followed the programs model of pairing professional songwriters/musicians with veterans to help tell their stories include familiar names such as Bonnie Bishop, Gary Burr, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Radney Foster, Mary Gauthier, James House, Will House, Will Kimbrough, Georgia Middleman, Gary Nicholson, Maia Sharp and Darden Smith.

SW:S Executive Director, Kristin Starling, reflected on the event saying, "There is a ripple effect that occurs during and after a retreat when songs are shared. Connections are made. We hope this concert will amplify the ripple effect and with this also the courage and hope the songs represent."

To view the upcoming broadcast of the SW:S concert event tune in to PBS on October 25, 2019 at 10:00pm ET/9:00pm CT (check local listings). For more information on SongwritingWith:Soldiers, please visit