Primetime special showcases the work of award-winning songwriters and military veterans in advance of Veterans Day
NASHVILLE – 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, Oct. 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).
The concert features musicians performing original songs written with service veterans through Songwriting With: 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.
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 Songwriting With: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.
SongwritingWith:Soldiers is an evidence-based program using collaborative songwriting as a catalyst for positive change. SW:S provides a safe space and neutral ground—nonmilitary, non therapy, nonpolitical. Through their songs and retreat activities, participants rediscover their strengths and creativity to reconnect with family, friends and communities with ongoing support. The songs are recorded and shared through CDs, concerts and social media in order to bridge the divide between military and civilian communities, and build awareness of the challenges faced by our returning service members. For more information about the SongwritingWith:Soldiers program and retreats, or to make a donation, visit www.SongwritingWith:Soldiers.org, “like” songwritingwithsoldiers on Facebook, and follow songwritingwithsoldiers on Instagramand @songwritingwith on Twitter.
WCTE has served the Upper Cumberland for more than 40 years as the region’s premier storyteller and is the only television station in a 75-mile radius of Cookeville, making it a strategic partner with education, health services, government, arts and music. WCTE is owned and operated by the Upper Cumberland Broadcast Council and is one of only 350 PBS affiliates nationwide. For more information, visit wcte.org, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television and related online services. For more information, visit cpb.org, follow us on Twitter @CPBmedia, Facebook and LinkedIn, and subscribe for other updates.
PBS, with more than 330 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 120 million people through television and 26 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’s broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’s premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV— including a 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps, and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook, or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBSPressroomonTwitter.