Songwriting with Soldiers

Songwriting with Soldiers

Fri, 10/25/2019 - 10:00pm - 11:00pm
Verteran Josh Geartz joins Mary Gauthier onstage for their song, “Still On the Ride.”

Credit: Courtesy of John Partipilo

Celebrate the power of music to salve the wounds of war for returning veterans and their families.

Songwriting With Soldiers, airing Friday, October 25 at 10:00 p.m. on WXXI-TV, is 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. It 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 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.

SW:S programs serve all branches of the military and are free to participants and their families and caregivers.

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.

About SongwritingWith:Soldiers
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, nontherapy, 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, "like" songwritingwithsoldiers on Facebook, and follow songwritingwithsoldiers on Instagram and @songwritingwith on Twitter.

This presentation is part of WXXI’s Veterans Connections initiative that is designed to help bridge military and veteran needs with community support and awareness.  Through special TV, radio and online programming, documentary films, group discussions, news features, and a comprehensive web site (, Veterans Connections works to create a community platform to raise awareness and connect veterans with valuable resources.