August 14, 2012

Songwriting Retreat Gives Vets New Outlet for Stories of War

The ASCAP Foundation and Bob Woodruff Foundation Partner with U.S. Songwriter in Presenting Collaborative Program – Songwriting With: Soldiers

Darden Smith

Darden Smith

Belton, TX, August 14, 2012: Ten former military servicemen and women will have a unique opportunity to share their stories with professional songwriters during the Songwriting With: Soldiers retreat at the Cedarbrake Renewal Center in Belton, Texas, being held October 26 through 28, 2012. The Bob Woodruff Foundation and The ASCAP Foundation have joined Songwriting With: Soldiers to present the program, initiated with the goal of providing stress relief for returning U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and traumatic brain injuries.

Program creator and Austin-based songwriter Darden Smith, along with professional songwriters Radney Foster and Jay Clementi, will be paired with veterans in a retreat setting to write songs based on their combat experience and its effect on them since returning home. The private retreat center allows for an intimate event that fosters connections and the schedule includes time for personal relaxation. All participants will be considered co-writers of their songs and will be registered as such with ASCAP. This will ensure that, if applicable, they will share in any royalties stemming from the public performance of their work. The songs written during the retreat will be recorded on-site and distributed to the participants.

“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. To give voice to somebody who might not otherwise be able to describe those experiences is more gratifying than anything I’ve ever done.”

In recent years, Smith established Be An Artist, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to sponsoring projects that bring arts and creativity into educational settings. Songwriting With: Soldiers emerged out of this program.

“This is the start of a fantastic long-term project,” continued Smith. “Knowing that we are able to directly help these men and women by using songwriting to capture their story is a powerful and motivating thing. We want to work with as many veterans as possible so that these stories can be heard.”

Songwriting With: Soldiers is a creative means to cathartic healing,” said Bob Woodruff Foundation Executive Director Anne Marie Dougherty. “Our goal at the Bob Woodruff Foundation is to find programs that leave service members feeling both empowered and fulfilled, and we firmly believe that sharing their unique stories at this innovative retreat will do just that.”

ASCAP Foundation President Paul Williams - an Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe Award-winning songwriter and Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee - commented on the program and upcoming retreat: "Music has always been a great healer and the creative act of writing offers a unique and powerful outlet for the painful memories and hidden scars of warfare. There is no finer use of our talents than offering this natural therapy to the young servicemen and women who have given so much. Darden Smith, Radney Foster and Jay Clementi and the Songwriting With: Soldiers team deserve our thanks and support. Without doubt, some fine songs will result from the retreat and, more importantly, the chance to show our troops how much we care."

For more information about the Songwriting With: Soldiers program and retreat, visit

About Songwriting With: Soldiers
Songwriting With: Soldiers is a program created by Darden Smith that pairs professional songwriters with soldiers and veterans to write songs based on stories of combat and returning home. This unique process provides a lasting document of the veterans’ story, in song form, that they can have and share. Songwriting With: Soldiers is a part of Be An Artist, Inc., a non-profit organization that focuses on songwriting to bring arts and creativity into a variety of educational settings. Other programs sponsored by Be An Artist, Inc. include The Be An Artist Program, bringing creativity workshops based on songwriting to schools across the U.S. and Europe; Songwriting With: Covenant House, working within a shelter for homeless youth in Newark, N.J. to help the residents tell their stories through song; and Songwriting With: Africa, working within communities of Botswana and South Africa to help relate the effects of HIV and AIDS.

About the Bob Woodruff Foundation
Co-founded by award-winning ABC News reporter Bob Woodruff after he sustained serious injuries while covering the Iraq War in 2006; the Bob Woodruff Foundation is the national nonprofit that helps ensure our nation’s injured service members, veterans and their families return to a home front ready to support them. BWF provides resources and support to service members, veterans and their families to successfully reintegrate into their communities so they may thrive physically, psychologically, socially and economically. Across the country, the Bob Woodruff Foundation collaborates with organizations and experts to identify and solve issues related to the return of service members from combat to civilian life and invests in programs that connect our troops to the help they need - from individual needs like physical accommodations, job training, financial counseling, to larger social issues like homelessness and suicide. Through our charitable investment program, BWF seeks out innovative charitable programs that promote meaningful activity—education, employment, entrepreneurship, volunteering and community integration—for post-9/11 injured service members and their families. BWF is finding and funding organizations that build strong bodies and sound minds and have programs that bring a sense of hope and fulfillment into warrior’s lives.

The Bob Woodruff Foundation has invested $12 million in over 70 organizations, impacting more than 1,000,000 service members, support personnel, veterans and their families nationwide. For more information about the Bob Woodruff Foundation, please visit

About The ASCAP Foundation
Founded in 1975, The ASCAP Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education and talent development programs. Included in these are songwriting workshops, grants, scholarships, awards, recognition and community outreach programs for songwriters, composers and lyricists. The ASCAP Foundation is supported by contributions from ASCAP members and from music lovers throughout the United States.

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Andy Wilson
Bohlsen Group

Jessica Kiefer
Bohlsen Group
317.602.7137 ext. 2045

Tim Hayes

Ashley Bunce
Bob Woodruff Foundation