Darden Smith talks about songwriting’s ability to heal
By Tricia Despres For Sun-Times Media November 8, 2013 6:39PM
Musician Darden Smith
Darden Smith with
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Schubas, 3159 N. Southport
Updated: December 10, 2013 6:07AM
It’s a conflict countless politicians and peacemakers have attempted to solve for years. Yet, on this particular day somewhere along the streets of Germany, acclaimed singer/songwriter Darden Smith started to make some progress on the local level.
“I was with a group of Israeli Christians and Israeli Jews and Palestinians from the West Bank, and I got them to write a song together,” he says simply from his Austin, Texas home. “They would argue and fight … unless they were writing songs.”
And from this revelation came the inspiration for Smith to transform his 28-year career of writing songs and making records into something much more. He launched The Be an Artist program in 2003 and SongwritingWith program in 2011, which allowed Smith — “on the edge of being bored” — to work with people to use songs to help “dig deeper into their life.” This concept took the greatest hold with his latest venture — SongwritingWith: Soldiers — a program he founded to connect returning United States service members struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.
“This program has allowed us the opportunity to turn dark and traumatic situations into songs with melodies and words,” explains Smith, whose Saturday set at Schubas will include tracks from his newest release “Love Calling,” including “Angel Flight.” inspired by Texas Air National Guard soldiers he met five years ago.
“Songwriting has a way of disguising the process of looking inward. There is nothing more powerful that feeling yourself finally being heard,” he says. “This program was all about using my skill and craft to take the words of these servicemen and women and turn them into a song. Everyone hits a place in their life where they find themselves in some sort of crisis. That’s when you find out who has been truly listening.”