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Belmont Partners with Local Songwriting Organizations to Co-Write with Veterans

Three Nashville organizations recently partnered to host a day-long songwriting retreat for veterans at Belmont University’s Music Row campus.

Belmont and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (NaSHOF) co-sponsored the event led by Operation Song™, an organization that helps veterans and active-duty military tell their stories through the process of songwriting.

“We were excited to partner with NaSHOF and Belmont on this retreat,” says songwriter and Operation Song™ Founder/Director Bob Regan. “As we writers know, songwriting can be therapeutic – a very effective way to ‘put the puzzle pieces in place.’ Operation Song™ brings this creative process to veterans and service members to help them express themselves and to deal with the trauma of war and the transition to civilian life.”

The retreat teamed five professional songwriters from Operation Song™ and the Hall of Fame with Belmont students and five veterans who served in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Roxie Dean (“Why They Call It Falling” by Lee Ann Womack), Regie Hamm (“The Time Of My Life” by David Cook), Thom Schuyler (“Love Will Turn You Around” by Kenny Rogers) and George Teren (“Real Good Man” by Tim McGraw) joined Regan (“Thinkin’ About You” by Trisha Yearwood) as songwriting facilitators for each team.

“I had the great pleasure of writing a song with a veteran of the U.S. Navy (Joe) and a Belmont songwriting student (Luke),” says Hall of Fame member Schuyler, who participated as part of NaSHOF’s Wayland Holyfield Outreach.  “Joe arrived with a poignant song idea already fashioned into a promising lyric, and he was generous enough to share it with Luke and me.  It was gratifying to see the expression on Joe’s face as we all did our best to bring a part of his personal story to life in words and music.”

Though most Operation Song™ events feature teams of two, the teams for Feb. 26 were expanded to include students from Belmont’s songwriting degree program.

“We appreciate the opportunity for our songwriting students to be a part of this special songwriting event with Operation Song and the Hall of Fame,” says James Elliott, Chair of Belmont’s Songwriting Program.  “This is a unique opportunity for our students to help veterans express themselves in song and is sure to be a life-changing event for them.”

The teams spent the day talking and writing songs based on veteran experiences.  At the end of the day, teams gathered in the legendary Columbia A recording studio to reflect upon the experience and perform their newly created songs for each other in a large group setting.