(COLUMBIA, Tenn. – March 28, 2019) - - -The songs, words and images of the American Civil War will be explored April 2 as Columbia State Community College’s Lyceum Committee presents its third staging of “The Soldier’s Song,” a multi-media musical reader’s theater work in the Cherry Theater at 6:30 p.m.
“The Soldier’s Song” was written by Grammy Award-winning Nashville songwriter Wood Newton and Daniel L. Johnson, Columbia State associate professor of communications and professional songwriter.
Columbia State staged the first performance of the musical in 2011. Since then, the show has been presented on several college stages and prominent venues throughout the South, including the Old State House Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Johnson said that the script was written to tell the story of the music of the Civil War in a historically-accurate and engaging way, incorporating both the music of the era and songs which were written by him and Newton. The music accompaniment will be played using the types of instruments that were available during the Civil War era, including guitars, mandolins, banjos, fiddles and harmonicas.
The script also uses a combination of direct quotations from famous figures of the Civil War era and fictitious monologues by Sam Watkins and James Landon. Watkins, who was from Maury County, was a private in the Confederate army who wrote his famous memoir, “Co. Aytch,” after the war. Landon was a sergeant in the Union army who spent six long weeks in a Confederate prison camp, Camp Sumter, in Andersonville, Georgia.
“Wood and I are very excited that we have been given the opportunity to present our show on the Cherry Theater stage again,” Johnson said. “We believe that by using the voices of Sam Watkins and James Landon to tell the story of the Civil War and its music, it will bring the story to life. We believe it will touch those who attend in a profound way. It certainly touched us as we researched the material and wrote the script and music.”
Newton, who will portray Watkins, has won numerous awards as a member of the Nashville songwriting community and has written numerous hit songs, including Kenny Rogers’ “Twenty Years Ago;” The Oak Ridge Boys’ “Bobbie Sue;” Razzy Bailey’s “Midnight Hauler;” Steve Wariner’s “What I Didn’t Do;” and David Ball’s “Riding With Private Malone.”
Along with Newton and Johnson, who will portray Landon, the cast of the show will also feature several Nashville professional musicians and narrators, including Jim Sales, who wrote the country music hit parody “She Thinks I Steal Cars;” Odessa Settles, a well-known Civil War-era musical performer; and Alan O’Bryant, who is a member of the Grammy Award-winning group, The Nashville Bluegrass Band.The newest cast member, Gretchen Priest-May, is an extraordinary fiddle player who founded the Musical Heritage Center of Middle Tennessee in 2008.
The event is free and open to the public. The Cherry Theater is in the Waymon L. Hickman Building on the Columbia Campus, located at 1665 Hampshire Pike. For more information about The Soldier’s Song, contact Daniel Johnson at 615.480.4066, or by email at djohnson74@ColumbiaState.edu.