Civil War Songs and Stories is scheduled for broadcast at 7 p.m. on both May 18 and 27. The program is produced by the award-winning multimedia team at the Renaissance Center, in Dickson, which has partnered with NPT to develop a series of documentaries marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. This one-hour special highlights the stories behind the songs and the emotional impact music had on soldiers and families before, during and after the conflict. Actor David Keith, a native Tennessean, narrates the documentary.
From pride and patriotism to death and defeat, the documentary describes how music was as much a part of Army life as a musket. The narrative explains how both sides were accompanied by professional regimental brass bands mustered to preserve morale. The music inspired soldiers and consoled them. It brought memories from home and gave hope to what would soon seem to be hopeless circumstances.
The program features modern interpretive performances by such artists as the legendary Crystal Gayle and American Idol sensation Bo Bice, Country Music Star William Lee Golden, of the Oak Ridge Boys, and Jimmy Fortune, of the Statler Brothers, bring elements from two of the most famous quartets in history for a unique musical event with the singing of "Dixie" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic." They are joined by bass singer, Tim Duncan, Chris Golden (William Lee's son) and Jimmy Fulbright. Other artists include Irish Folk Singer Maura O’Connell, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, Jason Ringenberg (of Jason and the Scorchers and Farmer Jason) Don and Katie King, Les Kerr and the Bayou Band, Elizabeth Foster, and the Princely Players.
"Fundamental to understanding the Civil War era are its many musical legacies, whether the plaintive singing of slaves on the Memphis wharfs, the brass bands of the soldiers, the rousing tunes sung in family parlors or the uplifting voices of promise," said Dr. Carroll Van West, director of MTSU Center for Historic Preservation and Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and co-chair of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. "Civil War Songs and Stories captures those sounds and memories from the Civil War era."
Sharing their expertise in the documentary are Dr. Reavis Mitchell, dean of humanities and behavioral social sciences at Fisk University, Dr. Dale Cockrell, director of the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University, author of more than 70 books or articles, and also professor of musicology at Vanderbilt University, and Dr. Crystal DeGregory, an historian with degrees from both Fisk and Vanderbilt University.
For more information on the documentary, please visit www.wnpt.net. For more information on Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial events, please visit tncivilwar150.com.