"The Soldier's Song" Returns to Columbia State

Performance Free and Open to the Public Oct. 19

 historical photo

(COLUMBIA, Tenn. – Oct. 7, 2015) - - - The songs, words and images of the American Civil War will be pondered and celebrated Oct. 19, as Columbia State Community College’s Lyceum Committee presents the return of “The Soldier’s Song,” a multi-media reader’s theatre musical. The performance begins at 7 p.m. in the Cherry Theater.

“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 Nov. 3, 2011. Since then, the moving production has been presented on several professional and college stages throughout the South, including The Old State House Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Johnson said the script was written to tell the story of the music of the Civil War in a historically accurate and entertaining way, incorporating both the music of the era and songs which were written by him and Newton. The music accompaniment will be played live, using the type of instruments that were available during the Civil War era, including guitars, mandolins, banjos, fiddles, and harmonicas.

The script 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 the Confederate prison camp, Camp Sumter in Andersonville, GA.

“Wood and I are very excited that we again will have the opportunity to present our tribute to the music of Civil War at Columbia State,” 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 that tragic story in American history to life for our students and community.”

“We believe it will touch those who attend in a profound way. It certainly impacted us when we researched the material and wrote the script and music,” Johnson continued.

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 Johnson, who will portray Landon, and Newton, the cast of the show will also feature several Nashville professional musicians, including, Jim Sales, who wrote the country music hit parody “She Thinks I Steal Cars;” Laura McGhee, a rising Nashville singer, songwriter and musician who is originally from Scotland; 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 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 email him at djohnson74@columbiastate.edu.

The Lyceum Committee is a cultural affairs committee that serves the students, faculty, staff and citizens interested in the arts in our community by presenting lectures, musical concerts, dramatic presentations and book chats. All Lyceum events are open to the public and free to attend.

 Photo of man

Photo caption: Daniel Johnson

 Photo of Wood Newton

Photo Caption: Wood Newton

 Photo of Sam Watkins

Photo Caption: Sam Watkins


Columbia State is a two-year college, serving a nine-county area in southern Middle Tennessee with locations in Columbia, Franklin, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg and Clifton. As Tennessee’s first community college, Columbia State is committed to increasing access and enhancing diversity at all five campuses. Columbia State is a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, one of the largest higher education systems in the nation. For more information, please visit www.columbiastate.edu.

Tennessee’s Community Colleges is a system of 13 colleges offering a high-quality, affordable, convenient and personal education to prepare students to achieve their educational and career goals in two years or less. We offer associate degree and certificate programs, workforce development programs and transfer pathways to four-year degrees. For more information, please visit us online at tncommunitycolleges.org

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