Darden Smith is a master at making collaborative songwriting a safe place for personal expression and making creativity accessible and desirable. A singer-songwriter, arts entrepreneur and founder of the SongwritingWith Soldiers Program, his 30-year career as a musician includes fourteen critically acclaimed albums, TV appearances on Austin City Limits, The Tonight Show, and countless concerts and shows. Along with touring in the US and Europe, he was the 2011-2013 Artist-in-Residence at Oklahoma State University’s Institute for Creativity and Innovation.
After Smith and Radney Foster wrote “Angel Flight” in 2009, a song about bringing dead service members home, Smith was approached by LifeQuest Transitions, a nonprofit group that helps wounded soldiers adapt to civilian life, about hosting a retreat for soldiers in Colorado. In 2010 he began working with veterans and soldiers, and it went so well that he started SongwritingWith Soldiers.
Founded in 2012 by Smith and Mary Judd, SongwritingWith Soldiers organizes weekend retreats during which professional songwriters are paired with veterans and active duty service members who share stories about their experiences of combat and the return home. Working collaboratively, the musicians and soldiers turn those stories into songs. SongwritingWith Soldiers has held 40+ retreats at locations including Texas, New York, Virginia, Colorado, Arizona, Tennessee, and California.