Darden Smith is a singer-songwriter based in Austin whose thirty-year career redefines what it means to be a musician. In addition to fifteen critically acclaimed albums, Smith continues to break new ground using the craft of songwriting in education, entrepreneurship, and in service to others as the founder and creative director of SongwritingWith:Soldiers, a nonprofit program that pairs award-winning songwriters with veterans and service members to craft their stories about combat and the return home into songs. Rooted in the songwriting traditions of his home state of Texas, he is described by All Music Guide as "a singer-songwriter blessed with an uncommon degree of intelligence, depth, and compassion."
"SongwritingWith:Soldiers has shown me the world from a different angle. To recognize all that I have to be grateful for and to know that others hurt in ways we can't imagine. I've witnessed how songs can change a life, even save a life. Over the years, they've certainly saved mine.
Smith will accept the prestigious Community Grant this year at SXSW on behalf of the project, which is just one of the many places he's taken his gift and passion for songwriting. He served as Artist-In-Residence at Oklahoma State University's Institute for Creativity and Innovation and the Riata School of Entrepreneurship, he leads songwriting workshops in the US and the UK, and works with major companies using songwriting to inspire creativity and collaboration within the traditional work environment. He also contributes to The Huffington Post, most recently with an article entitled "I'm Done with Cynicism".
"The collective yelling of politics, the news, social media - we're stuck in a digital traffic jam where nothing changes and the volume just gets louder. Never has the need for human kindness, compassion for strangers, and speaking up for love been higher. The best tool I've got is music, it's what I can do to reach out to others."His observations led him to begin the process of creating EVERYTHING."I started digging through songs I'd written over the last five years, on my own and with people like Matraca Berg, Radney Foster, James House, Jay Clementi, and Bruce Robison. I kept writing. I reached out to Stewart Lerman, who co-produced six records with me, starting in 1996 with DEEP FANTASTIC BLUE. We started with thirty songs and narrowed it down to twelve. I put together a group of some of my favorite musicians and friends - Roscoe Beck (bass), Michael Ramos (keyboards), J.J. Johnson (drums), Charlie Sexton (guitar), and David Mansfield (mandolin, pedal steel and strings) - and we gathered in late August 2016 for three days of recording at Arlyn Studios in Austin, Texas. James House, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Bonnie Bishop, Kelly Willis, and Bruce Robison sang harmony.
" A personal milestone was also part of his motivation. "I crossed the mid-century mark several years ago. I don't see things the way I did before. More than ever I believe in love, hope, faith and gratitude. It's a view that only comes with time. The stakes are different now, more urgent."When asked why he chose to make another album Darden says, "Because I have something to say, and somebody out there might need to hear it. I carried this question around for a few years. It took awhile, but I found the answer - EVERYTHING."
EVERYTHING will be released April 7th, 2017 on Compass Records.
3. Against the Grain
4. I Love You, Goodbye
6. Love Will Win the War
7. Soul Searching
8. Me Too
10. Can You See the Moon