Nashville Songwriters Help Families Of Chattanooga Shooting Victims

Posted at 9:40 PM, Jul 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-12 23:59:25-04

As the one year anniversary of the Chattanooga shooting attack approached, some Nashville songwriters provided comfort for victims' families through music.

The non-profit organization Operation Song started in 2012, and paired songwriters with retired and active duty service members so they could share their stories in a therapeutic setting.  The program was expanded to include family members of the victims of the Chattanooga attack.

“I think at the end of it, it’s cathartic,” said Bob Regan, Founder and Director of Operation Song. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see how these songs affect the people we write them for, and others who hear them.”

Songwriter Don Goodman worked with family members on the songs.  He said initially they may be hesitant to open up and share their feelings, but in the end it becomes very emotional.

“I think what they are doing with us is their way of letting go,” said Goodman. “Pretty soon they are bringing me spiral notebooks full of notes. It’s all coming out and they can’t stop.”

“We start with input from them on every line,” added Regan. “We are not trying to write a song for them. We are trying to tell their story.”

Goodman worked with Lorri Wyatt, who lost her husband Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, in the attack. He also worked with Lt. Commander Tim White, the Navy officer who fired a sidearm in defense during the attack. At the end of the process, participants leave with a recorded version of their song.

All four songs written with people connected to the Chattanooga attack will be performed at the Nightfall Concert Series Friday in Chattanooga. Click here, for more information.

“The families want this to be a 'thank you' to a city which has shown them so much support,” said Regan. “We are honored to have these songs be part of it.”

Several events were planned for Saturday to mark the one year anniversary of the attack including an interfaith service, a concert, art exhibits and a quiet moment of reflection.

For more information on Operation Song’s programs, click here.