Nashville Songwriters Write Song For Charleston

Posted at 9:53 PM, Jun 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-18 00:15:41-04

Nashville songwriters have shared a song written to honor those lost in the shooting at a Charleston church one year ago.

What do you do when faced with something so tragic there are no words? If you're a Grammy award-winning couple like Dony and Reba Rambo McGuire, you write music instead.

"The first thought is what can we do to help," said Dony.

Like everyone else they watched the news in horror: nine people dead at a bible study in Charleston exactly one year ago Friday.

"You want to give healing, you want to give hope, you want to be a balm on that open wound," Reba said.

That's how the chords to "Mother Emmanuel" took form.

"I don't think we've ever cried as much as we did writing a song as with Mother Emmanuel," Reba said.

They wrote it to honor the congregation, they said. They wrote it to help people heal.

"In the midst of that tragedy they were the first ones to say 'we forgive you' and that probably affected us more than anything," said Dony.

And they wrote it just in case someone struggling with the same demons as the gunman were to listen.

"Maybe I'm a dreamer but I believe music can change peoples hearts," Reba said, "and maybe if someone is contemplating something could listen maybe it would be just enough."

Gospel legend Shirley Caeser will sing the song, which is also on her album, at the Emmanuel AME Church Saturday.

Because in the times when there are no words, the McGuires find them and put them to music.

The couple wrote the song along with Chip Davis, who is currently touring with Alabama.

Reba said this particular tragedy touched her because her family received death threats in the 1960s when her mother, Dottie Rambo, won a Grammy for an album recorded with an African American choir in the throes of the Civil Rights Era.

The trio is currently working on a song inspired by the recent massacre in Orlando.