New music director named at SongwritingWith:Soldiers

Julia LeDoux
August 31, 2020 - 1:31 pm
Clementi

Jake Herrie

Non-profit SongwritingWith:Soldiers has a new music director.

Jay Clementi, the organization's longtime program collaborator and songwriter has been tapped to fill the newly created position.

 "I have been writing with SW:S since 2012 and proud to be a lead songwriter for the past two years," said Clementi. "It's truly an honor to take my commitment to the organization to the next level as music director.”

SW:S was co-founded in 2012 by Program Director Mary Judd and Creative Director Darden Smith, who will step down from his executive role and continue as a board member participating in  weekend retreats and workshops that pair veterans with professional songwriters to craft songs about combat and the transition home.

SW:S serves all branches of the military and its programs are free.

"As we approach the 10th anniversary of our first retreat in 2022, this is an important milestone for the organization. It's been a privilege to work with Darden," said executive director Kristin Starling."It takes a wise individual to recognize that he has achieved the vision he hoped for as co-founder, and Darden's ongoing support as an ambassador ensures his ongoing commitment to the SW:S mission."

Songwriting With Soldiers highlights vets’ musical abilities

In response to COVID-19, hundreds of veterans and their families have participated in SW:S online community events, including online songwriting sessions, 10 live streaming concerts, and more than 30 online creativity and wellness community sessions.

Over the past year, the organization has prepared for the transition by solidifying the training of songwriters who have a long history with the program. 

"There’s nothing I love more than turning a story into a song, and to collaborate with active-duty military, veterans, and their families is a great honor and a gift," said Smith, a songwriter and musician based in Austin, Texas.

Clementi has deep connections to SW:S and the Nashville community where its main office is located.

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“I have been writing with SW:S since 2012 and proud to be a lead songwriter for the past two years," he said. "It's truly an honor to take my commitment to the organization to the next level as music director.”

Music brought Clementi to Nashville, where he teamed with artist/writer Radney Foster on five Foster records. They also worked together singing harmony on Willie Nelson’s Grammy-nominated album The Songs Of Cindy Walker. Clementi was the lead singer of The Lucky Bucks signed by Warner Brothers Records and produced by Paul Worley in 2006. Since 2008, Clementi has been a full-time songwriter/producer on staff first with Warner Chappell and now Sony ATV in Nashville. He had a Billboard #1 with Luke Bryan’s “Move” in 2017 and has had songs recorded by Dierks Bentley, Sara Evans, Martina McBride, Darius Rucker, Sunny Sweeney, The Josh Abbott Band, CB30 and a song featured on the hit show Nashville, totaling over 5 million records sold.  

Since 2012 SW:S has held nearly 50 weekend retreats and almost 100 collaborative songwriting sessions for more than 1,000 veterans, service members, and their families, and produced over 500 songs to date. 

Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com

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