Artist coming to Roper Ballroom goes beyond making music

In music, as in all walks of life, there are people who don’t just want to make a living. They want to make a difference in people’s lives.

Darden Smith is one of those people. Besides being an outstanding singer/songwriter since 1986 with 10 records that are as good as the work of fellow singer/songwriters Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen, Smith is involved in the Be An Artist Program for kids and the song “Angel Flight,” which honors those who serve in the military.

The Be An Artist Program was started by Smith in 2003 “to encourage students of every age to see themselves as creative — and to use that creativity to do whatever they love to do,” Smith says on his website, http://www.dardensmith.com.

“Imagine you’re 12 years old again. You’re not thinking about what you’ll do when you grow up ... You probably prefer to spend your time skateboarding or drawing pictures or playing video games.

“And one day somebody walks into your school and tells you, ‘all those things you love to do now — you can find a way to do them the rest of your life! You’re creative, you’re unstoppable and you can do anything you want to do.’

“Many of us didn’t hear that message much when we were growing up, and a lot of students don’t hear it enough today, either,” Smith says on the site.

“Angel Flight” came about from a visit Smith made to a U.S. military hospital in Germany and discovered how much he had in common with the servicemen and women there, according to http://www.dardensmith.com.

Back in the United States, Smith “wanted to find a way to work with soldiers through songwriting” and contacted the Texas National Guard in Austin, the website says.

“I heard about military Angel Flight missions — the flights that pilots volunteer to fly to return the bodies of soldier who die overseas in combat — I knew the song was in there,” Smith says on the site.

He wrote the song with the help of singer/songwriter Radney Foster, and “we both knew it was special when we wrote it, but we had no idea what a powerful effect it would have,” Smith says on the site.

Foster recorded “Angel Flight” on his album “Revival, ” which hit No. 1 on the Texas Music Chart.

The story and song are moving, after playing the song in a commemoration ceremony in France, “the wife of a World War II veteran grabbed my arm to tell me, ‘I heard that song on the radio in the United States and I got chills,’ ” Smith says on the site.

“I had a hard time keeping it together myself this summer when the National Guard gave me a medal to honor the song, especially when a soldier who had just returned from Iraq said, ‘We listen to it over there, man, and you don’t know what it means to us,’ ” Smith says on the site.

“Since ‘Angel Flight,’ I’ve started working with soldiers who have returned from service in Iraq and Afghanistan, to help tell their stories through songwriting. I’m incredibly proud to be working with the members of the military who serve our country,” Smith says.

Smith will make an in-store appearance at Triple Play Records at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 2, before performing at the Roper Ballroom at 7:30 p.m.

Don’t miss your chance to see him.

# # #

Rock Cesario owns Triple Play Records, 530 Main St., and hosts “Acoustic Sunday” from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday on Drive 105.3 FM. E-mail him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).



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