Rosanne Cash provides song-writing mentorship for military community

Rosanne Cash provides song-writing mentorship for military community
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 7:24 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Since November, singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash and local singer-songwriters have been teaming up with active-duty servicemembers and veterans to help write original music.

Using songwriting as a therapeutic tool, they have been working specifically with patients at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson’s Traumatic Brain Injuries Clinic, who have been battling the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

Although not affiliated with the military herself, Cash says the topic is something that hits close to home for her after undergoing brain surgery in 2007 for a rare condition.

According to a press release from the Anchorage Concert Association, Cash uses her lifelong love of music to help people heal. Over the past few months, Cash has been working as a virtual mentor during the songwriting process.

“She often shares the transformative power of music as medicine in her life through workshops and residencies while on tour,” a press release from the association said.

Art therapist Danielle Kalseth has been following the process since the beginning. Kalseth explained that the songs created cover a variety of different topics — some are specifically about deployments, while others touch on the feelings military members are having as they transition into the civilian world or losing a loved one.

Kalseth says each song is a healthy way for people to express their emotions.

“With songwriting, it gives us a tool to actually process our emotions and to be able to express ourself in ways that maybe we can’t just do by just speaking. Putting it to a melody and a song and writing out those lyrics can really help that emotional expression,” Kalseth said.

On top of being a safe and healthy place to express emotions, the event is providing a sense of connectedness for veterans and active duty servicemembers. Robert Gordon with the nonprofit group ConnectVets shared how it can be a struggle for military members and veterans to get out of the house, and that having somewhere to connect with others is critical — and connections can be critical.

“One of the big factors with veterans is not feeling alone, right? We got a saying — ‘I got your six’. It’s a military saying — I have your back basically,” Gordon said. “And that’s what music can do and performance and opportunities and events like this can and do is show veterans in our community that the community itself, the Anchorage Concert Association, ConnectVets, Cyrano’s Theatre, we have their back as well.”

The Anchorage Concert Association say they hope to create monthly gatherings where military members and veterans can come together to continue writing and sharing their songs.