News / Arts & Entertainment

'God Didn’t Choose Sides' - Civil War Songs About Real People

'God Didn’t Choose Sides - Civil War True Stories About Real People'
'God Didn’t Choose Sides - Civil War True Stories About Real People'
Katherine Cole
The American Civil War, with brutal fighting from 1861 to 1865, is known as the most deadly time in American history. It’s also known for its music, most famously the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” sung by people in the North, and “Dixie,” the best-known song of the South.  But, those aren’t the songs you’ll find on a recent Civil War collection called “God Didn’t Choose Sides.”  

Sam Passamano, II, head of the Rural Rhythm Records label, is a Civil War buff. When he got to work producing an album of songs inspired by the Civil War, he had something different in mind, something other than recording the traditional tunes of the era.
 
“The real people who were in the trenches. The men and women who were a major part of ‘The War Between The States.’" he said. "There are some amazing stories that need to be told about acts of kindness and brotherhood and faith and selflessness that this project really brings out and it’s a major part of what makes it special and unique.”

Such as the true life tale of John P. Parker, who was sold into slavery at the age of eight.

He learned to read and write and apprenticed as an iron worker. Parker would eventually buy his freedom, run his own iron foundry in the northern state of Ohio, and help other slaves escape from the South. Dave Adkins sings Parker’s story in “The River Man,” on “God Didn’t Choose Sides.”

Mark “Brink” Brinkman wrote “The River Man” with Paula Breedlove.  He was especially touched by Parker’s bravery and what he had to put up while helping others to freedom.

"There was a $1,000 bounty put on his head, but nobody knew what he looked like," he said. "In fact, we searched for pictures for this project and we found that there are no pictures of John Parker because he was so afraid of somebody killing him, if they knew what he looked like."

'God Didn’t Choose Sides' - Civil War Songs About Real People
'God Didn’t Choose Sides' - Civil War Songs About Real Peoplei
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Tim Stafford and Steve Gulley also contributed a song to “God Didn’t Choose Sides.” They wrote about Tod Carter, a lawyer who left his home in Franklin, Tennessee and followed his brother into the rebel, Confederate Army.  As Gulley sings, after three years of fighting the soldier found himself just a few miles from his old home, leading a charge toward the Union line.  

“And when we got to that line [in the song] when researching the documented proof of the story, we knew we had the title," Gulley said. "We just worked from there and kind of told his story. From growing up to ending up being mortally wounded in the battle of Franklin in his front yard.  And pulled inside by his family members, saying can we just bring him inside, in the house he was born in and in the bed he was born. It was a very poignant story. But also, I think, telling of the whole war in general. There was a lot of irony in the Civil War and I hope we drove that point home.”

In addition to 12 original songs and one cover of a gospel standard, “God Didn’t Choose Sides” includes a 16-page booklet with photographs and notes that tell the stories behind the songs.

Rural Rhythm Records has also set up a website for the album with additional information about the Civil War and the songwriters and performers on the project. One of them is Russell Moore, who tells through song the heartbreaking true story of a woman who learns she’s a widow when she sees a photo of her family in the newspaper. The caption explains the picture was found in the hands of a dead soldier. It’s called “A Picture of Three Children.”

You May Like

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures. For now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

Singer Leyla McCalla takes up not only the guitar, but the banjo and cello to perform songs from her new disc, “A Tribute to Langston Hughes,” music that mixes the Creole rhythms of Haiti with the French Quarter flavor of New Orleans on this edition of "The Hamilton Live."