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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

At Washington’s Blues Alley jazz singer Jane Monheit and her quartet perform songs made famous by Judy Garland. Monheit sits down with "Beyond Category" host Eric Felten to talk about her music, the singers who influence her, and her life traveling with family on tour.