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Musician Puts Co-op Story Into Song

August 11, 2015

Musician and singer-songwriter Darden Smith shined a light on the power of electric cooperatives coming together at the TEC 75th Annual Meeting in Austin, Aug. 2–5, when he listened to the cooperative story and put it into song.

"I think everyone has a story," said Smith, the Texas musician and founder of SongwritingWith: Soldiers program, through which musicians and soldiers collaborate to write meaningful and inspirational lyrics based on stories of combat and returning home. "I'm in a unique position to help them turn it into a song."

As he does with soldiers, Smith started the collaborative songwriting process with co-ops by asking, "Who are you? Why are you here? What are you doing?"

"The answer to these questions, I don't think is the most important," Smith said. It's that you are asking, for the stronger and deeper the conversation, the stronger and deeper the power you have, he explained.

Smith strummed his guitar while listening to answers shouted out from the audience, made up of some the conference's 830 registrants. He zeroed in on key components of the co-op story, turning phrases into lyrics that reflect how electricity lightened the load for rural Americans.

The session culminated in Smith singing the co-op song with the authors in the room, who sang along with the chorus:

Shine a light, shine a light

Shine a light, shine a light

Let's all come together

Look at all that we can do

Let's all come together

Let the power and the light shine through

To smiles, applause and laughter, Smith concluded the performance and encouraged audience members to continue collaborating with their communities to make a difference.

"When you go home, have a conversation," Smith said. "Get involved. Be all you are. Bring that to your community. Change the world."

Co-ops with registrants at the TEC 75th Annual Meeting will be mailed a CD with the professionally recorded song. A video of Smith's session during the annual meeting is available at https://youtu.be/G15MU6uzf84.