Celebrated singer-songwriter Jeffrey Steele, Creed vocalist and solo artist Scott Stapp and more were among those who took the stage at Operation Song’s first-ever gala in Nashville on Monday night (Dec. 5), honoring U.S. military veterans by telling their stories through music.
According to Operation Song’s website, the organization’s mission is “to empower veterans, active duty military and their families to tell their stories through the process of songwriting.” The organization pairs veterans with songwriters to try to give voice to some of their experiences, working with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Warriors Heart, the USO and more. They also share some of those songs at fundraising galas all over the country, with Monday night’s event marking their first large-scale gala in Music City to celebrate their tenth anniversary.
The Nashville gala is slated to be become an annual event after a successful evening that saw Steele — a longtime mainstay of the Nashville songwriting community — deliver a scorching version of “Stick That in Your Country Song,” which he wrote with Davis Naish. Eric Church released the song as the lead single from his Heart album in 2020.
Stapp’s set included an original song titled “Worthy,” which was inspired directly by his family members: Congressman Mike Waltz (R-FL), a Green Beret and Stapp’s brother-in-law, and sister-in-law Julia Nesheiwat, an American national security advisor and Army veteran.
Stapp closed his set with Creed’s “My Sacrifice” before addressing the audience of civilians, active-duty military, veterans and Gold Star families, saying, “Thank all of you for your sacrifice, not only the soldiers but the families. God bless you guys. And rock on!”
Bob Regan performed “Boocoo Dinky Dow,” a veteran’s story about his experiences in Vietnam. The song’s title draws on how GIs interpreted the French-Vietnamese phrase “beaucoup dien cai dau,” which translates to “very crazy.” The Operation Song founder, Grammy and Dove Award nominated songwriter and 11-time recipient of ASCAP’s Most Performed Song Award also hosted the evening, while SiriusXM’s Storme Warren, who is on the board of Operation Song, served as emcee.
“I am so honored to be a part of Operation Song, which really empowers veterans to tell their story through music,” Stapp says. “I know as a songwriter I’ve really found that music helps me release things I hold deep down inside, positive and negative, it’s so cathartic. And as cliché as that sounds, it’s such a powerful experience, to release things through music. It helps you let it go. I think Operation Song not only inspires our veterans to let things go but also share the positive, encouraging, powerful and courageous stories that our veterans have to help motivate others to serve their country and serve it with pride, honor and respect.”
Access music from Operation Song via the organization’s BandCamp page. For more information about Operation Song or to donate to their efforts, visit Operation Song’s official website.