Gibson and Charlie Daniels send guitars to US troops in Iraq

Country music superstar Charlie Daniels was in the news over the Thanksgiving weekend for his work with Operation Heartstrings, an effort to provide music for US military personnel overseas. On a trip to visit and entertain the troops earlier this year, Daniels found many service members who played or enjoyed music, but were hampered by the scarcity of resources available to them, or their inability or unwillingness to bring their personal instruments along to Iraq or Afghanistan. Through the generosity of a number of American companies, musical instruments, CDs, DVDs, laptop computers and CD/DVD players have been donated and distributed to men and women in uniform to help them ease the loneliness and isolation that service away from home can bring.

Our friends at Gibson donated 100 Epiphone guitars for this effort, and we have a photo (below) of Charlie Daniels with Gibson CEO Henry Juskiewicz and Major General Gus Hartgett of the TN National Guard as the guitars were being loaded for delivery to service men and women abroad.

Many of our readers recognize Charlie Daniels from his multiple hits on country and pop radio, but many not realize that not only does he have deep roots in bluegrass music, but had also released a bluegrass gospel CD earlier this year, entitled Songs From The Longleaf Pines. The CD features some riveting performances from bluegrass legends like Earl Scruggs and Mac Wiseman, along with members of The Del McCoury Band.

Charlie includes some gospel favorites like How Great Thou Art and bluegrass gospel classics like Walkin’ In Jerusalem, Working On a Building and The Old Crossroads. His vocal delivery is more familiar Charlie Daniels – a mix of singing and recitation – than typical bluegrass, but his passion for the music and his sincerity in the message is inescapable. Produced by Scott Rouse, whose recent credits include stellar work on Blue Highway’s Marbletown, the Daniels CD is sonically stellar and the arrangements are clever and engaging.

If you have a Charlie Daniels fan on your Christmas list, this CD might provide a perfect introduction to bluegrass music. There don’t appear to be any audio samples available on the Charlie Daniels web site, but we did find some here.

We had an opportunity to discuss both the genesis of Operation Heartstrings and his love for bluegrass music with Charlie Daniels last week, and this interview will be available later this week on The GrassCast – our weekly audio podcast.

If you – or your company – would like to support Operation Heartstrings, you can make a donation via the Stars For Stripes web site.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.