‘Love Lives On’ Album Tells Military Families’ Stories Through Country Voices
Country music has long held ties to military servicemembers and their families. With Love Lives On, a compilation album featuring several of the genre's big names, the tradition continues in a way that honors soldiers who died in combat, and the ones they left behind.
Love Lives On debuted on Friday (May 22), via Roots and American Music Society, a non-profit label. All proceeds from the record benefit the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), a foundation that supports families who have lost loved ones in combat and paired family members with musical co-writers to tell their stories. Produced by Frank Myers and Jimmy Nichols and featuring Vince Gill, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lonestar, Pam Tillis and more, the album's 10 tracks chronicle personal tales for the first time.
The title track, which came out in March, was the first song written for the project. Co-penned with TAPS founder Bonnie Carroll, about her late husband, the tune's promising message brings home the intent of the project.
“We knew that this was going to be the catalyst for the whole thing. We knew that this song was gonna be bigger than all of us," Nichols shared at a press event for the album. "We wanted this song to be a musical event. Frank and I immediately started saying we should try to see how much of the music community would come in and be a part of this."
The producers recruited an all-star backing band to join the recordings, too: Toto’s David Hungate, famed session guitarist and producer Dann Huff, David Pack of Ambrosia and Vinnie Colaiuta were among the guests.
“Everybody that was affiliated with this project said, ‘When and where?’ They didn’t even question it,” Nichols adds.
Other tracks include the spiritual “Climb to Glory,” the deeply personal “Press on Preston” and the straightforward “People Need to Know.” While each song is specific to a family, they're all also universal: They'll speak to anyone who’s been through a similar experience, and they touch on many different aspects of military life.
While the stories themselves are tragic, there’s something uplifting about preserving the legacy of those who made the ultimate sacrifice and providing catharsis through music for those closest to them.
“[It] has just been such a blessing to get to watch this thing grow from this concept that we all had of just simply honoring our heroes. I don’t just mean the heroes that have passed, [but also] the heroes that live on in their memory, that have to carry the weight and burden of life without them,” Nichols says. “To find a way to create closure through this music, because we always know that music is the healing source.”
Before TAPS was established, there was little support for military families who experienced loss. “Once a soldier passes away, that’s kind of it. There’s not a lot out there to support the family afterwards," Lonestar's Richie McDonald shares, "so this really helps with that -- emotionally, financially and everything."
TAPS has provided tangible assistance to so many people, and in addition to raising money to help more families, Love Lives On brings awareness to the unseen grief and healing process thousands of people face each year. As TAPS provides for those who need, the album offers a semblance of hope to all who listen.
“For all of us whose loved ones’ names are carved into marble, we may think they were incredibly irrepressibly full of life, and if they are not immortal, what of the rest of us?" Carroll says. “They are immortal because they live in the words and the deeds of all of us.”
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