Saturday, March 23, 2013

"Be Like Abigail (Ode to Abigal Smith Adams)"

Whether biblical or historical, some of my favorite songs to write are songs I research.  In 1979, while singing on Nantucket Island, I took it upon myself to visit to the whaling museum to research a song I was working on. My song, eventually entitled Hard to Leave the Island, is chock full of Nantucket Island history set to music. In 1980, some of the faculty of USF in Ft. Myers, Florida who used to come listen to me sing and play my guitar at a fabulous out-door venue asked me to write a song about Sanibel Island. Having spent time on Sanibel (and Captiva), it was my pleasure to dig in and put its history to music simply called Sanibel Island. The Sanibel Island Chamber of Commerce contracted the song from me as "on-hold-music" for their telephone system until Hurricane Andrew almost wiped the island off the map. Thirty years later (2010), I was inspired when, at a Donelson Hermitage Chamber of Commerce luncheon, the Tennesse Dept of Tourist Development showed a video about their "Trails" initative highlighting a "get off the interstates and travel the backroads of Tennessee." Hence, I felt compelled to write Trails of Tennessee. I could hardly scratch the words and melody out quickly enough. I think Trails of Tennessee is my favorite of all my "place" songs, probably because I live here and love here - my husband grew up in Donelson and I married him here. I never could really get the hang of  "country" music. While I grew up listening to all kinds of music and made a living playing it for many years, I just couldn't believe life is all heart break and betrayal. I certainly don't want to sing about this. I always knew there something more... and I was right! His name is Jesus!
Recently, I was invited by my Fort Nashborough Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) to write a song for The American Heritage Committee. The theme is: Invest in the Future - Creating Family Heirlooms. I chose to write a song about Abigail Smith Adams, "Be Like Abigal." Abigail Adams was reared in a Christian home in Braintree (now Quincy) Massachusetts. She taught herself to read and write in a day when women were regarded as not needing formal education. Abigail was not just a generation ahead of her time, but centuries ahead of her time. She taught herself French and Latin and then taught her children. She wrote letters daily, leaving more than 2,ooo of them, now in historical archives, for us to read. The articulate correspondence between Abigail and her husband, John, is a legendary love story. I could go on and on.....and do in my song.


I believe I captured the musical essence of the Revolutionary War era using my 12-string guitar, the bass, fiddle and mandolin of studio musician Jason Roller, the simple snare drum sounds of Paul Scholten, and my vocal track. Lyrically, I captured Abigail's sacrificial love and service to our country and support of her husband, our first vice - president and second President of the United States, John Adams, and mother of our sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams. I demoed the song at County Q Studio here in Nashville and will share it at the next DAR luncheon.  I believe Abigail would love her song. President John Adams would be delighted and son John Q. would be pleased! I'll supply a link to the song later this month.