From Nashville to Morristown: Don Henry and Alathea light up church

Don Henry has been writing great songs in Nashville for years. After playing some of them at a Morristown benefit show this month, he said there is no formula, no secret sauce.

Don Henry at benefit for a Morristown United Methodist Church mission trip. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Don Henry at benefit for Morristown United Methodist Church mission trip. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Sometimes he collaborates. (Where’ve You Been.) Sometimes he goes it alone. (Beautiful Fool.)  He may compose on guitar. Or banjo. Or piano.  Or on no instrument at all.

“That forces you to get away from the same chord changes,” he said, after his concert at the Morristown United Methodist Church, where he and the roots duo Alathea helped raise money for a mission trip to Appalachia.

The video clip above features Don singing If I Was Your Man.  He co-wrote it with Lauren Braddock, who provided the inspiration from a few lines she had penned as a 6-year-old.

Mandee Radford and Cristi Johnson Reilly of Alathea, at the Morristown United Methodist Church. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Mandee Radford and Cristi Johnson Reilly of Alathea, at the Morristown United Methodist Church. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Don was invited to Morristown by his friends Kristin and Bill Moran.

Kristin is a member of the church; Bill is a children’s book illustrator who impressed Don years ago at a songwriting seminar organized by Dave Kleiner of the Folk Project of North Jersey, the group behind the weekly Minstrel series in Morris Township.

Bill has been teaching himself guitar. Don, whose songs have been recorded by Kathy Mattea, the Oak Ridge Boys and the late Ray Charles, among others, described his pal as a natural tunesmith.

They planned to trade some ideas after the concert; we’ll let you know the result.

Songwriter Don Henry, center, was invited to Morristown by Kristin and Bill Moran. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Songwriter Don Henry, center, was invited to Morristown by Kristin and Bill Moran. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Video: Church mission volunteers join the chorus

Songwriter Don Henry is flanked by Cristi Johnson Reilly and Mandee Radford of Alathea. Photo by Kevin Coughlin.

Songwriter Don Henry is flanked by Cristi Johnson Reilly and Mandee Radford of Alathea. Photo by Kevin Coughlin.

And don’t be surprised if the show yields some interesting collaborations between Don and the upbeat Alathea.

Duo members Mandee Radford and Cristi Johnson Reilly met as college students a decade ago and honed their harmonies as neighbors in the mountains of Tennessee.

We thought Alathea might stick around for awhile– the ladies’ truck was acting up–but there is a good chance they will be back.

One of the songs they performed, I Still Carry You, is about the Appalachia Service Project, the organization that church members will be serving this summer in North Carolina.

Through that project, Alathea has performed a number of times in neighboring Randolph, at the Mt. Fern United Methodist Church.

Here is video of Alathea from the Morristown show:

Songwriter Don Henry chats with Mandee Radford and Cristi Johnson Reilly of Alathea, in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Songwriter Don Henry chats with Mandee Radford and Cristi Johnson Reilly of Alathea, in Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Mission group from the Morristown United Methodist Church sings with Don Henry. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Mission group from the Morristown United Methodist Church sings with Don Henry. Photo by Kevin Coughlin



Speak Your Mind

*