I am a musician, a playwright and a songwriter. Years ago, I read something in a local newspaper that would profoundly change my life. It was an article talking about 3 women who had lived during the American Civil War. One had been a daring spy, risking her life to smuggle information about rebel troop movements to the Union Army. She later wrote a memoir. Another young woman cut her hair, put on her brother's clothing, and masqueraded as a young man, joining the army to escape a marriage that her parents were keen on, but that she wanted no part of. She kept a war journal. The third woman was not a soldier. She was not a spy. She tried to keep herself and her family alive when her husband went away to fight. She kept a diary.
My name is Mary Wallace. Calhoun County is my home.
I read these accounts with interest, actually going back to the local library to read from the primary sources. I came back with my notes, set down at the kitchen table, and the song Diary of Mary Wallace almost magically fell from her own words onto the page.
I gathered wood and done the chores, getting ready to turn the ground. Turned Harrison's pigs from the cornfield, fixed the fences all around And I watched my young son run and play as the sun was going down. And the long war rages on.
This song became the basis of my first grant and public radio series Sampler of Michigan Pioneer Women. Twelve women, who left a diary, a memoir, a speech, a recollection, woven into four programs Making a Home, Making a Living, Making a Difference (women in education) and Making Changes (activists), winning a first place broadcasting award from American Women in Radio and Television. I also turned it into an hour long live performance. I had a theory that if I used the words of someone writing a personal journal during the Civil War, and wrote a song using their words and a melody influenced by something in that person's culture, I could spark the imagination of my audience. Being a dramatist, I took it a step further and decided to wear a period costume. As I am a woman, I decided to write only from the words of women. In my performance, I set up each of the women's worlds, telling a bit about who they were before presenting their song. I toured the heck out of that show, singing for women's groups, schools and universities, town centennials, historical societies, book clubs, libraries, arts and humanities councils, music halls, etc, etc, on and on. Out of this I gained a deep respect for using primary sources to compose my own projects. I learned to read a diary, imagining that if this person were alive today, what would they want me to say?
This led to the following projects:
Sampler of Michigan Pioneer Women: A four part series for Michigan Public Radio. Ballads written from primary sources as radio drama. Funded by grants from the Michigan Council for the Humanities and the Michigan Commerce Department. Awards: Best Radio Documentary: American Women in Radio and Television.
Sampler of Michigan Pioneer Women: 12 ballads written from diaries, speeches, and other writings of women who lived in Michigan 1790-1975.
We, the People Remember: pivotal cases in the development of civil liberties. A multi-media performance with curriculum guides designed for high schools. Funded by grants from the Michigan Council for the Humanities and the Michigan State Bar Foundation.
Runnin' for Freedom: 30 minute radio drama for Michigan Public Radio depicting the first legal case involving the underground railroad. Written by Elise Bryant, produced by Candace Corrigan and Gary Reid.
Great Lakes Chautauqua: funded by The Michigan Council for the Humanities and Michigan Council for the Arts, Ms. Corrigan produced this three act pageant, collected historical primary materials concerning the history of the Great Lakes, hired and worked with noted historians, musicians, actors and dancers and Ottawa drumming troop, resulting in a critically acclaimed eight city tour of the State of Michigan.
The Perfect 36: 30 minute radio drama based on primary resources depicting the last battle to win voting rights for American women. Awards: Best drama, American Women in Radio and Television, best drama American Women in Radio and Television, Best Radio Drama , Ohio state Media Awards.
How Southern Women Won the Vote DVD: 60 minute public television show about the last battle to win voting rights for American women. Originally funded by a grant from the Kellogg Foundation.
Talking to a Tennessee Moon CD: Ballads based on interviews of women living in a small Tennessee town. Principal musicians: Mark O'Connor, Jerry Douglas, Russ Barenburg, Mark Schatz, Kenny Malone, Produced by Waylon Patten.
Through a Woman's Voice 4 CD set
Through a Woman's Voice Performance: Hour long performance and multi-media presentation. Currently booking for 2008-2009. Contact here.
The Love I'm In CD: Twelve original songs written and performed by Candace Corrigan, accompanied by Nashville's finest in an eclectic array of musical styles. Produced by Pat Flynn . Buy it here:
The Nashville Nobody Knows presents The Nashville Dulcimer Quartet with David Schnaufer DVD: Video documentary of David Schnaufer and The Nashville Dulcimer Quartet. The program includes interview and live performance of this unusual and talented quartet, as well as historical background on the appalachian dulcimer. A must for any appalachian dulcimer enthusiast.
The Tennessee Music Blog: Weekly essay and free song posted on Candace Corrigan.com. Candace writes about being a songwriter and musician, living in Tennessee. Nothing to buy, nothing to do, just read, listen, and enjoy.
Finding Rutherford: 2009 Historical review of Rutherford County in three acts, presented in Murfreesboro TN as part of the Rutherford County Heritage Days. Working with the producer, Denise Carlton and the Rutherford County Center for the Arts, Ms. Corrigan collected historical documents, wrote the script, wrote ballads from historical documents, collected period music, and hired actors and musicians and crew. The program spanned the early settlement period to the 1950's golden age of country Music.
A Vote of Her Own: A short one act of music and dialog based on primary resources, celebrating the 90th anniversary of the winning of voting rights for American Women. Presented at the East Tennessee Historical Society's 2010 History Faire in Knoxville on August 7, the program was reprised for the Rutherford County Heritage Days in Murfreesboro, October 3rd, 2010. Ms. Corrigan wrote the script, did the research, hired the actors, musicians and chorus, and designed and constructed costumes. Ms. Corrigan has plans to reprise the program again at the Cumberland Gap National Forest History day in the summer of 2011.