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Former Gov. Jack Markell debuts songwriting with single 'Charlottesville'

Art by John Mavroudis, courtesy of Moonalice

A former Delaware governor is trying his hand at a new skill — songwriting.  The first of his songs to be produced was released this week.

Former Gov. Jack Markell wrote the lyrics to the song “Charlottesville,” which dropped Wednesday on YouTube to mark the third anniversary of the violent Unite the Right rally in Virginia. 

Markell says he’s long been interested in poetry. He recently took up songwriting as an outlet for social commentary.

“I was frustrated, very angry frankly when Donald Trump said there were very fine people on both sides of the protest,” Markell said, referring to the Charlottesville rally. “I was totally moved when Heather Heyer, who was the woman killed in Charlottesville, she used to say, if you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. And I think there’s a lot of truth in that.”

But don’t look for Markell to pursue a songwriting career. 

“I’m still busy with a number of other things, but it’s something that I enjoy,” he said. “I do think music can be a powerful force for change, so if I can move the needle on that at all, then it’s worth it.”

The song “Charlottesville” was co-written by Amy McNamee, Jason Crosby, and Roger McNamee, and performed by members the Moonalice Family, the T Sisters, Dylan and Lester Chambers, Jason Crosby. 

Markell has another song coming out at the end of the month. He says it’s about a document key to civil rights history — and will be released in coordination with the March on Washington planned for Aug. 28.  

In addition to writing songs, the former governor is working with nonprofits includingREACH Riverside, serving on the board of Delaware State University and doing corporate consulting. 

Three years ago this month, Markell completed across-country bike ride tha raised about $120,000 for a group of Delaware nonprofits. 


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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