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IMG 7280"I learned at a very early age that two things and two things alone protect America from those who seek to destroy it - the grace of Almighty God and the United States Military". Charlie Daniels... ‪#‎Godspeed‬ ‪#‎freedomisnotfree‬ ‪#‎blankcheck‬ The Charlie Daniels Band

Charlie Daniels' manager shares soldiers' stories

B9317917451Z.1 20150701154814 000 G1TB81VT1.1-0By Beverly Keel - The Tennessean

After spending more than 25 years managing music legend Charlie Daniels, perhaps it's no surprise that artist manager David Corlew discovered that he's an artist in his own right.

Like Daniels, Corlew is a master storyteller. But instead of using a blazing fiddle and poignant lyrics, Corlew captures reality through a camera lens.

Although he has created several music videos, his inspiration — and primary subject of his work — is American soldiers. He created a documentary called "The Journey Home: A Soldier's Story" that airs occasionally on GAC and a companion DVD to "Charlie Daniels Band Live in Iraq."

The Nashville native has traveled to Iraq seven times and Afghanistan twice, and visited several other combat zones. He's made numerous videos of varying lengths on soldiers at home and abroad, often those who have been scarred physically and emotionally by war.

He is currently completing a four-year project on a highly decorated Marine who suffered a massive head injury in combat yet found the strength to enroll in Lipscomb University. Corlew proudly filmed his college graduation in May.

"Everything that I learned about the military I learned from being with Charlie," says Corlew, who keeps his watch set on military time. "Working with Charlie prepared me to do what I do now. I look at him with deep-seeded gratitude because he allows me time to pursue these other things that I love.

"What I learned from Charlie was to get it right and to tell the truth," Corlew says. "I have gotten better only because I have become pliable or softer. I have gotten better because I've gotten more comfortable with being in the presence of pain. For some reason, I am drawn to that; it is a comfortable place for me."

However, he hasn't become immune to another's pain.

"It never gets any easier. I cry through 90 percent of the projects. I don't know if there has ever been a day where I haven't looked at footage that at one point I had to stop and wipe my eyes. I thought at some point I might get harder to it, but it only makes me softer, more empathetic."

In 2004, Corlew traveled to Iraq for the first time with Daniels. Without any photography knowledge, he bought a Panasonic DVX-100 camera online and spent the next two weeks filming soldiers and concerts and traveling on Blackhawk helicopters.

"The first I knew about David's genuine interest in documentary films was a few years ago when he brought along a camera on one of our Iraq tours and shot a start-to-finish record of the trip," says Daniels. "When I saw the finished product, I knew he had a definite knack for shooting and editing film, putting it together in such a way to make it informative, entertaining and historical. It's a special talent."

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