ARTICLE: Darby Ledbetter "I Won't Let My Guard Down"

Darby Ledbetter is no stranger to taking chances; he is a National Guardsman with prior service in the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy and presently preparing to head back to Iraq for his fifth combat tour. Darby is also gearing up to release his first album as a Country artist with the release of his single “I Won’t Let My Guard Down”; a song written by a Soldier—for all Soldiers.

Ledbetter is a Warrant Officer with the Tennessee National Guard and wrote the song to honor the men and women who proudly serve their nation as Citizen–Soldiers. His soulful music tells the compelling story of these Soldiers, their Families and the commitment they make at home and abroad.

In the middle of a national promotional campaign for his song, “I Won’t Let My Guard Down,” Darby was once again called upon to serve his country. Rather than abandon his dream of being a Country singer, Darby accepted the challenge as a soldier, recognizing a noble opportunity to do what most musicians never get the chance to do: put their money where their mouth is.

On the afternoon of January 22nd, members of the marketing media for the National Guard, main stream media representatives, music industry executives, artists, and songwriters all gathered during a private invitation event in one place for a common purpose; to let Darby share what can be done when Americans share a vision and share the work. Special guests included members of the National Guard; from Washington, Colonel Dones and Major Wagner who were the backbone leading up to the event at BMI and Captain Britt, head of the marketing division and in house marketing material for the National Guard. Jessica Boyle Sr. Account Executive of LM&O Advertising from Washington and country artists Aaron Tippin, The Roys, Lane Brody and Ty Williams were also on hand to show support.

Clay Bradley, BMI Writer/Publisher Relations, welcomed the distinguished guests who gathered to honor Ledbetter and view the touching video for “I Won’t Let My Guard Down.” Bradley also presented Ledbetter with a leather BMI journal, stating, “I know you are going to go overseas, you can stack that in your backpack to keep all those ideas for your next album.”

Jeff Teague, President of A & R reiterated the welcome and added, “There is an old slogan here in Music City, “it all begins with a song” and that is exactly what happened when Darby Ledbetter drifted into our office.” After hearing his music and his story, the idea was born to approach the National Guard about Darby being a personal and musical ambassador for the National Guard, which soon led to a series of talks and visits from people from the pentagon. Another union was forged between Darby and the National Guard Bureau in Washington DC that does the marketing on a national level, which resulted in a nationwide theater campaign that featuring the song called “I Won’t Let My Guard Down.”

Teague continued to say, “As this blossomed, Darby was planning to release his music in the full CD form when a piece of paper arrived telling him that he is about to deploy to go overseas again. The man who has been singing, performing and delivering the message “I Won’t Let My Guard Down,” has been called to put his rear end where his lyrics are.”

Hank Adam Locklin, Sr. Manager of Membership and Industry Relations for the Country Music Association thanked Ledbetter for his selflessness and defending our country and presented him with several gifts from the CMA after asking him to sign his CMA membership agreement.

Jeff Walker President/CEO Aristo Media represented Mark Woods, Director of Operation Troop Aid. Woods spent 21 years in service and retired as a Navy officer in June 2008; since then, he has devoted his life to Operation Troop Aid. Reading from a letter Woods sent to Darby, “though I am not in the war zone anymore, I am fighting every day to raise money to send the much needed and truly needed care packages to you and the troops. Since I started OTA a few years ago, I have been blessed to have sent just about 700,000 in care packages. It gives me great pleasure to announce that in honor of you Darby and your deployment, I will be sending $5,000 worth of care packages to you and your unit. In addition, in your name, we will be sending another $5,000 worth to Pat Tillman’s unit for a total of $10,000 worth. I will be putting these packages together February 26th at the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville with many of the country music colleagues helping prepare these care packages”.

Ledbetter presently is in Mississippi with the 278th ACR and members of the Tennessee National Guard preparing to go on his next deployment. 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment (278th ACR) is a regiment of the Tennessee Army National Guard with headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee. Although termed a regiment, it is currently organized as a heavy brigade combat team. Later on this week, they are unveiling a monument for the fallen soldiers. At the reception at BMI, Ledbetter dedicated and sang a song entitled “It’s Just Me” to the families and those soldiers.

For more information on Darby Ledbetter visit or


Anonymous said...

Darby Ledbetter ROCKS!

Mary Nicole said...

woah, my husband is over there with a country singer. I knew he was ARNG but i didnt know he was 278th...