In honor of their courage, service and sacrifice to defend our freedom, WNCN anchor Pam Saulsby is using her voice through song to personally salute our troops, veterans and military families.
Just in time for Veterans Day, Saulsby is set to release her new CD, “Holding It Down,” a compilation of original and cover music chosen to show appreciation for the men and women who fight for us – and the families who sacrifice on the home front.
“Singing was an opportunity to do more than wonder and research, and give them a pat on the back and say ‘thank you,’” Saulsby said. “It was an opportunity to really do something more.”
Sunday she will present the second of two performances showcasing songs from her CD in Fayetteville at the city’s third annual Heroes Homecoming celebration at North Carolina Veterans Park, the first state park dedicated to military veterans from all branches of the armed services.
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On Nov. 24, Saulsby will host a CD release party from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Fifteen at 317 W. Morgan Street in Raleigh. She will officially debut “Holding It Down,” and a new music video for “Welcome Home,” a track on the CD. Dubbing the gathering “Pam + Friends,” Saulsby will sing and invite a few others to share the stage.
Unlike her 2011 exit from television news and the year of struggle that preceded her arrival at NBC affiliate WNCN last year, her music project is all unfolding exactly as she’d planned.
“I brought all of me to this project,” said Saulsby, 55. “I want it to be heard, and I want to be heard, too, when it comes to questions about the military and veterans and how they’re appreciated or are not appreciated.”
Because her career always required her to stay mum on most issues, Saulsby added, “And I want to say what I want to say without getting into trouble. The truth is the truth; fact is fact.”
Saulsby was born in Fort Benning, Ga., and her dad, Frank Saulsby, got out of the Army shortly after she was born. It was right on the cusp of the Vietnam War, complete with talk of a draft “playing in the background,” she said.
“Seared in my mind are images of the Vietnam War because it was clear and present in my life growing up,” Saulsby said, recalling images from television news as the battles played out.
“I saw the fear, the fight, the courage, the blood; it was all there, and it had a hold on me. I saw young men from my neighborhood come back from the war, and … they didn’t seem like the same guys they were before the war.”
“Holding It Down” is Saulsby’s sophomore album. Her 2010 release “The Full Measure of a Woman” featured jazz covers.
The “Holding It Down” project began before she left WRAL but stalled under the weight of shaky job prospects, dwindling finances, vanishing friendships, and the death of her brother and confidant, Harold.
“There were many learning curves, but it was going to get done. I knew that. It was the one constant,” said Saulsby, who also always hoped to debut the CD around a military holiday.
“Holding It Down” is a concept album featuring an eclectic mix of original music from Saulsby and other artists, as well as some covers – all chosen expressly to be dedicated to our troops and their families.
There’s a lullaby with Billy Joel’s 1993 “Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel),” a country-bluesy rendition of Chris Daughtry’s “Going Home,” and the rock favorite “White Rabbit,” a song Saulsby included, not so much for its message to troops but as for its familiarity to veterans. The Jefferson Airplane hit was popular during the Vietnam War and has been featured often in movies, most notably the Vietnam epic “Platoon.”
The CD’s title track, “Holding It Down,” is a pop tune written by Saulsby as a salute to military spouses, while “Welcome Home,” co-written by Saulsby, is an upbeat ballad that reminisces about the small comforts of home. And there’s “Guardian Soldier,” a hip-hop rap song. No fainting, Saulsby said. She turned the pen and mic over to Johnston County’s Chris Harlan. Saulsby sings the hook.
“Guardian Soldier” is one of Wayne Daniels’ favorites. Daniels met Saulsby through their mutual interest in advocating for veterans on home soil.
“It’s really neat how she’s able to connect,” said Daniels, a former Marine. “I can’t wait for the album to be ready to be downloaded. She does awesome work for our troops and veterans – and she’s got one heck of a voice.”
“When something is this important to you and it didn’t come easy for you, to actually hear it and see it happen, it gives you a great sense of pride,” Saulsby said. “I’m really proud of it.”