Our mission is to change the conversation in our community, country and around the globe from the demoralizing and cynical to the hopeful and inspirational by featuring people of particular courage.  With music as the universal language, we are doing this one song at a time.

The original songs on this page tell the stories of the courageous who have performed an act of courage and suffered in the process or performed an act of inspiration born of tragedy whose actions contributed to significant, positive change. Some lived long ago; others are still with us today.

It is our hope that these songs, with strong, emotive and powerful messages, will inspire you to STEP UP! and make a difference in your community in the spirit of these amazing song subjects. In this way, Chords of Courage becomes a catalyst for social change.


Chords of Courage is proud to announce that its song “Marching Feet Can Make It Right” was a winner in the Great American Song Contest.

Congratulations to songwriter and Chords of Courage CEO, Caron Dale. You can hear the award winning song here.

“Marching Feet Can Make It Right” – about Congressman John Lewis

Music and lyrics by: accomplished songwriter Caron Dale with assistance from Joshua Marchand

12 year old Josh Marchand and Chords of Courage CEO and Founder Caron Dale share something special in common – their admiration of Congressman John Lewis. Since he represents all that Chords of Courage stands for, they decided to write a song about him. They were very honored to have met with the Congressman to hear his life story from his own lips. When Josh asked Representative Lewis what kind of song he’d write about his own life, he responded that it would be upbeat. With that in mind, the two set out to write an inspiring and hopeful song.

John Lewis was born the son of sharecroppers, was one of the 13 original Freedom Riders, became the youngest of the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement and coordinated students’ efforts to register black voters across the South. Lewis became nationally known during his prominent role in the Selma to Montgomery marches and exemplifies a true Chords of Courage hero.

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“Take A Chance” – about Cesar Chevaz

Music and lyrics by: 7th graders from the School without Walls Middle School, Washington, DC with Chords of Courage accomplished songwriter Caron Dale

7th graders wrote this revealing song, “Take a Chance,“ the Cesar Chavez Story. Their STEPPING UP! to make a difference project was inspired by this iconic leader.

Students, friends and family gathered backpacks filled with books, snacks and toiletries that went to unaccompanied minors, some detained, awaiting INS immigration hearings. This one song touched hundreds of people.
Cesar Chavez meets the Chords of Courage song subject criteria because he suffered great prejudice and unfair pay as a child and teen as a member of a migrant farm working family. When he became an adult, he chose to STEP UP! and help migrant farm workers who suffered the same plight his family had by founding the UFW, the United Farm Workers.

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“Singing with Odetta” – about Odetta Holmes

Music and lyrics by students of Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School, Falls Church, VA with Chords of Courage accomplished songwriter Stephen Coffee

Teachers Ms. Benedick and Ms. Carpel brought non-profit Chords of Courage to work with a group of sixth grade students.

In the Social Studies curriculum, students are learning about Civil Rights Era. The group researched Civil Rights leaders, and decided to write their song about Odetta, who is considered the voice of the Civil Rights Era. Their song, “Singing with Odetta,” tells the story of discrimination she faced as a teenager and her response to it. They performed it for the whole sixth grade, to robust applause. Students were so inspired by Odetta, they wanted to start an anti-bullying campaign at their school.
The prejudice Odetta suffered as a child lead her to choose to spread her message through song, across the country, promoting change and making her a Chords of Courage qualified song subject.

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“This Rose is Gonna Ride” – about Rosa Parks

Music and lyrics by accomplished songwriter Kevin Dudley

Rosa Parks was an African-American Civil Rights activist whom the US Congress called “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”.

Her experience suffering extreme discrimination lead her to STEP UP and speak out, at great risk to herself, to effect change for African Americans in the United States. She continued to be a civil rights leader until the end of her life. Rosa Parks is a wonderful Chords of Courage song subject.

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“The Ballad of Jerry Gault”

Music & lyrics by accomplished songwriters Kevin Dudley & Caron Dale

In 1967, The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision known as In Re Gault. It established the constitutional right to legal counsel for children facing delinquency proceedings.

The case involved a 14-year-old boy, Jerry Gault, from the other side of the tracks, who was sentenced to seven years in a juvenile detention center for making a lewd phone call. He didn’t have the right to see or call his parents, the right to counsel and no witnesses were called prior to sentencing. It turns out he wasn’t even the child who made that call. With his mother’s love and support, the ball started rolling to change juvenile justice laws in the United States. To make this happen, many people had to STEP UP! to effect this change. Chords of Courage is proud to present this story of tragedy to triumph that helps so many.

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“We Are Malala” – about Malala Yousafzi

Music & lyrics by Caron Dale and Laura Baron

Malala Yousafzai in October 2013. Yousafzai is a Pakistani school pupil and education activist, she was shot in the head and neck by Taliban gunmen whilst returning home from school.

upporters of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan reacted with disappointment to the decision by the Nobel committee not to award her the peace prize .

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“Stayin’ Up” – about Muhammed Ali

Music & lyrics by the Boys & Girls Club of Frederick with Chords of Courage accomplished songwriter Ted Garber

Muhammed Ali was an American professional boxer and activist. He is widely regarded as one of the most significant and celebrated sports figures of the 20th century.

Becoming a Muslim, he spoke out against the Vietnam War and refused to be drafted based on religious beliefs causing great detriment to his career. He was willing to put on the line all that he’d achieved,  including becoming Heavyweight Champion of the World, for a cause in which he greatly believed. Indeed, he was very controversial and his career suffered greatly. Still his act of STEPPING UP! gave voice to the angst so many had about racial discrimination and the Vietnam War making Muhammed Ali a Chords of Courage song subject.

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“People Are Talking” – about Oprah Winfrey

Music & lyrics by the Boys & Girls Club of Frederick with Chords of Courage accomplished songwriter Ted Garber

Oprah Winfrey was born into poverty in rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother and later raised in an inner-city Milwaukee neighborhood.

She was molested during her childhood and early teens and became pregnant at 14 though her son died in infancy. Yet through all this tragedy, she found the strength to not only improve her life but those of so many who also suffer in our country and around the world becoming a talk show host, actress, producer and philanthropist. She is often praised for overcoming adversity to become a benefactor to others making Oprah Winfrey a wonderful Chords of Courage song subject.

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“There’s a Hero In Us All”

Music & lyrics by accomplished songwriter Robert Dale Klein

Robert wrote this song shortly after watching the movie “Spiderman 2” in the theater with his wife. There was a poignant scene when young Peter Parker (Spiderman) is talking to his Aunt May, who wisely says to her nephew:  “I believe there’s a hero in all of us…that keeps us honest…gives us strength…makes us noble…”  He immediately turned to his wife and said, “That’s a song title!”  Over the course of the next several days, he wrote and did a rough recording of “There’s A Hero In Us All”, which you hear here.
Chords of Courage strongly believes there’s a hero in each of us. We just need to dig deep and let that hero soar by STEPPING UP! to make difference in the lives of others.

New Generation, – Sammy J

Land of the Free,- Vivian Renkey

Freedom Ride,- Jazlyn Sligh

Let‘s Keep the ’Courage’ in Encouragement!

Imagine young people choosing to listen to songs and watch videos that tell stories about people of courage, ordinary people who have done something extraordinary, people of great inspiration.

Imagine these students using one of the songs to launch an in depth study to learn more about this person of courage: the community in which he/she lives, time period, politics, geography, history, language – in an effort to get to know someone with whom they now connect.

Now imagine the class researching and identifying a related situation in their own hometown and STEPPING UP! to perform an act of kindness to make a difference.