Celebrating Our Veterans on the Stourbridge Line

Cecelia OttoPortland-area singer and composer Cecelia “Cece” Otto is bringing a unique program of patriotic music to the Stourbridge Line Train, which is marking Veterans Day with a special rail journey dedicated to America’s fighting men and women. The concert combines wartime favorites with timeless patriotic classics. 

Cece Otto will perform on the Stourbridge Line Train, 812 Main St., Honesdale, on Saturday, Nov. 9, at noon. Tickets are $15 for adults, ages 13 and over; $15 for children ages 3-12,, and Veterans may ride free of charge.

Clad in a replica uniform of the type worn by a female contract surgeon during World War I, Otto performs each song with its full original lyrics as it would have been heard at the time it was composed, interspersed with commentary that frames each song in a wider context. Otto will give an a capella mini-concert in each car of the Stourbridge Line Train, bringing an entertaining blend of music and history to every passenger of this special journey. 

“For this special performance,” says Otto, “I wanted to combine two of my recent concert programs, Songs of World War I and A Celebration of America, into something unique and distinctive that veterans and their families would enjoy. World War I had more songs written about it than any war before or since, and even though these songs are more than a century old, we still know and love them. In fact, many songs that people associate with World War II, like ‘K-K-K-Katy’ and ‘Over There,’ were written for World War I — it just goes to show that a good song is a good song, regardless of the era it was written.” 

A Celebration of America was created to accompany patriotic celebrations, and illustrates the extraordinary history behind many songs Americans learn from childhood. “Everyone knows ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’” Otto says, “but do they know all the verses? Because there are actually four; we tend to sing just the first one. There are so many interesting stories hidden in these songs we sing without thinking too closely about them. It’s wonderful to get a room singing along with a favorite song, and then share a piece of historical context that helps you hear that song in a completely new way.” 

Created by Otto in 2013, An American Songline is an ongoing project dedicated to preserving and sharing the story of America through unique, experiential musical performances. American Songline performances entertain, educate and delight thanks to Cece’s unique ability to engage modern audiences with the songs and stories of a simpler time.

“Bringing history to life through music is my calling,” she says. “You can learn so much about a place and time through its songs.” 

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