Speaker for the June 23, 2022 monthly meeting
Robbie Underwood is a playwright and composer, with many original works to his credit. Robbie is also a musician and singer, performing professionally throughout the East Tennessee area. In addition, he owns a project audio/video studio, where he composes and records songs and soundtrack material for himself as well as other artists. Robbie is a prolific lyricist and composer, having written over 230 songs to date. Robbie has recently written a song “Cry Out From the Ground”, chronicling a 70 year old murder mystery in the town of Oliver Springs, Tennessee, the tale of which has gained national prominence and the rumblings of a major motion picture. The song has been featured on Knoxville television, with Robbie telling the story of the murders and performing the song for the television audience.
In 2004 Robbie wrote, directed, filmed, and co-produced the docudrama “In the Shadow of the Steeple- The Pine Hill Murders”, a true story of a gun battle that erupted in downtown Oliver Springs, Tennessee, in 1890. The docudrama was very well received, taking first place in category in the Secret City Film Festival in 2004.
Robbie has for the last 18 years worked in a volunteer capacity with the Oliver Springs High School Drama club. Among his works Oliver Springs has performed is the western musical comedy “Shot Through the Heart”, with original musical score written by Robbie.
For 2012 the Oliver Springs High School Drama Group performed “Redneck Royalty”, another original play written and scored by Robbie. This play was written with seven original songs, complete with choreography.
Another one of Robbie’s plays is a “ghostly” tale set in Louisiana bayou country. This play is about the strange goings on at the McKenna Manor Country Inn, a family owned lodge in the throes of resisting a large corporate takeover, with all the strange happenings and “ghostings” any self-respecting haunted mansion would provide. This comedy with a twist was highly successful, and was featured on “The Heartland Series”, produced by Knoxville television station WBIR.
Another Robbie Underwood play performed by Oliver Springs High School actors was “The Adventures of Teacup and Abby”, a funny, yet heartwarming tale of two loveable twins born to a poor street woman in 1869 Brighton, England. Separated from the mother and each other soon after birth, they find each other several years later by the most unusual turns and twists of circumstance. Featuring a motley crew of misfit pirates, this story takes one from 1869 Brighton to 1885 San Francisco to terror and novel adventure on the high seas.
Robbie is also an accomplished woodworker and master luthier, having crafted many guitars by hand. He plays in concert using guitars that he has built. He had until recent years performed as many as 300 guitar and instrument repairs yearly, until the demands of his writing forced him to cut back on this craft. It is this aesthetic ability, combined with his knowledge of materials and structure, that serves him well in his design and fabrication of staging and props for dramatic productions. This combination of craft and artistic ability are also put to work in design and construction of various parade floats for area youth groups, having taken nine first place awards in recent years.
Robbie is on the board of directors for The Oliver Springs Historical Society, and is head of the archive team charged with the daunting task of documenting and preserving the history of the Town of Oliver Springs, Tennessee. He is also involved in overseeing the Abston Building renovation, a project that is bringing a historic old building that is on the National Registry of Historic Places back from the brink of collapse and turning it into the home for the town archives and museum. In addition to the Abston Building renovation, Robbie is also the author of many short stories and articles chronicling the history of Oliver Springs. He creates and publishes a pictorial calendar each year for the Historical Society, with funds from the sale going toward the Historical Society.