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A short documentary film by

Warren Matson

The Untold Story of

Sarge & Shirley West

Country Western's first Black Country Western Duo

The Film


During the late 1940's & 50's, Loydis West from Coal Hill, AR was smitten with the sounds of Hank Williams and other great Country singers.  Upon returning home from his service with the United States Air Force, he was smitten again.  Her name was Shirley.  They were married and began their lives together in Fort Smith, AR. 


Sarge and Shirley West were soon trailblazing their way into the Country & Western music scene.  With the exception of Charlie Pride, Black Country artists were unheard of in the 60's.  In 1969, after writing and recording 2 songs in Nashville, TN, they were signed by a talent agency and seemed to be on their way to great success as America's First Black Country Duo.  However, due to health issues and wanting to provide a stable family life, they established themselves in Fayetteville, AR, and worked various jobs to support their six children.

Sarge and Shirley continued to perform as often as possible.  They garnered fond admiration from fans throughout their southern region.  They also cultivated a love for Country Music in their children Charlie, Tony, Joe, Luke & Ann.  Each one found an opportunity on stage with their parents to be featured in singing time-honored Country Classics.   

In this engaging 31 minute documentary Joe, Luke and Ann West reflect on growing up in their musical family.   Using the power of their music and infectious humor, Sarge & Shirley forged ahead through the racial intolerance of their time.

The film's main theme offers a personal and intimate view of the life of Joe West.  He found himself estranged emotionally from his father.  Through the gift of writing a song, Joe captured a message of appreciation and love that dramatically recast his relationship with his father Sarge.

In this film, you will also meet Robin West, Joe’s wife.  She refused to allow cultural expectations to thwart her from marrying the man she loved.  Additionally, you will hear from two of Joe's talented children, Becky & Caleb West.  Their artistic and powerful expressions will leave a lasting impression on you as they call upon our hearts to embrace the beauty of unconditional acceptance.

Play Trailer

About Joe
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Joe West - On a Mission of Love, Joy & Peace!

Following in his father's singer-songwriter footsteps, Joe West has come into his own as an artist with deep genuine Country roots.  Working hard to make it as a musician in Nashville, Joe rehearsed for hours a day to hone his craft.  And like his father, Joe also worked other jobs to provide for his family of six. 


In 1994, Joe was accepted as a contestant on the Charlie Daniel's Talent Roundup television show.  He would go on to win his way into the finals of that season. 


Joe performs all around the Nashville area and is currently featured as a main house band at the Nashville International Airport.  He is spreading love & joy with his musical performances to travelers from every part of the earth.

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Shirley and Sarge West

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What people are saying.

"In the words of Dr.Martin Luther King Jr.

'Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.'

A Song Can Change A Life is a wonderful & timely reminder that

LIGHT & LOVE can triumph over darkness & hate."


Kevin Carroll

Author. Speaker. Instigator of inspiration


"A Song Can Change a Life is a powerful story of reconciliation that gives hope for prodigal people, children, and parents. We showed the film during a series on racial reconciliation. Our church was inspired by the honesty and amazing power of  God that defines this story."


Pastor Weston Williams

Bowling Green Christian Church

Bowling Green, KY

"If you want a tool to use that is well-produced and tells a story of a real family & real change, then show this film! I especially liked the spoken word by Caleb. 
It was hard-hitting and very effective!"


Pastor Kevin Olson

New Life Assembly of God

Milwaukee, WI

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