Lonestar's Richie McDonald is the first voice you hear on "Love Lives On," but to appreciate the power of the new tribute song you need to know about the group's collaborators, and one very special co-writer.

Bonnie Carroll, the founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), dove into her personal story to inspire the title track of a project that brings over a dozen country hitmakers together for a common cause. Carroll's husband, Brig. Gen. Tom Carroll, died in an Army plane crash with seven others in 1992. It's the tragedy that inspired her to create TAPS two years later. Her telling of the story inspired McDonald to start a lyric, seen first in a lyric video premiered exclusively on Taste of Country.

"She was giving a speech and at the very end she goes, 'Even though he's not here with me, his love lives on,'" Lonestar founder Dean Sams tells Taste of Country. Original members Michael Britt and Keech Rainwater have joined him to talk about a song that also includes guest vocals from Vince Gill.

The Carrolls' story is told verbatim during the song's first verse, but "Love Lives On" carries a message of hope in the face of tragedy. "Love lives on, every day, ever night / In our hearts, in our minds / Like an old classic song, love lives on," the group sings at the first chorus. It's a personal story amplified that the group hopes will be embraced by the men and women of the U.S. military, past and present.

That's something they've experienced before. In 2001 Lonestar released "I'm Already There," a song inspired by a conversation McDonald had with his young son while the band was touring. Quickly, servicemen adopted it as their own coming home anthem. One year after the song's release, America would be involved in a war in the Middle East, and the group witnessed first hand the power of their music.

"I remember we were on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Florida," Britt begins, "and they had a jet flyover. And our entire crowd was military service members from all the different branches, and that was a pretty surreal moment."

"A few thousand of them crying," Sams adds.

John Rich, Billy Ray Cyrus, Pam Tilllis, Larry Gatlin and Andy Griggs are a few more of the artists involved with the full Love Lives On album. Each of the 10 songs features surviving family members of someone killed while serving our country as a co-writer. The songs tell their stories in hopes of letting people know there's help out there.

“This whole project is about making people aware of TAPS, what they do and raising money so they can help more military families that have lost a loved one," Sams says.

"Love Lives On" the song will be available at digital retailers on March 20, with the album set for a Memorial Day weekend 2020 release. Net proceeds will benefit TAPS.

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