Editor’s Note: The release date for Brent’s new song “Slow Dancin'” has been announced! This intimate and sexy song about the dangers of lustful power is due to hit airwaves on September 25. The song has a noticeable flamenco flair provided by the Spanish guitar prowess of Vincent Zorn of Charlottesville, Virginia. The song will be available for pre-sale on Spotify starting September 16.
By Selena Haynes | Photos Courtesy Brent Snyder
Brent Snyder has known he was destined to be a country singer since he was six years old. The Fairfield, Virginia native finally made the move to Nashville to make it his reality. Brent shares more about his journey and how he’s using his story to others in the LGBT+ community.
Tell us about yourself and your journey to Nashville?
I grew up in a small mountain town in Virginia called Fairfield. I started singing in church when I was three years old, taught myself to play piano when I was eight, taught myself to play guitar and started writing songs at the age of 15. From the time I was about six, I knew I wanted to be a country singer and that’s always been the dream! I started making frequent trips to Nashville to play writer’s rounds and meet with industry folks. However, I always struggled with my sexuality and knew that I “couldn’t” be a country singer if I was openly gay.
Due to my strict religious and conservative background and not really seeing a way out, I was seriously contemplating suicide before ultimately deciding to come out. It was extremely difficult to try and salvage relationships with family and friends and live openly in such a small town.
I ended up moving to Charlottesville, Virginia which is a much more open-minded city; however, I didn’t see a clear path to becoming an openly gay country singer so I gave up. I spent a few years trying to find myself and always struggled with depression and anxiety because I felt like my life was purposeless.
I finally realized my purpose in life is to be an entertainer. That’s what I’ve wanted since I was six years old. I wanted to be a country singer, and maybe there was a way to do it and be open about my sexuality.
What I’ve found with small-town folks is that most people are warm-hearted but when faced with something they’re unfamiliar with or don’t understand, they tend to turn to hate rather than education. In my life, I’ve seen so many attitudes changed just by existing among folks I differ with and being my authentic self.
Living openly and being an example that LGBTQ+ individuals are no different than any other human being has brought down so many walls with people I never thought would “get it”. That’s what I plan to do for the rest of my life. You can think of it as being everyone’s gay cousin. Everyone has one right?
I want to be known for my music, songwriting, voice, and point of view before being known for my sexuality. I’m a male country singer who just happens to really dig men. That being said, I’ll NEVER fail to fight for the LGBTQ+ community in the way of visibility, resources, advocacy and representation.
How does the music scene in Nashville compare to your experience in Virginia?
It’s completely different. There are very few venues, very few writers rounds, and very few opportunities to make a name where I come from. The plan was always to move to Nashville, I just had to go on a little life journey first.
I’ve been playing your single “Fight the Tide” on repeat because it really speaks to the soul. What drove you to write it?
“Fight the Tide” is one of my favorite songs of the approximately 350 I have written in my life. It was written at a very dark period of my life where I was fighting a serious depressive downswing. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for years and it’s a constant battle. Much like the ebb and tide of the ocean, depression tends to come and go like a wave. At this particular time in my life, I was really struggling to just keep my head above water in so many ways — emotionally, mentally, physically, financially, and so on.
I always turn to writing when anything extraordinarily good or bad happens and this time was no different. The song is truly just a pep talk to myself. Saying “you’ve got this” and “there are only two choices…give in or fight back”. Thus, “Fight the Tide” was born. I hope anyone who’s having a bad day or fighting a mental health struggle will listen to the song and be healed in some way.
This leads me to your non-profit, Fight the Tide Foundation. I read it serves marginalized individuals who don’t have access to mental health care. Why is this important to you? What are your hopes for the foundation?
As mentioned before, “Fight the Tide” really deals with my own struggles with mental health issues. So many in our society, specifically the LGBTQ+ community, fight these issues on the daily but there’s a noticeable lack of resources, care and access to help.
If you really start to look at what normal insurance covers for mental health services, it’s astoundingly very little. Most people can’t even afford general medication — much less therapy sessions. The result of this is individuals trying to handle it on their own and that doesn’t go well.
Imagine having a broken bone and saying “I’ll just walk it off”. It doesn’t work like that. Mental illness is a legitimate physical ailment and needs to be treated as such. The Fight the Tide Foundation came out of a passion I have for helping those in need finding help for themselves or their loved ones — whether that is financially, providing resources or connecting them with professionals or non-profits that can help in times of crisis for little to no money.
My hope for the Fight the Tide Foundation is it continues to grow and we’re able to continue to help individuals who so desperately need help on a much larger scale. If you’d like to contribute, Fight the Tide T-Shirts are on sale on my website, brentsnydermusic.com/shop, and 50% of the proceeds go directly to the foundation to help these individuals.
Do you have any new music for us to watch for? I see you have teased that huge things are coming for your music career in the next year. Can you tell us more or at least give us a hint?
YES!! There’s a lot of new music coming in the next year. My producer Jason Haag and I have been working really hard on some great songs that I truly believe will connect with listeners and elevate my career. My next single is called “Slow Dancin'” and will drop in late September! It is a beautiful, sultry, and intimate tune about giving in, in a moment of weakness, at the mercy of passion. It has a noticeable flamenco flair provided by an amazing Spanish guitarist and friend from Virginia, Vincent Zorn. I have some other huge things planned that I can’t talk about yet but let’s just say, there will be so much music and content coming at you this year, you may just get sick of me.
Your story is inspirational. Is there anything else that you’d like to tell our readers?
I’d just like to thank all those that have followed my journey, been an ally to me and/or supported my career. Being an independent artist is really difficult. It takes everyone chipping in to make this thing successful. It’s as much your journey as it’s mine and I don’t take that responsibility lightly. That being said, I’m known for being ambitious, thinking big and being a dreamer. I WILL deliver and I want your readers to be a part of this journey with me. As Saint Dolly once said, “I dreamt myself into a corner, now I’m responsible for that dream.”