By Jane Dunlap Sathe
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Brent Snyder left Charlottesville for Nashville a couple of years ago to follow his dream of writing and performing country music. He’s coming back this weekend to share a new song of hope.
Snyder, who worked in the advertising department of The Daily Progress from 2016 to 2018 before striking out for Nashville, released “Fight the Tide” as a single on Jan. 31. He’s sharing the new song with listeners in hopes of offering encouragement during those tough emotional times when mental wellness must be fought for and treasured.
“It’s a very personal song from my perspective of dealing with mental health,” Snyder said. “When we feel as if we are drowning, we are our own best defense, and there are better times ahead.”
Snyder will share “Fight the Tide” and other songs at Share the Love 2020, a Valentine’s Day happening at IX Art Park that’ll be presented by Side by Side Charlottesville in celebration of the community’s LGBTQ+ young people.
Tickets for Friday’s event, which begins at 7 p.m., are $50; they’re $40 if you get them in advance.
Snyder feels honored to use his music to reach out to others who need encouragement. The toll of depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges can be heavy, and “it’s something we don’t talk about often enough,” Snyder said. “But we should.”
When Snyder wrote “Fight the Tide” last year, “I was in sort of a dark, down phase, so I started journaling. Even though I’m a songwriter, I had never journaled.
“I just started writing what I was feeling, and it turned into a song.”
The resulting song was different from most of his other creations; a single he released in September, for instance, was an edgy take on more typical country themes of cheating and romance gone wrong. It's also far more personal in origin. A producer Snyder trusts told him “Fight the Tide” is the best song he has written so far — precisely because it was so personal.
As he worked on the song, Snyder reflected on a rough time in his life when he struggled as a gay man in a conservative community and found himself “in a suicidal spot.” What turned the tide in his own suffering was the realization that adversity had made him stronger, and that he could count on himself when times were tough.
“Looking back, my best defense was me,” he said. “That strength that I’ve built in myself is something I can always rely on.”
His advice to people who are struggling with mental health issues as he did?
“Start working on your inner self, and start realizing you have it within you” to heal and thrive, he said. “If you don’t feel you have the strength, find someone you can trust to talk to.”
During the times when therapists and friends aren’t available, sometimes a pep talk to yourself in the car on the way home from work can work wonders to turn a bad day around.
“I just look back on it, and it was therapy — just not with a therapist in the room,” he said of his own past car conversations. “It’s still hard.”
When Snyder finished his song, he realized that his commitment to reaching out to others who are fighting depression and other burdens was just as important as the promises he'd made to himself when he first came out as gay. Honesty was worth whatever it demanded. It was time to get real.
Emotional honesty is “the reason I love country music. It tells real stories,” Snyder said. “I promised myself when I came out: No lying; no hiding.”
The value of acknowledging mental health challenges and encouraging listeners to keep pushing for solutions that work for them is giving "Fight the Tide," and Snyder, a chance to help others.
"It’s important that we talk about it as a society," Snyder said. “If this is the way I break through in the industry, it’s one of the best songs to do it with. It couldn’t be happening at a better time.”