Beth Snapp’s music always has something to say, but with her new single “Something To Prove” she goes well beyond. A welcome respite from the downcast demeanor many folks have been left with as the pandemic takes its toll.
Recorded at Classic Recording Studio in Bristol, Virginia and co-produced by Snapp, longtime associate Dave Eggar and Phil Faconti, the song evokes a sound that’s both casual and carefree, a jaunty sort of tune that celebrates both possibility and positivity. With Snapp herself on vocals and banjolele, Eggar contributing his cello, Faconti playing electric and acoustic guitars, and Jay Farmer and Noah Denton anchoring it all on bass and drums, respectively, “Something To Prove” provides a decidedly merry melody, mostly sunshine and serendipity at a time when they’re clearly needed the most.
“It all started when Dave mentioned a question he had been asked in 2020,” Snapp recalls. ‘Who do you want to be on the other side of this?’ In other words, he was being asked to describe the person he would like to be after we emerge on the other side of this precarious period. How will you be able to say you spent your time? How did you grow as an individual, and what will you be able to take with you into a new era?”
For Snapp, it was a prospect that was well worth pondering. “This was an important question for me, because like so many people, I felt that although the pandemic had brought my life to a halt in so many ways, it also gave me the potential to find some kind of catalyst for positive change. So much had been stripped away — our social support systems, the musical community and a good portion of my income included — but at the same time, stripping away some of the distractions led me to see that I was also getting an opportunity for a re-do, and I really wanted to make the most of it. I also found myself working as an Occupational Therapist in the COVID units, and that in itself shifted my views on the frailty, temporality, and importance of living life.”
Of course, Snapp has always been an incisive songwriter, as well as an artist who always aims to share her deeply-felt emotions with a decidedly personal perspective. Nevertheless, she admits that writing this particular song wasn’t especially easy.
“It was a process for me,” she concedes. “And I actually wrote the song before I really ‘got there.’ I wanted to share my thoughts about how I hoped to see myself grow, even before I had actually grown… and in fact, before many of us had. I knew my conflicts were pretty universal. It seems almost trite to say that we were all struggling…but hey, that’s what it was. I wanted to capture the process — the initial shock, the resistance to change, the decision to grow and be brave when times are scary, and ultimately the pride that I’d find from doing the best that I could and hopefully coming out of all this a better person.”
By finding her own way through the haze, Snapp also found a way to share those possibilities with everyone else.
“That’s my wish for all of us,” she reflects. “That we can battle the hardships and still be proud that we didn’t simply survive…but actually found ways to thrive as well.”
For those that have followed her career over the course of the past seven years, that optimistic outlook ought to come as little surprise. Snapp’s always made it a habit to dig deep into the music and musings that have always inspired and sustained her. As a child, she was indelibly entrenched in the Appalachian environs where she was raised. So too, many of the members of her family hailed from the same area of Southwest Virginia that the Carter Family had once called home. She acquired her initial influences from her mother, aunt and a cousin who sang together in a gospel trio, and that, in turn, imbued her with her own eagerness to sing. By the time she was in high school, she was performing regularly at her church, at weddings and even at funerals. Then, after completing her graduate studies, she ventured out on her own and began singing and composing her own original work.
In 2014, Snapp released her debut album, That Girl in the Magazine, which featured an array of contributions from special guests Dave Eggar, Tim Stafford, Rob Ickes, Trey Hensley, and the acclaimed bluegrass band Blue Highway. Her sophomore set, Write Your Name Down, followed in 2017, spawning “Grime and Grace,” the song which would bring her semifinalist honors at the prestigious New Song Songwriting Competition later that year. It also gave her entry to opening shows for Iris Dement, Scott Miller, Jill Andrews, Cruz Contreras and Dave Eggar, and paved the way for her to make guest appearances on several of their albums.
Ultimately, it earned her continued kudos from those who found themselves enticed by her unerringly accessible fusion of folk, bluegrass, roots and pure pop, and as a result, the accolades have been abundant. She was named a 2019 Kerrville Folk Festival’s New Folk Contest semi-finalist, and in 2020 alone, she scored a string of critical kudos. She also had the honor of being selected by the Tennessee Department of Tourism and the Bluebird Cafe as the 2020 Tennessee Songwriter’s Week Showcase Winner. In addition, she emerged as a 2020 Songwriter Serenade Finalist and was listed among Music Connection’s Hot 100 Unsigned Artists of 2020.
So too, she’s reaped kudos and accolades of her own. Leah Ross, Executive Director of the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion Festival, described her as a “local jewel.” Tim Stafford said that of all the artists coming out of East Tennessee over the past two decades, “Beth is easily the most original and talented.”
Still, the most descriptive praise was received from critic Tom Netherland, who wrote in the Bristol Herald, “Beth Snapp sings like a cage-less bird flies. Freedom waves in her delivery of lyrics, upon the wings of which glide distinction and the boundless glory of a soul undeniable.”
With the aptly-titled “Something To Prove” Snapp once again sums all those sentiments up succinctly.