About BJ Snowden
B.J. Snowden is a uniquely talented singer, songwriter and performer who, with only one independently released album to her credit and a handful of live appearances limited to the East Coast, has managed to attract great attention and acquire a following all over the world.
Ms. Snowden's talent was apparent early on when she began playing the piano and composing songs at the tender age of three. As her interest and talent at the piano blossomed, she decided to study music more intensively at the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Snowden graduated from Berklee with a degree in applied music (performance), and has earned her living as a school teacher teaching music in school systems from Boston to Philadelphia. As nightfall beckons however, she dons a sequined outfit, ascends the stage, and singlehandedly performs all of the original music that she has composed.
In a strange but true tale that has taken the status of underground music legend, the staff of a now-defunct East Village record store "discovered" B.J. when they decided to play one of her demo tapes (an item that had been lying around the store for years and was destined for a "bargain bag" of hard-to-move cassettes). The usually jaded staff was mesmerized by what they heard. They convinced the store's owner that this was something so wonderful that the whole world should hear it. Fred Schneider of the B-52's, a frequent shopper at the store, heard B.J.'s music as well, and wholeheartedly endorsed the idea of a proper release. The album BJ Snowden: Life in the USA and Canada debuted in the fall of 1996, garnering mentions in The New York Press, Magnet and other noteworthy publications. B.J.'s music was frequently featured on Irwin Chusid's WFMU show, and she quickly became a listener favorite. Not long after she was a featured guest on MTV's Oddville, and could also be seen on Comedy Central's The Daily Show.
As a live performer, BJ has appeared at some of New York's hippest music spots, including Brownie's, The Cooler, and CBGB's Gallery.
Based out of Massachusetts, B.J. is always chauffeured to her gigs by her starlet of a mother, and is usually accompanied by her guitar virtuoso son, Andres
BJ and the bare facts
Inside the world of “outsider” musician BJ Snowden
by RUPERT BOTTENBERG
It’s nice to be noticed, even if the compliment feels a bit backhanded. Boston’s BJ Snowden, singer, songwriter and keyboardist, was certainly grateful for the acknowledgement in Songs in the Key of Z, Irwin Chusid’s noted text on “outsider” musicians. She felt, however, that she was in inappropriate company—many of Chusid’s choices, mentally ill or awkward outcasts, were there for novelty if not outright comedy value.
When, over the phone with Snowden from her home in suburban Boston, I apply the term “unlistenable” to some of her colleagues on the Key of Z companion CDs, she laughs heartily. “The way I look at it is, at least I’m getting exposure all over the world because of his book, which I’m happy about, but I agree with you on the other aspect.”
Snowden’s no musical naïf, no crackpot neither. She holds a degree from Berklee College of Music and has taught music to school kids for years. “I started writing music when I was three years old. I actually started composing before I played anybody else’s music. I started the recording aspect of it in ’89. Of course, I tried to get a record deal, but then I got responses back from them saying, well, your music sounds different. We would prefer you to have three or four songs that sound the same. That’s what they told me.”
Classifying Snowden’s oeuvre is a task, as it’s neither pop, folk, jazz nor anything else in particular, just straight-up, from-the-heart tunecraft, no frills excepting the snappy, supplemental guitar bits care of her talented son Andres. Snowden’s lyrics are likewise plainspoken as she ponders love, family, her teaching life, America—and Canada! She sure loves Canada, as her album title In Memory of My Father & My Life in Canada’s Atlantic Provinces suggests.
“It’s so beautiful up there. I’m an American of Canadian descent—my great-grandparents are from the Antigonish area of Nova Scotia—and I’ve travelled all across Canada. I’m so proud, pleased and happy at the response and reception. People are so nice, they seem to welcome you, and they’re so courteous, especially people that have businesses.
“I’ve written many songs about my feelings toward Canada with such enthusiasm, and when I play them in America, the audience cannot keep themselves from joining in the patriotism of Canada.”
Snowden knows how to win ’em over. Her fans are legion, including the tremendously supportive Fred Schneider of the B-52s (and some guy named Ratboy). “What happened was, I started sending my CD out to different recording studios and record stores. The store Venus Records picked my music up. I guess they put it to the side, and then two or three years later, they picked it up and heard it and this guy Ratboy really liked it. The place is right in the middle of New York City, down in the Village area, so a lot of famous people go into that store. Fred Schneider was one of them, and they put the CD on and said, ‘Listen to this!’ He ended up endorsing my first CD. Then we ended up doing a Christmas CD together—I wrote the music and he produced it. I guess he made me more enthusiastic—like, he’d say, ‘Put some more feeling into it!’”
Funny he should do that. Feeling is one thing BJ Snowden’s got plenty of!
"B.J SNOWDEN is the 90's Renaissance woman. Composes, plays, arranges and sings the h- - - out of a tune. I played "In Canada" for my friends in Toronto and they were blown away -- this song cements good relations between our two countries forever!"
Fred Schneider of the b-52's - Reprise Recording Artist
"All of her songs were humble homages to positive influences in her life"
Vinnie Scorziello "The Noise Magazine"
"Her songs are like snapshots from someone's everyday life"
John Elasser "The Magnet Magazine"
"She's been compared to Jonathan Richman or a soundtrack to Mr. Rogers Neighborhood"
"A thing that is clear from listening to her songs, it is nearly impossible to get her melodies out of your head"
Dave Perry "The Lowell Sun"
"A crowd of full of age 20 something fans who usually enjoy loud and aggressive rock bands, enjoys her music"
David Wildman "The Boston Globe"
"She achieves the lo-innocence all the indie kids so crave"
Dave Grad "New York Press"
"She has become the toast of the art rock crowd"
Chris Wright "The Boston Phoenix"
"Go ahead and try, but it will be hard to find an artist whose songwriting skills are more heartfelt and earnest than hers. If anyone knew about her there would be world peace"
Marc Scortino "The Block Island Summertimes"
"The schoolteacher from Boston with a heart of gold, Snowden sings upbeat, Casio-driven singalong songs that could force a smile onto the stoniest of faces. But as good as her songs are, just being in her presence is the real appeal-she radiates so much goodness."
Switzer, "The Village Voice" Village Choice Section
PLACES I HAVE PLAYEDNEW HAMPSHIRE
Sonny's Dover Dover,NH
Red Door Portsmouth,NH
Strange Maine Portland, Maine
The Buoy Gallery Kittery, Maine
Clark University Worcester, Ma
The Middle East Cambridge, Ma
All 4 clubs Upstairs, Downstairs, Corner Restaurant,
Coolidge Corner Theater Boston ,MA
Club Cafe Boston, Ma
Start On The Street Festival Worcester, MA
The Elevens Northampton, MA
The Basement Northampton, MA
Sierra Grill Northampton, MA
TT and The Bears Cambridge, MA
Plough and Stars Cambridge, MA
The Northeastern University Silent Film Festival: Boston,MA Where she played improvisational piano for the silent film festival.
Empire Club Providence, RI
Simon's 677 Providence, RI
Captain Nick's Rock and Roll Bar Block Island, RI
The Outer Space: Hamden, CT
The Radio Bean Burlington, VT
MAINE: Strange Maine Portland,Maine
The Buoy Gallery Kittery, Maine
Knitting Factory: New York, NY
Where she performed in all 3 rooms:
Knit Active, Sound Stage and The Old Office:
State University of New York Purchase, NY Sidewalk Cafe New York, NY The Cake Shop New York, NY
The Baggott Inn New York, NY
The C Note New York, NY
The Tonic New York, NY
Acme Underground New York, NY
The Pyramid Club New York, NY
Mercury Lounge New York, NY
CBGB'S New York, NY
The Fez New York, NY
Galapagos Brooklyn, NY
The Brighton Bar Long Branch, NJ
Fennario West Chester, PA
World Cafe Philadelphia, PA
Khyber-Pas Philadelphia, PA
The American Visionary Art Museum: Baltimore, MD
The New Deal Coffeehouse Greenbelt, MD
The Velvet Lounge Washington, D.C
Montreal Pop Music Festival, Montreal, QUE Barrymore Club Ottawa, ONT
Ba-Ba's Lounge Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Khyber-Pas Halifax, NS
Gus Pub Halifax, NS
Sappyfest Festival Sackville ,New Brunswick Sled Island Music Festival Calgary,Alberta
Completed a successful tour in Europe where her presence was well received in France, Belgium and Holland.
Singer Songwriter/Composer/Keyboard-Wizard/Renaissance Woman/Music Educator
Graduate of Berklee College of Music
Certified Music Teacher K-9, Commonwealth of Massachusetts no: 324735
Experience includes full time Music Teacher in the Boston Public Schools for the 1995-1998 school years,
Music Choral Director in Templeton Public Schools 1994-95 school year, earlier substitute teaching positions and
Music Director at The Middlesex School of Summer Arts in 1994.
BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC BOSTON,MA
Bachelor of Music in Applied Music:
UNIVERSITY OF LOWELL LOWELL,MA
Completed 18 credits of Music Education courses.
EASTERN NAZARENE COLLEGE QUINCY,MA
Completed 15 graduate credits
SOMERVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS Somerville ,MA
Music Teacher K-8
BOSTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS Boston, MA
Music Teacher K-5
NARRAGANSETT REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT Templeton,MA
Music Teacher K-6
THE MIDDLESEX SCHOOL FOR THE SUMMER ARTS, Concord,MA
BURLINGTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Substitute Teacher K-12
WOBURN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Substitute Teacher K-12
NORTH MIDDLESEX SCHOOL DISTRICT, Townsend,MA
St. MICHAELS SCHOOL, FRANCO-AMERICAN SCHOOL and IMMACULATE CONCEPTION SCHOOL, Lowell,MA
Music Teacher, K-8
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