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Rod Snyder: News

Local celebrity ushers in holiday season - November 30, 2008

Copyright - The Martinsburg Journal
RANSON, W.VA. - A local celebrity helped usher in the holiday season in the city of Ranson on Saturday night.

Rod Snyder, a Shenandoah Junction native and semi-finalist on Season 4 of the reality show "American Idol," was the special guest emcee for the city's fourth annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

The ceremony took place next to the town circle off South Mildred Street.

Snyder serenaded the crowd with several Christmas songs and said that even though he has been lucky to perform all over the United States and the world, he loves coming back to the area where he grew up to take part in events like the ceremony.

"The people here mean the most to me and I love doing these things," Snyder said.

The ceremony also featured an appearance by Santa Claus, who helped to light up the town circle and posed for photos with local children in front of Ranson City Hall.

Horse carriage rides were also available during the event, which served as the kickoff to the city's holiday activities, including its Christmas parade set for Dec. 6.

Saturday night's ceremony also featured musical performances by singing groups from Blue Ridge and Ranson elementary schools as well as Washington High School in Charles Town. [continued...]


W.Va. Serenade Player Tunes In To Politics - June 21, 2008

Copyright - The Herald-Mail
MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Rod Snyder always had kept his music separate from his politics - until Friday night at The Apollo Civic Theatre.

Snyder, who tried out for "American Idol" in 2004, also is president of the West Virginia Young Democrats, and his father, former state Sen. Herb Snyder, is on the campaign trail again this year.

With his father and U.S. Sen. John Rockefeller seated among an audience of more 300 gathered for 2008 West Virginia Serenade, Snyder admitted he was a bit nervous.

"My life consists of politics and music, but not usually together," Snyder told the crowd that came out for the West Virginia birthday celebration and fundraiser presented by the Berkeley County Democratic Association.

Snyder was one of five acts to take part in the event, which honored Martinsburg Police Department Officer J.R. Butcher, the Family Support Program of the 167th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard, Eagle School Intermediate Principal Margaret Kursey and the Shenandoah Community Health Clinic. [continued...]


Rod Snyder appears on WEPM's Panhandle Live - December 26, 2006

If you missed Rod's December 26th radio interview on WEPM's Panhandle Live, you can listen to the 20 minute audio clip by visiting:

From the Heart - October 12, 2006

"Jefferson County Native and 'American Idol' semifinalist Rod Snyder releases first album with some personal songs"

by Crystal Schelle
The Martinsburg Journal

In 2004, Rod Snyder had a chance that thousands have wished for --- a trip to Hollywood to compete in the semifinals of "American Idol." Before Snyder could advance to the finals, his dreams were dashed; Carrie Underwood would be named the season four winner.

The title track from his new album, "Leaving Hollywood Behind," came from that experience, Snyder says. He wrote it soon after losing his opportunity to launch his singing career and his disappointment can be heard in his lyrics, "...Take my golden ticket/ I don't need it anymore/ It's got nothing real to give, so I'm headed for the door."

The experience, Snyder says, taught him so much. In fact, he thanks Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson in the album's acknowledgements for their encouragement and constructive criticism he received during the auditions.

"It was a real confidence booster," Snyder says of being selected to be part of the reality show.

His love of music started long before he got his 15 minutes of fame. Like most musicians, music was always part of Snyder's life. "I've been singing since I was a kid," he says.

In fact, he always considered himself a singer first. But in 2000, an assignment for a college creative arts seminar class would help him to uncover another talent. "I wanted to write a song," he says.

The song was so well-received by his classmates that Snyder was encouraged by the experience. "I just kep going, and I haven't stopped," he says of his songwriting. "It's really opened up a whole new way to express myself."

But "Leaving Hollywood Behind" isn't Snyder's first release. In 2001, he dabbled with the six-song demo album of contemporary Christian music, "I Hear Your Call." Active with theBridge Community Church in Charles Town, Snyder's faith is just as important to him as his music and his other passion --- politics.

When he's not singing, Snyder is an agricultural lobbyist on Capitol Hill. In 2004, he ran for the West Virginia House of Delegates, but lost.

Because the election tied up most of his time, Snyder says he set aside his music. That was until he heard the "American Idol" judges tell him that he was going to Hollywood. "It really inspired me," he says.

Recorded at Bottom Dollar Studio in Harpers Ferry, Snyder says the process for producing "Leaving Hollywood Behind" was another new experience.

"First, I didn't have a band," he says. Snyder called friends who were seasoned musicians as well as young musicians who were looking for experience in the studio.

Although he does play the piano, Snyder says he still had to supply music for his new band. Because he doesn't play their instruments, such as a guitar, he had to also express to them how specifically he wanted a chord to be played --- more than just the notes written on the paper.

Snyder and the band spent six months in the studio, mostly Saturdays because of his demanding Washington job, in order to produce "Leaving Hollywood Behind." He describes those Saturday sessions as "marathons."

In addition, he was working on material for the album. "I was still writing," he says. "I was 75 percent done before we got into the studio, but I wanted to make sure there were 10 tracks to make it a complete album."

"I didn't want two tracks to sound alike," he says. "And I also didn't want to limit my appeal."

He made a point to not only include the ballads he loved, but also pushed himself to write up-tempo songs. The result is a collection of 10 pop-adult contemporary flavored tracks all written solely by Snyder (except "Cherish This Moment" of which he shares co-songwriting credit with his sister Mariah). And fans of his gospel music won't be disappointed with the track "Promised Land."

On "Cherish This Moment" fellow "American Idol" contestant Shawna Schweitzer makes an appearance. Snyder says he met Schweitzer at the airport when he first arrived in Los Angeles for the show.

They had lost touch after "American Idol," but Snyder remembered she was a student at Town University, north of Baltimore. He still had her number and called her up to sing on the album. She said yes, but Snyder didn't have time to write a duet. Instead he dug up a song that was six years old. "Cherish This Moment" was written with his sister Mariah for her high school graduation. After a blessing from his sister, Snyder and Schweitzer cut the track.

One of the most personal songs on the album is "The Last Snow." The song, along with the entire album, is dedicated to the memory of Desiree Shields, a childhood friend who died in a car accident before her wedding. "The Last Snow" came out from his grief of losing a friend. "The Snow is calling --- white as the dress she would have worn/ But winter's beauty disguises all the lives it's torn/ Happily ever after, so the story goes."

"I sat down and wrote the song. My emotions were very raw," Snyder says. "I wrote it as a tribute to her family."

After this year's election season is over, Snyder hopes to dedicate more time toward marketing his album and making singing appearances. But it's hard to make a decisions between music and politics, as he says hasn't totally ruled out the possibility of one day throwing his hat in the ring again.

"As much as I love music, I love politics," he says.


Rod Snyder Release Debut Full-Length Album - September 22, 2006


Local singer/songwriter and former American Idol semifinalist Rod Snyder recently released his debut full-length album entitled “Leaving Hollywood Behind.” Snyder, a twenty-six year old from Shenandoah Junction, W.Va., advanced to the Hollywood Round during season four of the popular television show American Idol where he competed in Los Angeles against Carrie Underwood, Bo Bice and other nationally recognized singers.

His new album contains ten original tracks ranging from the soaring piano ballad "The Warmest Place I Know" to the guitar driven rock tune "Tear Down This Wall." The title track "Leaving Hollywood Behind" is an infectious mid-tempo pop song with an unforgettable melody and poignant lyrics. The duet "Cherish This Moment" was recorded with fellow American Idol semifinalist Shawna Schweitzer who Snyder met in Hollywood during the filming of American Idol. The newly released CD was recorded at Bottom Dollar Studio in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. and mixed and engineered by Larry Burns.

Album release parties were held several weeks ago in both Charles Town, W.Va. and Washington, D.C. Snyder also performed songs from the new CD at several venues during the summer including the Jefferson County Fair and the 4th of July fireworks display at Sam Michael’s Park.

“Leaving Hollywood Behind” is available through the official website and is also being sold on and Snyder’s website also includes song clips, photos, official merchandise and a calendar of upcoming appearances.

In 2001, the artist released a six-song demo album of contemporary Christian music entitled "I Hear Your Call." He also remains active on the worship team at theBridge Community Church in Charles Town.

Snyder is known for his political activism as much as his music. He has been recognized for his leadership at the local, state and national levels of the Democratic Party, and in 2005 he was named West Virginia's Young Democrat of the Year. In 2004, he ran for the West Virginia House of Delegates, and he currently works as an agricultural lobbyist on Capitol Hill.


Album release parties announced - July 15, 2006

Album release parties have been announced for both West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

The first event will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 22 at Jumpin' Java in Charles Town, WV (109 W. Washington Street). This will be the very first opportunity to get a copy of the CD "Leaving Hollywood Behind" before it's available in stores or through online retailers. Rod will perform a few songs from the album, and there will also be prize drawings for official "Leaving Hollywood Behind" merchandise.

The official Capitol Hill release party will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, July 24 at Top of the Hill in Washington, DC (319 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE). The brand new album will be on sale, and once again Rod will perform several songs from the CD. There will also be prize drawings for official "Leaving Hollywood Behind" merchandise.

The public is invited to attend both events.


Debut Concert & Fireworks - June 25, 2006

Rod Snyder's debut concert has been set for Saturday, July 1 at 6:30 p.m. at Sam Michael's Park in Harpers Ferry, WV. He will perform all ten songs from his upcoming album, including the duet "Cherish This Moment" with fellow American Idol semifinalist Shawna Schweitzer. The concert will be followed by a fireworks display at dusk. Admission and parking are free, and the event is being sponsored by the Jefferson County Park and Recreation Commission.


New website!!! - June 3, 2006

Welcome to the brand new!!! Rod's new album, "Leaving Hollywood Behind" is scheduled for release in July, and this is the official website to get all information about the artist and his music. Check back for new concert dates, audio clips from the album and news about the exact release date.


SGA Alumnus, Politician Makes It to Hollywood - February 23, 2005

by Shannon Whiting
© Copyright 2006 - The Waltonian

These days, it's more than just college students who are hooked on the big question mark that still hangs over the remaining contestants of American Idol.

Eastern alumnus Rod Snyder ('02) is also a faithful viewer, but for other reasons; the current contestants used to be competition.

Snyder, who formerly sang with Angels of Harmony, had never taken voice lessons but was always told he had a good voice.

When the first American Idol show aired in 2002, he was prompted by friends and family to audition to "just see how far [he could] make it." At the time, singing was no priority for Snyder.

"I was trying to think about my career," he said.

For this political science major and former SGA president ('00-'01), thinking about a career ended up paying off. Snyder started off with a bang by running for the West Virginia House of Delegates in May of last year.

When he lost to John Doyle, Snyder "suddenly had free time overnight." Friends took advantage of the opportunity to give Snyder the final shove to audition for American Idol in D.C.

Snyder arrived at the D.C. Convention Center at 5 a.m. on a Tuesday morning that August. His duty: waiting.

"I had to camp out and wait with 21,000 other people on a concrete floor," he said. "I just slept there."

Finally, on Wednesday at 4 p.m., he got his chance to sing I'll Be by Edwin McCain in from of a panel of associate producers.

"Basically you get 20 or 30 seconds, and if you don't impress them in that amount of time, you're done," Snyder said. Fortunately for Snyder, 20 seconds was enough for his judges, and he moved on with the other 199 semi-finalists.

The next day, after being interviewed, Snyder performed before the show's executive producers. He was again asked to return, this time before judges Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and the infamous Simon Cowell.

That Friday, Snyder's current political involvement as a lobbyist for CropLife America proved to be a bonus.

His private life, both at home and at the office, soon became even more public when he was chosen as one of the ten contestants to be profiled for television. The result: his own paparazzi for a day.

Saturday finally came, and Snyder made his brave appearance before the panel of three with guest judge Mark McGrath, lead singer of Sugar Ray. No sooner had he finished singing than Snyder was told he was going to Hollywood. The news caught Snyder off guard.

"I didn't expect [to go that far]," he said. "I was absolutely terrified; it was nerve-wracking."

He credited some of his success to his musical involvement at Eastern.
"My vocal ability just really improved because of my time in Angels of Harmony," he said. "I think often about how much that helped me."
While at Eastern, Snyder produced his own CD, with the help of some friends. The album, which appeared on the campus bookstore shelves, sold out at 500 copies.

Though he has not been very musically involved since then, Snyder was still one of the 42 contestants to be given a November ticket to California.
Until the appointed departure time. "I just played the waiting game," Snyder said.

In early November, Snyder got word of the next audition and treated himself to a new wardrobe and voice lessons.

"I felt maybe I should brush up a little," he said.

The remaining 193 contestants of the 100,000 nationwide auditioners gathered and met one another in Los Angeles.

"I knew the competition was going to be intense," Snyder said, "but I couldn't believe the talent when I got there; it was amazing."

Snyder was placed in group one, the first to audition at the Orpheum Theatre, while group two took a tour around L.A.

Snyder's group had the morning to practice their songs chosen from a list. Snyder worked on Unforgettable by Nat King Cole and Queen's Crazy Little Thing Called Love with a pianist and vocal coach. And he explored the stage a little.

When it came time to perform, Snyder was surprised to find that the judges were actually much friendlier than they appear on TV.

"All along they'd been joking with me about becoming the next American Idol or American President," Snyder said.

Snyder first performed Crazy Little Thing Called Love, but not as well as he'd hoped.

"I totally botched the words under the pressure of the situation," he said, adding that he forgot several lines of the lyrics. "I had a feeling when that song was done that I was pretty much toast."

Snyder felt he "really nailed" his second song, Unforgettable, but that it was not enough to pull him through.

"At that level [in the competition], everyone's too good for you to make a mistake," he said. Snyder was then taken back to his group where his fate was revealed to him.

Cowell told Snyder he had "good news and bad news." The bad news was that Snyder was going home; the good news was that he would be returning to his political career.

"He was easy on me," Snyder said. "Simon's notorious for being pretty harsh, so I was pretty lucky."

Despite having made it as far as he did, Snyder was disappointed.

"I did not feel like I gave my best performance that day," he said. "It just happens so fast that you can't even really catch your breath."

The most of Snyder that was aired was a shot of him coaxing his roommate out of the bathroom. But the entire experience, Snyder concluded, had a celebrity-surreal quality.

"It really feels like you're walking into your TV screen," he said.


Snyder Comes Up Short in American Idol Try - February 10, 2005

Copyright - The Herald-Mail ONLINE

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.VA. - Simon Cowell, the famously notorious judge on "American Idol," had good news and bad news for local contestant Rod Snyder back in November.

The bad news was that Snyder was not named one of the 24 semifinalists on the popular Fox television show.

And the good news, Cowell said, was that Snyder can now return to politics.

Snyder, 24, of Shenandoah Junction, was not shown singing on Tuesday night's episode, but he was shown in the beginning trying to convince his roommate to leave their shared bathroom. Those who watched the show will recognize his roommate as being the man who proudly proclaimed himself to be FF&T - fat, fashionable and talented.

Neither made the cut and sometime during the night, itineraries for their flights home were shoved under their hotel room door.

Although he did not make it as far as he would have liked on the show, Snyder still plans to appear before cameras.

"I am definitely going to run (for office) again," he said.

Snyder, 24, made a bid last year to become the youngest member of the state's House of Delegates, but lost in the 57th District's Democratic primary race to incumbent John Doyle.

As for exercising those vocal cords for a purpose other than politicking, that also is in Snyder's future. He said he will continue to sing for fun and hopes to head to a recording studio later this year to record a few new songs for friends and family.

Snyder auditioned for "American Idol" in August 2004 in Washington, D.C., and was named one of 193 people from across the country to advance to "the Hollywood round."

Tens of thousands of others never made it that far.

On a Sunday in November, Snyder was flown to Los Angeles and checked into a specified hotel downtown.

The next morning, the contestants were split into two groups. Members of one group - including Snyder - sang that day while the others were given a tour of Hollywood and taken to a beach.

Since Snyder and others were cut on the first day, they never were given a similar tour.

"We were thoroughly irritated," he said.

Detailing what happened in Los Angeles, Snyder said he tried to find a place to rehearse in his hotel Sunday night but few were available.

The next morning he and others were bused to The Orpheum Theatre a few blocks away. He spent the morning warming up and setting his keys with a vocal coach and an accompanying pianist.

Once the show's three judges - Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson - showed up, the competition began, with contestants broken into groups of 10.

"It was so tense in there. Everyone was so stressed out. It was almost uncomfortable," Snyder said.

Out of 12 choices, Snyder chose to sing a revised version of Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love," followed by Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable."

He forgot a few lines of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." Although he fared better with "Unforgettable," he thinks the flubbed lines likely were his death knell.

Eight of the 10 who sang in his group were cut before advancing to the second round - portions of which were broadcast Wednesday night on Fox.

Producers interviewed Snyder before he sang and again afterward. He then went back to his hotel.

"I did not feel like talking to anyone," he said, adding that he didn't even want to call his parents to give them the disappointing news.

Although he is now optimistic and upbeat when talking about the experience, Snyder said he has regrets.

Mostly, he wishes he had performed to the best of his ability. He said he would feel better if he had nailed his audition and still been cut, because he would know he had put forth his best effort.

Since he didn't make it as one of the 24 semifinalists, Snyder can audition again this summer.

"I'm kind of leaving that option open," he said. "I'm thinking about it."


WV Lobbyist Also Competing for Spot on American Idol - February 6, 2005

Copyright - The Herald-Mail ONLINE

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.VA. - At 6-foot-6, lanky Rod Snyder tends to stand out in a crowd.

But will he be able to rise above the hundreds of thousands of other wannabe stars who auditioned for "American Idol"?

Snyder's not saying.

"That is all still confidential," said Snyder, 24, who lives in Shenandoah Junction and works as a lobbyist in Washington.

In a conversation filled with laughter, Snyder recently recounted his experience connected with the popular television show on Fox, in which amateur singers compete to be named the next "American Idol."

The show's fourth season is under way, with episodes scheduled to run Tuesday at 8 p.m. and Wednesday at 9 p.m.

A pillow on concrete

For about 36 hours last August, Snyder called the concrete floor of the Washington Convention Center home. With a pillow, he camped on the floor from 5 a.m. on a Tuesday until he was able to sing at 4 p.m. the following day.

Spending the night on the floor was the best way to gain an audition, since 21,000 other hopefuls also were jockeying for a spot before the microphone.

Once Snyder had his chance, producers showed an interest in his political background - he ran for West Virginia's 57th District House of Delegates seat last year, but lost in May's primary election to incumbent John Doyle.

A camera crew came to his Jefferson County log cabin and his office in Washington, filming segments of his life.

Snyder works as a lobbyist for CropLife America, a Washington trade association that lobbies for agricultural businesses.

Although friends had been trying to coax him to audition for the show, he decided to do it only after he lost his campaign bid. Plus, he said, auditions were offered for the first time in Washington.

"It was kind of on a whim," he said.

By the time it was over, Snyder had spent four days in Washington for one show-related matter or another.

Facing Simon

His final audition was before the show's judges - Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and a guest judge, Mark McGrath, lead singer of the band Sugar Ray.

He chose to sing "I'll Be" by Edwin McCain.

Surprise replaced the nervousness he first felt about facing Cowell, who is notorious for being harsh on singers.

"You go in with the notion that he's going to be scary," Snyder said. "He was actually really nice."

Cowell expressed concern about Snyder's vocal strength, but the other three judges supported him. He needed three of the four to concur for him to be named one of the nation's 190 semifinalists.

Jackson said he liked Snyder's voice and offered him a suggestion to hold his notes longer. McGrath said he liked Snyder's personality and believed he would do well in front of the camera, while Abdul simply said "yes."

The judges even joked with him.

"They asked me if I wanted to be American Idol or American president," he said.

His response?

"I told Simon I'd prefer to do both," Snyder said. "I think I've got time to do both."

Manifest Destiny (Or, go west young man)

Snyder eventually was named one of 190 semifinalists and was flown to Hollywood in November for an all-expenses paid trip to again sing for the judges.

For that performance, Snyder was given a list of songs from which to choose. He opted to sing Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable" and a revised version of Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love."

Snyder said he was pleased to make it that far. Whether he made it any further cannot be revealed.

If Snyder was named one of the show's 24 semifinalists, he will be flown back to California to begin appearing on live episodes later this month. Those 24 contestants then will be whittled down to 12 finalists.

He said his political campaign might have been a benefit.

While on the election trail, Snyder had to speak to groups, participate in debates, do interviews and appear on local radio shows.

"I felt very comfortable in front of the camera," more so than he probably would have before running for office, Snyder said.

A worthwhile ride

His musical roots extend far back.

"I've been singing as long as I can remember, my whole life," Snyder said.

In 2001, he recorded a demo album and sang an original song on the floor of the West Virginia Senate.

The following year, Snyder graduated from Eastern University near Philadelphia, where he studied political science and served as president of the student body.

After graduating, he joined the government affairs department at CropLife America and has lobbied on federal and state issues for nearly three years.

He currently serves on the executive board of the West Virginia Young Democrats.

Because Snyder travels four hours every day to and from work, he hasn't been able to watch every episode of "American Idol" so far, although others have been watching.

"I get reports every day," Snyder said. His segment and auditions have not yet appeared on the show.

One of the taglines for the show is "Who's Next?" Even if Snyder is not next, he said it's been a worthwhile ride.

"It's been such an incredible experience," he said.


D.C. Lobbyist Advances on American Idol - January 19, 2005
Is the next Ruben Studdard in our midst? Rod Snyder, a 24-year-old Washington lobbyist for the agriculture trade association CropLife America, is among an estimated 190 contestants on the blockbuster reality show “American Idol” to advance to Hollywood for the next round of competition.

About 100,000 hopefuls tried out nationwide, including 21,000 at the D.C. Convention Center last August.

Snyder was also one of five local contestants selected to have a special feature segment filmed about their daily lives. “They shot a lot of footage on me,” Snyder said yesterday, “mostly by the Capitol as I was going up to lobby.”

Which made for a delicate situation at work. “I hadn’t told my trade association that I was going to try out,” he said. “They wanted to come into the office with a film crew and I had to explain where I’d been the last two days.”

Last night’s season premiere aired after The Hill went to press, and not even Snyder knew if his segment would make the final edit, but he sounded optimistic. On Feb. 8, “Idol” will begin running footage of the contestants’ Hollywood auditions.

Snyder grew up in a political family in Jefferson County and ran for the West Virginia House of Delegates as a Democrat last year at age 23. He still lives in the state, making the four-hour round trip commute each day to his job in Washington.

While Snyder’s career has been focused on politics, music is something he’s always done on the side. He recorded a demo album of contemporary Christian music in 2001 that sold “about 500 copies” and sang one of his original songs on the floor of the West Virginia Senate.


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