The Charleston Gazette
Charleston, West Virginia
April 11, 2005


By Chandra Broadwater

It was meant to be.

When New York City singer Renée Snyder saw the infamous video of Jason Tharp on the news, she felt an immediate connection.

As she heard and read more about him and the reason why he ended up as a Marine recruit at Parris Island, SC., his death continued to touch her deeply.

“I have a son that looks a lot like Jason, tall and lanky,” Snyder said. “And under different circumstances, that could have been him.”

“Though the military is a wonderful option for many people, it’s a different story when it’s the only option,” she said. “That’s when a person can end up in a place they shouldn’t be.”

Jason joined the Marines as a steppingstone to art school. He drowned February 8, on the last day of water-survival training at the island.

Snyder contacted Brenda Gibson, a Braxton County High School teacher who’s been in charge of efforts to start a scholarship fund in Jason’s name. Together, over the phone and by e-mail, the two have been orchestrating plans to to get the fund up and running.

Along with donations of her own, the singer plans to give all proceeds of her album “Once in a Lifetime” to the scholarship. A song, “Carry On,” has been dedicated to Jason.

During the weekend, Snyder came to West Virginia to meet Gibson and Jason’s parents, Johnny and Linda Tharp. They had dinner together Saturday, and met Sunday for a meeting to discuss the logistics of creating a scholarship fund. Snyder also signed copies of her CD at a play in Sutton on Saturday night.

Today, she will visit the high school. Johnny Tharp said his family takes the slow and heavy depression of Jason’s death one day at a time. He wears the “I(heart)NY” hat Jason got him everywhere he goes.

“We’re still waiting for answers,” he said.

The investigations into Jason’s death are not complete. Seven drill instructors from his platoon have been suspended until officials determine what happened. Members of the platoon told investigators the instructors used improper physical conduct at some point during training, according to The Associated Press. But there was no reason to believe that the actions were related to Jason’s death, a Marine official said.

“I think the more we can help get someone else to college, so that they have a choice, then they won’t have to join the armed services to get to school,” Johnny Tharp said. "We just can’t thank Renée enough for what she’s doing.”

"The whole family loves “Carry On,” Linda said. Johnny cries every time he hears the soft, uplifting song about death.

“She’s a remarkable lady,” she said. "We’re overwhelmed with what she’s done and still doing.”

This year, the hope is that a student will receive a $1,000 scholarship from the fund, Snyder said. Later, when more money accrues, it will become a fully funded ticket to higher education.

“It will start with one kid getting to school with the fund, and giving someone an option,” Snyder said. “I don’t exactly know the reason why this all happened. It was just something meant to be.”

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Renée Snyder

Peeky Toe Music is proud to announce the release of Once In A Lifetime, the debut recording by the extraordinary singer/songwriter Renée Snyder. Devoted to music since she began playing the piano at five years old, Renée has worked extensively on the New York studio scene alongside so many excellent musicians, including Barry Miles, Shawn Pelton, Mark Egan, Kevin Bents and her husband, guitarist/composer Craig Snyder. Together, these fine artists provide the core support for Renée on this highly compelling and truly exquisite recording.

Each of the eleven captivating original songs on Once In A Lifetime is like a precious gem - honed, shaped and placed by a master jeweler in a setting that allows each one to shine on its own while contributing to the overall beauty of the piece. Blessed with an incredibly beautiful voice, its purity and warmth calls to mind one of Renée's primary influences, the legendary Joan Baez. And further like Baez, Renée's songs are soulful, intelligent and extremely personal, expressing sentiments that reflect her own experiences, but will resonate with everyone.

The exceptional arrangements - nine by Craig (two co-arranged with Barry Miles) and the other two by Kevin Bents - are quite tasteful and sensitive, never overpowering and always enhancing, like a fine couturier designing gowns for a beautiful woman. Brilliant little touches featuring outstanding guest musicians add a special magic -- Kenny Kosek's haunting violin on the plaintive title track; Jeanne LeBlanc's cello on the beautiful love song When I Sing My Song; Eric Weisberg's pedal steel guitar on the powerfully moving album closer Home Is In Your Arms; and Rob Paparozzi's harmonica on the evocative When Will We Learn. The occasional and subtle use of background vocals and overdubs further enhances the music in a most appropriate manner. Throughout the album the superb musicianship provides the perfect setting for Renée's delightful voice, embracing it lovingly to present it in its pure and vivid essence.

Renée's abundant songwriting talent displays enormous insight and remarkable perception, while covering a wide range of moods and emotions, from jazzy and rhythmic to deeply sensual and reflective.

There's a Difference opens the album with deliciously grooved, infectious rhythms and a nicely syncopated vocal. In a similar vein, Always is somewhat modal, providing a perfect setting for Renée's sinuous, snake-like approach.

Without You In My Life is a country-ish love song that displays Renée's range with Craig's guitar contributing to the stylistic setting with pedal steel effects. Carry On, a nicely rhythmic, folk-like song is a celebratory, uplifting and hopeful exaltation.

The two Kevin Bents-arranged songs are both quite sensual and lovely. Dreams - with Bents playing all instruments and joining Renée on background vocals - is appropriately dreamy, with a bolero-ish rhythmic structure that builds with gentle intensity to its conclusion. Learning To Love is a full-bodied ballad with nicely suspended rhythms providing the canvas for its beautifully etched lyricism.

One track in particular epitomizes Renée's musical and emotional sensibilities. You Begin Again, with solo piano accompaniment by Barry Miles, is a powerfully affecting and highly expressive ballad, exquisitely crafted and deeply emotional. Dedicated to her mother, a holocaust survivor, it's a heart-wrenching song of hope and rebirth. Understanding this aspect of her heritage provides an insight into the personal nature of this most special artist.

With perceptive and profound lyrics, beautiful melodies and incredible artistry, Once In A Lifetime is a powerful and dynamic debut for a truly extraordinary singer and songwriter.

For media inquiries:
CES Productions
Tribeca Film Center
375 Greenwich Street
New York NY 10013
Telephone 212.941.4010
Fascimile 212.941.4059

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