B.J. Snowden is a practitioner of what some music industry insiders have termed "outsider music," a category wherein artists usually offer their listeners more sincerity than bona fide talent. Sometimes they are self-taught, other times simply naïve. Like Snowden, what they possess is passion and a strong belief in the music they're making. Often odd, their music is just as often good, if a listener retains an open mind.
Snowden, who is based in Massachusetts, centers her repertoire around subjects that catch her fancy, including Santa Claus, sailors, and Canada. When outsider music is discussed, often she is mentioned in the same breath as such outsider artists as the Shaggs, Wesley Willis, and Shooby Taylor. Her sound has been likened to the warm and feel-good theme from the children's television program Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. The B-52's Fred Schneider aided her in the recording of "The Christmas Hop," Snowden's holiday single. The flip side is "He's the Santa I Want." Schneider has been quoted as saying she is a "'90s Renaissance woman," referring to her talent in the areas of singing, composing, arranging, and playing.
The middle-aged artist, whose full name is Bertha Jean Snowden, put out just one full-length release, Life in the U.S.A. and Canada, through Venus Records, a company that has since folded. Despite the praise of Schneider and others, as well as being featured on the MTV program Oddville, Snowden's musical career hasn't bounced back, or even picked up. In Boston, she was ejected from her teaching position, allegedly because administrators objected to her pop music career.
Admirers can still hear her sing the self-penned "In Canada" on a compilation of outsider music titled Songs in the Key of Z. A similarly named book by Irwin Chusid devotes a whole chapter to Snowden. She has appeared in New York at the Cooler, and her guitarist son, Andres, sometimes accompanied her during performances. ~ Linda Seida