"Bob Snyder may be the best clarinet player in the world."
By Sid Riley
Some people are blessed genetically with a beautiful voice which enables them to emit wonderful sounds, pleasing to the ear, inspiring to the soul. Bob Snyder was not blessed with a beautiful voice.
He made up for this shortfall by picking up a clarinet, and learning to "sing" through his instrument. He is able to make sounds on the reed instrument that cause shivers to run through his enthralled audience as he inserts his emotional feelings into the moving tones that fill the air. He is a rare talent. His rendition of "Amazing Grace" can not help but call up a tear, and when he plays "America The Beautiful" your heart swells with national pride.
Bob was predestined to be an outstanding musical talent, genetically and environmentally. He was born in Danville, Indiana into a musical family. His parents were professional musicians. At the age of eight this child prodigy played his first professional engagement, he played alto saxophone in the high school band when he was in the third grade, at the age of ten he was part of a family group called the "Hillbilly Kids" which toured Indiana, at age eleven he was playing the clarinet with the Hoosier Symphony at Canterbury College. When he was thirteen he appeared on the Horace Heidt Amateur Hour, and became a featured performer with the Indiana State Legion Band in Indiana.
During high school he won first place awards all four years in the Indiana All State Music Competition. After graduation from high school Snyder entered the Marine Corps, and soon had an opportunity to audition for the Air Force Band in Washington D.C., including the Air Force Glenn Miller Band. He was an active part of the Air Force Band throughout his military career, including the Air Force Academy Band.
After separation from the military he played with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and the Ted Weems Orchestra. Then he became a member of the Memphis Horns, and in 1966 moved to Detroit where he was a member of the Motown Recording Orchestra. He later toured Europe with Lionel Hampton and became a member of his organization and continued to appear with Hampton until the 1990’s. Lionel Hampton ranks Bob Snyder’s clarinet skills with those of his old boss, Benny Goodman.
In 1984 Snyder became Music Director at the prestigious Grand Hotel, a well known summer resort in the upper Michigan peninsula. During the off season for the Grand Hotel he operated his own supper club called "Bob Snyder’s Deck Restaurant" at Marco Island, Florida.
This world class musician has played with a long list of recognized artists during his career. These include Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, Stevie Wonder, Otis Redding, The Temptations, Diana Ross, The Supremes, Gladys and the Pips, and many, many others.
Of his numerous CD’s, those featuring his rendition of "Amazing Grace" have created the greatest degree of national attention, rave reviews, and significant album sales. It was the connection with the success of that particular song that led him to respond to an area realtor when he and his wife Jan were told of a home site meeting their requirements was located in "Graceville", on Piano Road. "We felt there had to be some divine intervention that was leading us here", Snyder explains.
Since relocating into our area in order to escape from the south Florida population explosion, Snyder has entered into a new phase of his musical evolution. This master musician has begun to transfer his unique talents to others, through teaching. He is teaching privately in Marianna, he is working actively with the high school band in Marianna, and Holmes County, and is generating great excitement on the Bible College of Florida campus in Graceville.
At BCF Snyder currently performs with the BCF Show Band and wind ensemble under the direction of Ron Branning. The development of this jazz group has everyone within earshot on campus tapping their foot to the rhythm.
Snyder has played at several cultural events around Jackson County during the past few years, including this year’s "Afternoon With The Artists" event on the Chipola Campus. We are blessed to have a musician with his unique talents and musical background residing in our area. If you see any local event being promoted where he is scheduled to appear, you will not want to miss an opportunity to hear him play.
He and the BCF Show Band will be performing a Christmas Show on the BCF campus this weekend performing "The Gospel of Christmas" at the R.G. Lee Chapel at 8:00 PM on Friday, December 5, and on Saturday an afternoon show at 3:00 and an evening show at 7:00 PM.
To learn more about Bob Snyder, or to order any of his music, you can go to his web site at www.bobsnydermusic.com You can even hear some of his great music there.