For over a decade, singer-songwriter and musician Brandon Rhyder was living the high life as one of the most celebrated music artists to come out of Texas. Widely exalted for his exquisite ability to couple gorgeous melodies with superb storytelling and deeply admired for his signature songbird vocal style, Rhyder was on top of his game, and then one day… he wasn’t. Health issues that could not be explained robbed him of his resilience, his singing ability, and worst of all, his confidence leaving him to wander in the no-man’s land of despair and bewilderment. Brandon Rhyder has privately trekked this onerous journey for half a dozen plus years in search of reclaiming himself, his music and his inner fortitude. Now, armed with answers to long unanswered questions, Rhyder is ready to open the book on his long hiatus from the music spotlight, and on September 13th, he will reemerge with a brand new song for the ages.
18 years of highly praised albums, a rigorous tour schedule of 175 plus dates a year, a publishing deal in Nashville and the privilege of working with top-notch songwriters like Liz Rhodes, Keith Gattis, Lori McKenna and Radney Foster, Rhyder was harvesting the fruits of his labor. It was 2012 when the downward slide began. What felt like flu symptoms kept a hold on Rhyder with regularity. His performances on stage became a gauntlet he had to cross every night. His vocal power decreased rapidly and his struggle to hit notes that were always before well within in his comfort zone were now just too far out of reach. He recalls very clearly, “I’ll never forget one night I was on stage and I couldn’t remember the words to one of my songs. I was trying to hit those notes by forcing it, but I was just hurting myself, and when you lose confidence, it messes with your mind.” No matter how much he searched for answers, the tally of personal and professional losses was mounting. His time honored ritual of meeting fans after each show was another painful loss for Rhyder. He was exhausted after performances, and time between shows was often spent just trying to recover. Trying to nurture his personal relationships with his music peers was also a painful loss. How could he explain his strange behavior to them when he didn’t know what was wrong? Doctors were seen, tests were run, no answers were found, so with no hope of resolution Rhyder stepped away from the spotlight and moved his family out to the country in an effort to live a simpler life. Having this time with his wife and 2 kids was indeed good medicine and in 2017 after several years of looking inward, he released his self-titled album produced by longtime comrade Walt Wilkins. The album was hailed as another classic soundtrack with all the signature qualities Rhyder is known for. Praised by the media including Rolling Stone Country, Taste of Country, TheBoot.com, Wide Open Country and Lone Star Magazine, it seemed like his musical flare was not lost, but the health issues continued to plague him and he couldn’t shake the self-doubt. Questions like: “Am I crazy?” “Is this all just in my head?” “Am I just being lazy?” “Is this what middle age feels like?” played like disgruntled melodies through his mind. He decided to make some changes; quit using nicotine, reduced his caffeine and alcohol intake, nothing helped. In 2018 he was hospitalized, but couldn’t be diagnosed and was given antibiotics and steroids. Then, in January 2019, the mystery was finally solved. He met a different kind of doctor, a functional medicine practitioner who took 4 vials of blood from Rhyder and handed him back 70 pages of confirmed food allergies that was causing his internal issues. With immediate dietary changes his life, body and signature voice has rebounded. Now able to reach those notes he hasn’t been able to hit for years, Rhyder has reemerged a brand new man with a brand new single and a live acoustic album to follow.
On September 13th Brandon Rhyder will release his new single “I Felt Good Today,” a magnum opus of a song inspired by his resurrection and layered with the poignant sentiment of loss. The song emerged out of the ether like a sunbeam breaking through the clouds. Driving home from Galveston on a beautiful January afternoon, 55 degrees, widows rolled down, enjoying the perfect solitude, and quietly, the gripping melody bored into his unsuspecting mind like a new virus. Within minutes the song took its first breath of life, and when it happens that fast, it’s almost always a divine cosmic energy that brings it forth. These are the kinds of songs that never die. They snap the ears to attention and the heart into feeling within seconds of the opening chords. It’s an ode to his newly regained well-being and also to his beloved father-in-law whom he recently lost. “I Felt Good Today” speaks the language of the soul and carries the freight of human inspiration, the incredible will to carry on. It’s a ray of light that traverses the darkness and waltzes away with your heart in perfect three quarter time.
This song and 3 other new studio recorded creations will join some of Rhyder’s classics like “Freeze Frame Time,” “Backroads.” “Rock Angel” and “Let The Good Times Roll” on his forthcoming live acoustic album “Main Street Crossing” to be released later this year. The acoustic aspect of Rhyder’s life is the genesis of his career and the means by which he became a songwriter. His 10th album release to date, “Main Street Crossing” intimately represents the best of Brandon Rhyder’s music both old and new, and is the culmination of two separate nights of live acoustic tradition recorded at Main Street Crossing in Tomball, Texas. It’s raw and exposed, much like the man himself these days, and it showcases a redeveloped voice beautifully seasoned by trial. At his core, Brandon Rhyder is a songwriter who has the uncanny ability to create songs that mean different things to different people. He writes the stories of our lives exposing all the milestones that make us human. Today he travels a brand new road and the new music fueling this ride has never been better.
“When you chase your dream, and fulfill that dream, that just makes you a dreamer for life. This is a second chance that I never thought I would ever get. Now, I feel like the best part of my writing is ahead of me.”
Music addict, a sucker for heartbreak songs, and avid Houston sports fan! I’am also the Editor-in-Chief of Texas Music Pickers.