Robb Nash was on his way to rock and roll fame. He had a recording contract, but he felt something was missing. Fast forward almost six years and his music is having a lasting impact on young audiences.
“You just get this moment where something just feels so right, even though it doesn’t make sense to anyone around me,” Nash told Global News. “And so ripping up the record deal, the management deal, the publishing deal, felt so good,” said Nash.
Now, Nash and his band spend much of the year on tour in a donated bus, travelling to play in school gyms, remote First Nations communities and youth detention centres.
The goal is simple: to inspire and offer hope to youth who may not always feel that. And, teens are listening.
Nash’s unique brand of humor and reality mixed with music has everyone engaged and that’s what he hope’s for each time he gets on stage.
At an afternoon concert in an Abbotsford, B.C. high school gym, it’s clear the teens are excited to be playing hooky sanctioned by their parents and teachers. They all stream in and as the lights dim the glow of cell phone screens is still obvious all around. But as Nash and his band take to the stage, that changes.
“We got kids coming up every day that look us in the eye and say, ‘You came here for me today. It was like you were talking right to me,'” Nash said.
Guiding youth toward a new path in life through his music
One of the young people Nash has inspired over the years is Kenzie Marshant. She saw Nash perform when she was just 15 years old and struggling with her path in life.
“I think every 15-year-old struggles… but I was getting down a really bad path,” Marshant, now 20, told Global News in Edmonton. “I mean it’s really hard when you’re that young, you don’t realize the choices you make that will determine the rest of your life.”
She said something just clicked for her when she watched Nash on stage.
“My auntie did bring me out to see Robb and then it was just instant… you just instantly feel better,” she said. “You instantly feel like you can do better.”
Marshant’s aunt, Kim Herr, said she noticed a change in her niece almost immediately.
“I literally saw her thinking and pondering, and just listening so intently and hearing his message so deeply. And I literally saw the change,” Herr said.
After her breakthrough, Marshant is on a better path, aiming to help others as a psychiatric nurse.
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Combination of music and intervention
Nash and his band work hard to ensure that breakthroughs like Marshant’s happen and have a lasting impact.
It’s not just about the music. Nash works with teachers and counsellors before they play a concert.
“We send videos out to the schools before we get there,” he said.
“We meet with the counsellors and everybody like that before the show starts, letting them know okay this is what’s happening, this is what to watch for because all we do is we try to stir people. We try to unlock those emotions. We try to get those conversations started.”
The band also sticks around after concerts, not just to sign autographs but to listen and to let teens know that they are not alone.
Nash said that this is part of what youth are looking for.
“Out of 492 suicide notes, they only have one thing in common. They don’t talk about the fact that they want a nicer house or a shinier car. You know what the only thing they have in common is? They all say ‘I feel insignificant. I don’t have purpose and belonging.’”
Inspiring Teens with his own story
Nash went through some difficult times in his own life to get to where he is today. At 17, he was in a car accident that nearly killed him. Medically speaking, he did die.
His long road back to life and health was a difficult one.
“Some people listen to this story and they think, ‘Oh dude, that’s Robb Nash. That’s the guy who came back to life inspired, wanting to change the world.'”
But he said that wasn’t really the case.
“I was very angry, very bitter. I went from the guy who played every sport to getting bathed by my mom. I went through a lot of darkness.”
His guitarist, Bryan Beach, said he’s inspired by Nash’s commitment to what he does.
“There are days when he’s going through a lot of pain, but he’s finding fuel through this story and living outside of himself,” Beach said. “So, the one thing that I value in his leadership is he truly leads by example.”
Drummer Jonny Holliday agreed, saying Nash is “the most selfless person I know, that’s for sure. The servant heart that he has is just inspiring for all of us.”
“To be honest with you, it’s not just about keeping yourself going — it’s an addiction,” Nash said. “It’s a greater addiction than any drug out there because I think it’s in all of our DNA. We’re supposed to do things for other people.”
It’s this selflessness that inspires and Nash’s no-nonsense attitude that allows youth to connect to what he’s saying and opens them up to hope, instead of despair.
Rohit Joseph contributed to this report
WHAT MAKES AN EVERYDAY HERO?
There are many people trying to make a difference who rarely receive the media attention they deserve. Everyday Hero is our attempt to provide better balance in our newscast. We profile Canadians who don’t go looking for attention, but deserve it. People who through their ideas, efforts and dedication are making a difference in the lives of others.
If you know of an Everyday Hero whose story we should tell, share the information with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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