‘My own miracle’: Salt Lake band brings message of mental health to Colorado City Music Festival

ST. GEORGE — Mentally, Jake Segura never thought he would be where he is today.

Citizen Soldier brings their music and message of mental health awareness to Southern Utah for the Colorado City Music Festival in Hildale, Utah on May 13, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Citizen Soldier, St. George News

The lead singer of the up-and-coming band Citizen Soldier said it has been a long journey, but he is determined to share his story of mental health and spread a message of hope and healing.

Based out of Salt Lake City, the band is on a North American tour currently sharing the emotional lyrics by Segura who at one time was hospitalized for psychiatric care in 2016.

There he penned a poem on a napkin, which later became the song “Let it Burn”  with 3.3 million views on YouTube.

Last year, they released the full-length album “Scarecrow” which was described by Music Matters Magazine as “the most jaw-dropping, emotionally engaging album of all time.”

According to the album review, “Citizen Soldier has created an album that will truly have a positive influence in many lives.”

Segura is now a clinical therapist who specializes in trauma after earning a master’s degree in social work from the University of Utah. He now looks forward to the band’s Southern Utah performance as the red rocks hold a special place in his heart.

“It’s special to me and close to my heart,” Segura said.

He resided in St. George from between the ages of 2-11 and still visits often.

“Anytime I am in front of red rock that feels like home,” he said recalling fond memories of dirt clod fights and biking on paths where a mall now lies.

Citizen Soldier will be performing at the upcoming 7th Annual Colorado City Musical Festival on May 13.

Citizen Soldier includes guitarists Matt Duffney and Kooper Hanosky, bassist/keyboardist Wonitta Rivero, and drummer Kyle Persell.

Red rocks to Salt Lake City

“It was a varied delayed gradual evolution,” Segura said of his start in music. “You have the seeds planted early.”

Segura listened to a lot of country music and the strong, story-telling lyric-writing came from those seeds that were planted. A friend exposed him to his first experience with rock music when he heard Bon Jovi’s ‘Slippery When Wet.’

“I fell into love with guitar playing from those hair-metal bands,” he said. “I loved the energy of those songs and how it was all larger than life.”

He “fell down the rabbit hole” of learning his favorite songs on guitar, however, he “did not fully believe” in his voice — his friends told him otherwise.

Citizen Soldier in Atlanta, Geo., on their current national tour, will be at the Colorado City Music Festival in Hildale, Utah on May 13, 2023 | Photo courtesy of Citizen Soldier, St. George News

In high school, he became fascinated with songwriting and the strength of lyrics.

“I was more interested in who wrote the songs than who performed them,” Segura added.

He recently had the experience of writing with lyricists he held as heroes. This included Scott Stevens, author of songs by artist Shinedown and Halestorm, and Johnny Andrews, who wrote songs for Three Days Grace and All That Remains.

He said those experiences helped validate his songwriting talent.

“The biggest thing to our success today has been getting over my pride,” Segura said.

It is a process when learning from others to hone the craft of songwriting. Even the best songwriters aren’t pansophical, he said.

“They are amazing, but they are just like us … human,” he said.

Mental health message

“I have a lot of fear about adolescents and youth viewing suicide or suicidality as this badge of honor,” Segura said.

The lead singer added the band frames their origins from his own struggles with mental health and his survival story.

“Surviving that is something that people should absolutely be proud of,” he said. “But you do not want to glorify it in a way that encourages people to live in that space forever.”

The motivation for his music was to help people who struggle with mental illness, in abusive relationships, addicts struggling with recovery or anyone who has a current struggle.

He said the name of the band features what their music is all about. “Citizen” is the everyday person and “Soldier” for the people who battle daily with a struggle that may not be visible to others.

“It is more about that single mother who raises three kids on her own, about people who don’t get validated for all of their hard work to be here,” he said. “I was in a dark place mentally and I just want to create art that helped people who were in the same place.”

The Colorado City Music Festival is held at Maxwell Park in Hildale, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Tom Bennett by Cracked Glass Photography , St. George News
The Colorado City Music Festival is held at Maxwell Park in Hildale, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Tom Bennett by Cracked Glass Photography, St. George News

Citizen Soldier will be performing at the Colorado City Music Festival on Saturday, May 13. Tickets are $35 for general admission. They will be joining a lineup that includes Royal Bliss, Matt Faris and Projekt Listen, amongst others.

Music festival co-founder Dawn Black said the the festival is expecting between 1,500 and 2,000 enthusiasts.

The festival was co-founded along with her husband Ken Black and musician Tom Bennett in 2017.

She said there will be food vendors, a beer garden and visitors should bring their own chairs and protection from the sun.

“This has opened up a welcome sign which brings people from all over the world to our community,” Black said.


If you or someone you know is in danger because of suicidal thoughts or actions, call 911 immediately. Suicide is an emergency that requires help from trained medical professionals and should always be treated seriously.

Nationwide suicide hotlines, 988, 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) and 1-800-273-TALK (8255), have counselors available 24/7. The Southwest Behavioral Health Center also offers help for Southern Utah residents; call 800-574-6763 or 435-634-5600.

Other resources include Suicide.org, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the American Association of Suicidology. All provide comprehensive information and help on the issue of suicide, from prevention to treatment to coping with loss.

Citizen Soldier retains all rights to all music and pictures used in the video and article.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2023, all rights reserved.

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