I am currently an author, composer, producer, teacher, speaker, and forensic musicologist. I have had over 40 songs released commercially with five chart singles, been associate director of a major ad agency’s music department, researched all the songs on the Coen Brothers’ Grammy award-winning soundtrack for “O Brother Where Art Thou,” won Clio recognition for a music campaign I composed and produced, testified in the “Blurred Lines” v Marvin Gaye case, etc. Yet the one thing that has remained a strong interest of mine has been creativity – the process itself and my own and others’ need to be creative. From the time I was four I was writing songs – first on the piano, then on the guitar, then on napkins, on trains, while driving (singing into a recorder, of course). Another constant for me since childhood has been a deep love of nature and wildlife and all living things. Surprisingly, it was this deep love of nature – and the fear that it might be destroyed by inappropriate development – that pushed me to understand more about politics, government policies, power, and potential for corruption through self-interest. Both the need to create and the passion for protecting our natural world, since it can’t protect itself, have profoundly influenced my creative work.
When I saw Kim Ray’s beautiful, fanciful and spirited murals depicting nature and wildlife, they so matched my own heartfelt relationship with nature and music that I was compelled to write Goodnight My Honey Bunnies and adapt the wonderful paintings for the book.
As for Learning History Through Music, a sense of frustration became a calling. When I realized the sad state of our dysfunctional and gridlocked government, I came to realize that, unless we ALL really participate in the process, we can’t expect things to improve. I came to realize that kids, our future leaders, need to understand the important elements of our past, how democracy was founded, and understand how it all works, in order to be engaged as lifelong participants. And without the vast majority participating, the everyman, the “We The People,” the democratic ideals that we fought for – a democracy “OF the people, BY the people and FOR the people” - will become a distant memory.
Except for the native populations that were here long before, we are a country of immigrants who once demanded the freedoms that were denied at home. The US, with its diverse population, is still one country with a set of unifying ideals and a cultural heritage that is rich in ideas and principles. We need these ideas to permeate the curriculum of kids in elementary school in order to prepare our future leaders. I have tried to accomplish this by creating accessible materials that educate, entertain and inspire kids, adults and teachers and which also provoke dialog and understanding of these important principles. So far, kids are finding the music videos on YouTube (the first one has over 525,000 hits as of 1-18-17) and they are often asking their teachers to use it in school. My aim and hope is that we can find a way, maybe through a corporate sponsor, to get these materials to at-risk schools and all kids across the country. Our future leaders need these materials NOW as a way of understanding the past to better understand the present and participate in the future. We owe it to them!
If you wish to learn about my professional and academic background, click here.