Bahai News - Something for everyone: Singer Red Grammer performs for children and adults at WAC From the Friday, February 08, 2002 What's Up

Something for everyone: Singer Red Grammer performs for children and adults at WAC

TRESA MCBEE -Northwest Arkansas Times

When Red Grammer sings for children, his shirt is always red.

Prior to one school performance, a frantic principal pulled Grammer, clad in bright blue, into his office. Quickly, the administrator called his wife and asked her to bring his red-and-white stripped shirt.

With 580 children all wearing red in the singer's honor, why, the principal wanted to know, wasn't Grammer wearing red?

He learned his lesson.

And on Tuesday, children in Northwest Arkansas can hear Grammer's brand of entertainment at Fayetteville's Walton Arts Center. Adults can enjoy selections from Grammer's second self-produced adult CD, "Soul Man in a Techno World," released last year, when he performs Sunday.

Grammer grew up loving music, teaching himself guitar and playing the drums. He still doesn't read music that well, but he's got a good ear and a booming voice. Grammer didn't think about becoming a musician -- a label that seems strange even today -- but by college he was a voice major.

Grammer spent his first two college years in his native New Jersey at Rutgers University. Transferring to Beloit College, a small liberal arts school in Wisconsin, He graduated in 1975. While there, Grammer met his future wife and songwriting partner, Kathy.

The couple then moved to San Diego, Calif., where Grammer sought to move away from the folk scene in favor of a Kenny Loggins pop sound. Working a few nights a week translated into a "pretty iffy" existence for Grammer, his wife and their infant.

A call in 1981 helped change that.

Searching for a tenor, Alex Hassilev of the folk group Limeliters -- contemporaries of the Kingston Trio -- called Grammer. He eventually joined the group, gaining his first national exposure.

Although singing folk again, Grammer earned good pay -- even if only part time. During time off, he and his wife wrote songs to amuse their young son, and she wondered if selling that music could bring in extra money.

Thus, Grammer entered children's entertainment by accident. By 1988, he had relocated to New York, left the Limeliters and appeared on the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. Eventually, Grammar got over the nervousness he said all musicians feel when performing in front of children.

"There's this duality about children," he said. "They let you love them as much as you can most of the time. That's the great thing about children ... which doesn't happen in the real world. On the other hand, they're very truthful. If you're not real, they call you on it."

Grammer now takes his music, which includes shows for adults, to venues and schools all over the country, traveling about 20 weeks a year. He said the songs he and his wife wrote for their first children's album, 1986's "Teaching Peace," grew out of their belief in the Baha'i faith, which preaches peace and breaking down barriers that stand between humanity and peace.

"When we write the songs, we go under the assumption that everyone in the world is wired for positive social behavior," Grammer explained. "Basically, the blueprint is leaning toward social cohesion. We write these songs believing that if ... they're fun and they're playful enough, children will go along with it. And we've found that to be true."

©Copyright 2002, Northwest Arkansas Times (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)

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