Bob Blue

Biography by

Perhaps one of the most influential children's songwriters in the 1980s, Bob Blue issued no children's albums in that decade and performed in less than 50 concerts. Yet his impact was seen across United…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

Perhaps one of the most influential children's songwriters in the 1980s, Bob Blue issued no children's albums in that decade and performed in less than 50 concerts. Yet his impact was seen across United States, and his lyrics, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes poignant, have been recorded and performed by numerous children's artists, including Marcia Berman and Bob Reid.

Bob Blue was born and raised in Long Island, New York. After graduating from Beloit College, he began teaching -- first in high school, then at the elementary level, in the 1970s. Blue found that music was a key to empowering the children in his care, and began writing original musicals for his students. He counted Pete Seeger and Malvina Reynolds among his influences, and often mirrored these songwriters in the politically oriented nature of his lyrics.

Blue began to perform his songs in 1981, often with his students. Blue's primary instrument is piano, and his simple accompaniments have a showtune quality. Like parody artists, Blue often writes songs based on familiar tunes. For instance, Blue once turned Charlotte's Web into a school musical, and used the melody of Beethoven's "Pathetique" sonata for a song about pigs.

A strong supporter of homemade music, Blue was instrumental in helping form the Children's Music Network, an outgrowth of the People's Music Network, founded by Charlie King, Pete Seeger, and other activist artists. In the '80s, Blue released a folk album for adults, Their Way. He performed in small gatherings and concerts around New England, New York, and Philadelphia.

In 1990, Blue released an album for kids, Starting Small, on Kim Wallach's label, Black Socks Press. The album was based on songs that Blue had been performing in his concerts. Sold mainly by word of mouth in New England, Starting Small had an impact across the country. Songs such as "Courage," about a young teen's decision to go against the in-crowd, covered a territory mostly uncharted in the sugary children's music of the day. (Imagine hearing the words "Auschwitz" and "Hiroshima" in children's material.) Bob Blue put those words in his songs, and gently made his young audiences understand the importance of history's lessons in their lives.

In the late '90s, Blue turned his attention to writing full-time and wrote the first in a series of resource books, Parents, Teachers, Children. But he stayed in touch with the music community through his editorship of Pass It On, the triannual journal the Children's Music Network.

Blue has always been noted for his generosity. Over the years, he has mentored numerous children's artists, including Dave Kinnoin, Bob Reid, and Sandy Byer.