More than any other storyteller, Jay O'Callahan defined the level of quality and creativity in children's spoken word recordings. His distinctive, hypnotic voice could weave a spell that enchanted even the most care-laden adult. His recordings remain classics in the children's genre.
Born in Brookline, MA, O'Callahan started making and telling stories when he was 14. His first audience consisted of his younger brother and sister. O'Callahan graduated from the College of the Holy Cross, and went off to try his hand as an itinerant storyteller. In 1976, O'Callahan found that his stories could indeed captivate a larger audience. He formed his own company, Artana Productions, and began performing in storytelling festivals across the United States.
Over the years, O'Callahan produced dozens of recordings. In 1982, Artana launched its first release, The Little Dragon, a story about how a small dragon saved the world. The album was followed quickly by Raspberries, a story of magical berries. Raspberries won the Parent's Choice Award 1984. In 1984, Artana released four more albums. O'Callahan kept up the productive pace through 1992, and was also featured in three videos. In 1993, Artana released a CD, Around the Year with Jay O'Callahan. The singer also turned his attention to books. In the '90s, he released three picture books based on his original stories.
O'Callahan's work mostly features original stories such as "The Boy Who Loved Frogs" and "Frogs: Dodge City" -- a whimsical story about three frog buckaroos and their encounter with saloon clientele. O'Callahan is also known for "Herman and Marguerite," an ecological tale about a worm and a caterpillar/butterfly who discover their own importance in their meadow home.
He has performed on radio and internationally. His work has been showcased at the Smithsonian Institution, at the Library of Congress, and with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His audio and video story cassettes have won awards from the National Educational Film Festival, the American Library Association, Parent's Choice, NAIRD, and UNESCO.