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
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
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
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)