by Summer Jones (age 11) 12/18/2016
You all may know Dan Crow from his song “Walk Outside” which is the theme song from the popular family film Milo and Otis (play beginning of milo and Otis). Crow has been a children’s musician, singing and playing his guitar for kids for several decades. Going from local audiences to national audiences and back again, Crow has consistently produced both silly and educational music for kids from preschool to elementary age.
Crow was born in Columbus, Ohio. His Dad was born there too. His Mom was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Crow grew up in Denver, Colorado with his sister, Tana, who is two years younger than him. When he was eight he had a Collie dog named Blaze who saved his life. Dan was being threatened by a neighbor’s Boxer dog when Blaze attacked the dog and scared it off!
Later, Crow attended college in Colorado and received a bachelor’s degree in education there, as well as a master’s in speech communication at the University of New Mexico. He then moved to Virginia and went on to start a career as a public school speech therapist. As a speech therapist, Crow worked with kids who had trouble speaking correctly.
While working as a speech therapist, Dan Crow started hanging out with Virginia bluegrass and folk musicians. After working with musicians Doc Boggs, Jack Wright, and Mike Seeger, an accomplished musician who played many instruments, Crow started performing for kids in Virginia. Not surprisingly, Crow’s first original songs for kids were based on speech and language themes.
Crow moved to Los Angeles in 1976 and released his first album for kids, “Sound Songs,” on his own record label. The album featured simple arrangements with Crow on guitar, and original compositions such as “American Gum” and “Fred, Frank, and Francis Frog.” Crow teamed up with other children’s musicians in the Los Angeles area such as Peter Alsop and Marcia Berman and started CAMAL (Children’s Artists Making A Living).
Crow joined with Alsop on the 1979 project “Silly Songs and Modern Lullabies.” Meanwhile, Crow kept a fast-paced schedule of concerts in schools, daycare centers, and hospitals. Crow released “I’m an Elf” four years later in 1983. Four more years later, Crow Released “Thunderwear,” an album based on language arts skills. With songs like “Homonyms” and “The Ballad of Collective Nouns,” the funny album was a hit with teachers.
In 1988, Crow signed with Rounder Records, and released the album “Oops.” The goofy title track is about a child’s clumsiness. Two years later, Crow teamed up with his old friends from CAMAL and produced “Chanukah at Home.” The album won a Parent’s Choice Award.
Like many other artists wanting wider distribution, Crow jumped at the chance to join Sony Music and in 1991, Crow released the first of several titles on the Sony label, “Santa Songs,” a reworking of his “I’m an Elf” album. The album also included some new songs, including “Will Santa Find Us Here?” which is a sad song about a homeless child. In that year, Crow was also featured on a Golden Book video called “Sing Together Baby Songs.”
In the following year, Crow introduced another album on Sony called A Friend, A Laugh, A Walk in the Woods. The album won a Parent’s Choice Gold Award. Crow’s final release on Sony was “The Word Factory,” another reworking of the Thunderwear material. The album won a Parent’s Choice Award. Sony then decided the children’s market wasn’t as successful as they imagined, and let all but one of their artists move on. Crow again concentrated on the Los Angeles area and began creating and producing language arts packages for Disney. Crow also was a staff songwriter for “Welcome to Pooh Corner” and “Dumbo’s Circus” on the Disney channel. Crow signed an arrangement with Alls House Family Entertainment and released the album “The Giggling Dragon” in late 1997.
Dan has a big heart and likes to help people in need. In 2009, Jennifer Jones, a local mother of two young daughters, asked Dan if he’d consider doing a benefit concert to raise money for the school. Dan agreed and she show raised nearly two thousand dollars!
Young kids love to learn and be silly. Dan Crow was in his element at a recent concert, performing to a bunch of preschool kids, telling them stories, singing songs, and cracking jokes. He had the kids laughing out loud as he told them a tale about kissing a cow. He’s performed this routine thousands of times to young kids all around the world but for him it never gets old. For example, in May of 2016, Crow traveled from California, to Germany, to Italy, to Spain, and then back to California! Dan also performs at the Camarillo library every summer during their Wacky Wednesday series. It’s fun for kids to see him, participate in some of the songs, and buy his albums.
Dan feeds off the energy of his young audiences, wherever he is. When asked what his favorite part about working for children was, Dan said, “Kids have the greatest laughs in the world and that keeps me doing what I do!”