Dan Crow's career as a children's musician spans several decades and mirrors the progress of much of children's music. Going from local audiences to national audiences and back again, Crow has consistently produced sincere and tuneful music for kids from preschool to elementary age.
Crow grew up in the Denver area and received a Bachelor's degree in education in Colorado, as well as a Master's in speech communication at the University of New Mexico. He then went on to start a career as a public school speech therapist in Virginia. Crow started hanging out with Virginia folk and bluegrass musicians. After working with Doc Boggs, Mike Seeger, and Jack Wright, Crow started performing for kids in the Virginia area. Not surprisingly, Crow's first original songs for kids were based on speech and language themes.
Crow moved to the Los Angeles area in 1976 and released his first album for kids, Sound Songs, on his own Crow 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). The hopeful title of the organization reflected the musician's interest in expanding their concert tours and sales. CAMAL was instrumental in developing the interest in children's music in Los Angeles beyond animated characters.
Crow joined with Alsop on the 1979 compilation Silly Songs and Modern Lullabies. Meanwhile, Crow kept a fast-paced schedule of concerts in schools and daycare centers. Crow released I'm an Elf in 1983. Four years later, Crow released Thunderwear, an album based on language arts skills. With songs like "Homonyms" and "The Ballad of Collective Nouns," the humorous album was a hit with teachers.
In 1988, Crow signed with Rounder Records, and released the first of two albums, Oops!. The title cut, typical of Crow's simple yet self-effacing style, told of a child's perennial 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 anxious for wider distribution, Crow jumped at the chance to join Sony Music in its exploitation of the children's market, variously called SonyKids and SonyWonder. 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?," a poignant song of 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, A Friend, A Laugh, A Walk in the Woods. The album won a Parent's Choice Gold Award and featured the theme song from the popular family film Milo and Otis. Crow's final release on Sony was The Word Factory, again, another reworking of the Thunderwear material. That album also 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 "live" 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 Giggling Dragon in late 1997. ~ P.J. Swift