From thrift shop basements to Carnegie Hall, from Brooklyn to Bahrain, Zanes has been introducing new songs and reconnecting people to the forgotten music of the past. Referred to as “the family-music genre’s most outspoken and eloquent advocate” by Time Magazine, his critically-acclaimed music has been featured on Sesame Street, Playhouse Disney, Nickelodeon, HBO Family and Sprout. Over the course of 14 albums and 2 DVDs, he has collaborated with everyone from Philip Glass to Lou Reed to Angelique Kidjo to Natalie Merchant to The Blind Boys of Alabama.
Born in Exeter, New Hampshire in 1961, Zanes was a member of The Del Fuegos who released quite a few albums and toured heavily throughout the 1980s before spontaneously combusting in 1989. In 1994, he released his first solo album, Cool Down Time. Shortly after, he moved with his family to Brooklyn. In 2000, he released Rocket Ship Beach, which became an immediate hit in the family music scene in America. NPR called Zanes “The Gold Standard in kid’s music.” He has since released 14 CDs, 2 DVDs, and a pair of picture books, all for young audiences.
In the fall of 2017, Dan and his wife, Haitian-American jazz vocalist Music Therapist Claudia Eliaza, premiered Night Train 57: A Sensory Friendly Folk Opera at The Kennedy Center. They’ll be touring this show, which is performed along with Mexican percussion player turned comic actor Yuriana Sobrino, throughout the next few years. Night Train 57 is the first piece of its kind to be commissioned by The Kennedy Center to be created, from the beginning, as a sensory friendly experience. Dan and Claudia believe that Sensory Friendly is the future of family entertainment and have committed to presenting all of their various performances in this inclusive manner.
In 2017, Dan also released an album which celebrates the children’s music of his childhood inspiration Lead Belly–an artist he considers to be the Godfather of modern family music. Lead Belly, Baby! Is available on the Smithsonian/Folkways label and features performances by Aloe Blacc, Billy Bragg, Valerie June, and Chuck D. Dan, Claudia, and Pauline Jean will be touring in support of this CD throughout the 2017 / 2018 season.
Zanes also joined the ranks of America’s premier roots musicians as a guitar and ukulele teacher with Sonic Junction, the leader in online instructional videos and he recently signed a deal with Quarto Publishing Group to compile a family music songbook to be published in 2018…phew.
The Washington Post:
Dan Zanes on why sensory-friendly shows are ‘the future of family entertainment’ Click here for article.
Written by collaborators from The Kennedy Center, The Ware Center, and more:
What Makes a Show Sensory Friendly? Click here for article.
Meet the Musical Duo Leading the Sensory Friendly Movement: