Adult albums and kids’ albums, contemporary folk and pop, Tom Chapin’s music spans styles and generations. For more than thirty years and through twenty compact discs, Chapin has entertained, amused and enlightened audiences of all ages with life-affirming original songs told in a sophisticated array of musical styles. Tom’s remarkable musicianship, great songwriting and personal warmth shine through whether he’s performing in a concert hall, an outdoor festival, a school, in front of a symphony orchestra or in an intimate coffeehouse.
Tom’s adult concerts and recordings are sparked by strong, intelligent songwriting with clear, engaging vocals and the intricate, melodic guitar work that has become his trademark. He has recorded nine albums of adult-oriented material. The newest, Let The Bad Times Roll, was released in July 2009. The New York Times calls Tom Chapin “one of the great personalities in contemporary folk music.” He says: “Mine is not a traditional music, but it comes from a tradition. My musical heroes are people like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie who wrote and sang real songs for real people; for everyone, old, young, and in between.”
Tom has gained widespread critical and popular acclaim for his recordings aimed at 4 to 11 year-olds and their families. Tom and his collaborators John Forster, Michael Mark and Jon Cobert have created a body of songs which are quickly becoming children’s classics. His family albums have been recognized with awards from the American Library Association, Parents’ Choice, the New York Music Awards, the National Association of Parenting Publications and Parents Magazine. Five of his family recordings have received Grammy nominations for Best Musical Album For Children, including Some Assembly Required, Tom’s newest family recording. Billboard magazine calls Chapin “the best family artist around.” A new family CD is in the works.
Chapin’s live performances engage the hearts, minds and imaginations of children and adults alike. Parents Magazine says, “Nobody today is writing and performing better kids’ songs than Tom Chapin . . . the Pied Piper of children’s music.” Elementary school teachers across North America have incorporated Chapin’s songs into their curriculum, finding them accessible and adaptable to classroom study and interaction.
With the debut of the song Not On The Test on NPR's Morning Edition on January 1, 2007, Tom Chapin's work with educators and children has been brought into the spotlight. The song, written by Chapin and his collaborator John Forster, takes a satiric stab at the “No Child Left Behind” initiative. The song has spread exponentially throughout the community of educators. The National Music Council recognized Tom with the prestigious American Eagle Award in 2008 to honor him for his “great contribution to music and music education in our nation.”
Tom is also a beloved narrator of children’s books on tape. Three of his narrations won Grammy Awards for Best Spoken Word Album for Children: Mama Don’t Allow in 2001, There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly in 2002, and The Train They Call The City Of New Orleans in 2004. His narration of The Fox Went Out On A Chilly Night was released in 2006.
His varied career has taken him to Broadway as lead in the musical “Pump Boys and Dinettes,” off-Broadway as musical director of both “Cotton Patch Gospel” and “Harry Chapin: Lies & Legends” and on television as host of “Make A Wish” on ABC, and as host of the documentary series “National Geographic Explorer.” He has contributed satiric topical songs to National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, poking fun at social and scientific trends in the news. Tom has a cameo role in Jonathan Demme's 2004 remake of “The Manchurian Candidate.”
In addition, Tom works tirelessly on behalf of many charitable organizations. He is on the Board of Directors of World Hunger Year, a hunger organization founded in 1975 by Tom’s late brother, singer/songwriter/humanitarian Harry Chapin. He is active in environmental causes; and is working to get music and the arts back in schools.