Dan Zanes occupies a unique place in American music where sea shanties, English music hall, North American and West Indian folk music, play party songs, the spirit of early rock-and-roll and soulful originals collide. With his band, Dan Zanes and Friends, he has toured the world sharing handmade 21st century social music with enthusiastic crowds of kids and kid sympathizers.
Zanes was born in Exeter, New Hampshire in 1961. He was a member of The Del Fuegos from the beginning to the end of the eighties. In 1994, he released a solo CD, Cool Down Time. Shortly after, he moved to Brooklyn with his family, where he then released Rocket Ship Beach (2000). It became an immediate hit with families around America as well as with The New York Times Magazine, which said, “Zanes’ kids music works because it is not kids music; it’s just music—music that’s unsanitized, unpasteurized, that’s organic even”.
From thrift shop basements to Carnegie hall, from Brooklyn to Bahrain and beyond, the Grammy award-winner has been introducing new songs and reconnecting people to songs that have always been there, and still are—although people may have forgotten about them. Referred to as “the family-music genre’s most outspoken and eloquent advocate” by Time Magazine, his widely-acclaimed music has been featured on Sesame Street, Playhouse Disney, Nickelodeon, HBO Family and Sprout.
In January 2017, he joined the ranks of some of America’s premier musicians as a guitar and ukulele teacher with Sonic Junction, the leader in online instructional roots videos. Dan is currently finishing up an album which celebrates the children’s music of his main inspiration, Lead Belly, titled “Lead Belly, Baby!”. It will be released on the Smithsonian/Folkways label in late fall 2017.
Claudia Eliaza is a Haitian-American jazz vocalist and Music Therapist with a passion for communal music making. She has performed around the world including several tours of Russia where she is a rising star. She and Dan Zanes were recently commissioned by the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. to create a Sensory-Friendly Folk Opera that will premiere in October 2017.
Dan Zanes and Claudia Eliaza have adopted Woodville Elementary in Richmond, Virginia.
“I am very grateful to have the chance to connect with some young people through the work of Turnaround Arts. I truly believe in the power of the arts to change lives. It’s a pleasure to have the chance to share the story of how this happened for me and to hear what’s going on with the students I’ll be in contact with over the next few years!”