Bobby Susser

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Bobby Susser
Bobby Susser in recording studio November 5, 2010.jpeg
Bobby Susser in recording studio November 5, 2010
Background information
Birth name Robert Howard Susser
Born (1942-07-18) July 18, 1942 (age 72)
Origin New York City, New York, United States
Genres Children's music, rhythm and blues, novelty songs, pop music
Occupations Songwriter, record producer, performer
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1962–present
Labels Amy Records, United Artists Records, Veep Records, Laurie Records, Susser Records, New Hope Records
Website http://www.bobbysusser.com

Bobby Susser (born Robert Howard Susser, July 18, 1942), and also known as Bob Susser, is a multi-award winning, American songwriter, record producer, and performer, best known for his young children's music. Among some of his several honors, he is the recipient of the "Distinguished Alumni Award" for his life's work, awarded from Teachers College, Columbia University.[1] Susser has sold over 5 million children's albums.[2]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Born in New York City, to middle class Jewish American parents, (His father, of German descent, was a factory supervisor, while his mother, of Hungarian descent, was a housewife), in the borough of Manhattan, Susser grew up in the borough of Queens, and attended Jamaica High School. He was a baseball pitcher and was honored by New York City as its "Most Valuable Player" within The New York City Baseball Federation League, 1957.[3][4] During his high school years, he wrote songs for some of his favorite artists, such as Dion and The Drifters. But, at the time, all of his attempts to reach these artists were unsuccessful. Four decades later, in 1998, Ben E. King, lead singer of the Drifters, recorded an entire award winning collection of Susser's children's songs titled, "I Have Songs In My Pocket".[5] Susser graduated from Queens College, City University of New York, Magna cum laude, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications. He received a Master's degree in communications in early childhood education from Teachers College, Columbia University, where he studied with Canadian scholar, and communication theorist, Marshall McLuhan.[5] In 1961 he received an honorable discharge for serving in the United States Army.

1960s and 1970s[edit]

After producing four singles in 1961, and 1962 with his childhood friend Paul Simon, for the group Tico and The Triumphs, which included Susser's first Billboard Hot 100 chart record "Motorcycle," on Amy Records, he concentrated on writing and producing rhythm and blues songs. He spent most of his days in New York's famous Brill Building, attempting to place his songs with music publishers, and receive advance monies, with the hope his songs would be recorded by popular recording artists. In 1963, he wrote, produced, and sold the master recording of the song "Kiss Me Now", sung by Florence DeVore, to Phil Spector. The record was the first release on Spector's new Philles Records subsidiary label, Phi-Dan Records, and received a great deal of critical praise, and interest within the music industry.[6][7]

From 1965 through 1973, he continued to write and produce songs for Florence DeVore, as well as for, Sharon Redd, Lily Fields, Mamie Lee, Morgana King, Robert John, and Trini Lopez. While he published most of his new songs, the older ones that he had placed with other music publishers were beginning to get recorded, and show some activity. But, in 1971 he wrote and produced the controversial song "Once You Understand" on Laurie Records, sung by his own studio group, Think. After being banned from radio stations in several major cities, the anti-drug, novelty song sold 1.4 million records in the United States.[8][9] The song was also a top 5 hit in England and Germany, and later was sampled and covered by artists Biz Markie, Acen, 4 Hero, and De La Soul.[10][11]

Susser started receiving letters from churches, synagogues, and schools inviting him to play his song and talk with teenagers about its anti-drug message. This gave him a new direction and purpose, and he started to write and produce songs and activities for children, ages 4 through 8. He registered the name, Bobby Susser Songs For Children, and the series began. Titles from the early 1970s include "Learning Basic Awareness Through Music," "Pre-Physical Education Through Music," "Pre-Square Dance," "Let's Act As Consumers," and his series for young pre-readers, Doctor Alphabet.[12] In 1976, Diana Ross recorded "Kiss Me Now",[13] on her second, self-titled album.

1980s and 1990s[edit]

The Bobby Susser Logo Shot, 1996.

During the 1980s, he visited schools with his young children's songs. At that same time he also wrote and produced songs for his own pop, studio group, The Bobby Susser Generation. But he left that project, and went back to his first love, writing and producing young children's music. He continued to appear in schools with songs and activities for his very young, early childhood audiences. In 1992, he formed a new record company, New Hope Records, in order to administer the distribution, sales, and license rights of his recordings. He wrote and produced songs for thematic albums, and by 1996 they had become some of the most popular young children's songs and recordings ever used in day care centers, schools, churches, synagogues, and homes.[14] He created The Bobby Susser Singers, The Bobby Susser Children's Chorus, and a logo caricature of himself, drawn from a photograph, for his series, "Bobby Susser Songs For Children", ages 2 through 8. Michael Green, was often the lead male vocalist, and Deanna Jones, was often the lead female vocalist on several of the early recordings within this series.[15] By 1998, Susser broadened his guest list of vocalists, and began working with a greater variety of adult and children singers who joined him, and made guest appearances on his song series for young children. He continued to make changes in his personnel of singers and players depending upon the song, style, and subject matter, without ever losing his unique and popular, vocal and musical touches that are undoubtedly recognizable in the world of young children's music and songs.[16] In the year of 1999, he went back to visit young children's classrooms and lectured on the subject of young children's songs.

2000s[edit]

From 2002 through 2004, he wrote, recorded, and added four new collections to his young children's series (I Need You and You Need Me, Respect and Confidence, Early Learning Sing-Along, and My Day/In Motion and Play), and received a Parents' Choice Award for the first three.[17] In June 2008, Susser released the collection of original young children's songs All Roads Leads To Home.[18] One review stated, "All Roads Lead To Home is a very solid choice to use with preschoolers, and its additional song, '70 (Bringin' It Home To You)', for all ages, makes for a wider family appeal"[19] and another said, "All Roads Lead To Home" is headed for the group of classic and standard young children's recordings."[20]

In February 2009, Susser's children's series surpassed 5 million albums sold.[2] In September 2009, Susser released AMERICA: An Album For All Ages. By December, the new album received Dr.Toy's Best Audio-Video-CD Product Award for 2009,[21] and was cited as "An American Treasure Of Songs."[22]

2010s[edit]

On April 22, 2010, AMERICA: An Album For All Ages, was designated a 2010 Parents' Choice Award winner.[23]

In the spring of 2011 Susser embarked on a library tour, visiting children's libraries throughout The United States. Susser said he planned to make it "somewhat of an 'ongoing tour', and I will continue to write songs, and record them."[24] But in an interview with eplay he stated that as of July 2011 he had to cancel touring indefinitely due to a neck injury. He returned to the recording studio, and at the end of December 2011 Susser completed his 25th album for children of all ages. He titled the collection of 12 new songs, WO![25]

WO! album cover.

The new album was released on April 3, 2012, and the press responded very favorably, by noting, " WO! is a magnificent collection of songs for children of all ages, from a magnificent children's song man",[26] and, "In the past forty years, Bobby Susser has recorded some of the best children's albums, and his work gets better with each one. WO! is no exception. It is his 25th children's album, and his finest to date. WO! should be a favorite, and a sure classic, for children of all ages."[27] School Library Journal wrote that Susser "has outdone himself."[28]

On February 8, 2013, it was announced, that Susser will be a recipient of the prestigious, Teachers College, Columbia University, 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award, for his work, as a renowned, American songwriter, performer, and record producer, joining notables, and previous recipients, of Columbia's Distinguished and Service awards, global economist, Jeffrey Sachs, and congresswoman, Shirley Chisolm. On April 13, 2013, at Teachers College, Columbia University, Susser was honored and introduced by, Professor of History and Education, and scholar, Robbie McClintock, Ph.D, and President of the College, Dr. Susan Fuhrman. He was officially awarded the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award, for his life's work, and his name was permanently engraved, on the wall, in the main hallway, of the college. In Susser's acceptance speech, he stated, "Teaching children through songs, in addition to entertaining, always appealed to me. This incredible honor, reinforces my commitment to educating, and entertaining children through music and songs."[29] In June 2014, Susser, along with producers Kevin Mackie and Krista Wallinger, won the 13th annual Independent Music Awards in the Best Spoken Word (with music accompaniment) Category for "ACTION MOVES PEOPLE." The album's proceeds go to benefit MOVE THIS WORLD charity, which is a global nonprofit that uses creative movement to address and transform conflict and violence in communities worldwide.[30]


Other contributions and accolades[edit]

He has also written, produced, performed, and contributed the official theme song "Bikewell Bear And St. Jude," for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Billboard Magazine said that "Bobby Susser is unusually prolific and consistently does excellent work."[31] Manhattan School of Music has stated, "Bobby Susser has the rare ability to return to childhood at will. He is a master at communicating, teaching, entertaining, and stimulating young children through his believable and original songs."[32] Early Childhood News says, "Bobby Susser is unlike other children's musical artists in that he writes for them (the children), not for himself. He knows what catches their imaginations, and he brings that sensitive awareness to his very enjoyable songs."[33]

As a writer, Bobby Susser wrote:

  • The educational papers, "Implications of Rearing and Educating Children," 1975 and 1976; (Columbia University Press)
  • "The Lollipop Music Theory," 2003 (found on his web site and Dr.Toy's web site - see external links)
  • "Choosing Songs for Children," 2004 (found on his web site and Dr. Toy's web site - see external links)
  • Activities, purpose and parent/teacher notes for every title in the series "Bobby Susser Songs for Children."

Personal life[edit]

Susser is a longtime resident of Long Island and lives by the bay with his wife, Jan, who is a school teacher. Susser has one married son, two married daughters, and eight grandchildren. He loves baseball and watches the New York Yankees whenever he can.[18]

Discography[edit]

Most popular children's albums[edit]

  • We Are Better Together (Produced And Written, 1994)
  • The Album For All Seasons (Produced And Written, 1995)
  • Wiggle Wiggle and Other Exercises (Produced And Written, 1996). Often referred to as "the benchmark collection of young children's exercise songs."[34]
  • Animals At The Zoo (Produced And Written, 1997)
  • I Have Songs In My Pocket (Produced And Written, 1998)
  • I Need You And You Need Me (Produced And Written, 2002)
  • Respect And Confidence (Produced And Written, 2002)
  • Early Learning Sing-Along (Produced And Written, 2003)
  • My Day/In Motion And Play (Produced And Written, 2004)
  • All Roads Lead To Home (Produced And Written, 2008). Includes the song, "70 (Bringin' It Home To You)."
  • AMERICA: An Album For All Ages (Produced And Written, 2009). Includes the singles, "America", and "Dancing In The USA."
  • WO! (Produced And Written, 2012). Includes the singles, "Any Time Of Day", and "The Wo Wo Song."

Other albums[edit]

  • Encounter (Produced And Written, 1971)
  • Learning Basic Awareness Through Music (Produced And Written, 1972)
  • Pre-Physical Education Through Music (Produced And Written, 1972)
  • Pre-Square Dance Music (Produced And Written, 1972)
  • Let's Act (Produced And Written, 1972)
  • Pre-Driver's Education Through Music (Produced And Written, 1973)
  • Learning Responsibility Through Music (Produced And Written, 1973)
  • Let's Act As Consumers (Produced And Written, 1973)
  • Motivating Thought Processes Through Music (Produced And Written, 1973)
  • Doctor Alphabet (Produced And Written, 1974)
  • Growing Up With A Song (Produced And Written, 1992)
  • Songs For Your Day (Produced And Written, 1992)
  • Everybody Needs Somebody (Produced And Written, 1993)
  • Action Moves People (Produced, Written, And Performed, 2013)

Most popular children's singles[edit]

  • Wiggle Wiggle, The Bobby Susser Singers (Produced And Written, 1996)
  • A Trip To The Zoo, The Bobby Susser Singers (Produced And Written, 1997)
  • Baseball, Baseball, The Bobby Susser Singers (Produced And Written, 1995)
  • The Wo Wo Song, The Bobby Susser Singers (Produced And Written, 2013)

Singles[edit]

  • I Don't Believe Them, Tico And The Triumphs (Produced, 1961)
  • Motorcycle, Tico And The Triumphs (Produced, 1961)
  • Wildflower, Tico And The Triumphs (Produced, 1962)
  • Express Train, Tico And The Triumphs (Produced, 1962)
  • Cry Lil Boy, Cry, Tico And The Triumphs (Produced, 1962)
  • Get Up And Do The Wobble, Tico And The Triumphs (Produced 1962)
  • Kiss Me Now, Florence DeVore (Produced And Written, 1965)
  • We're Not Old Enough, Florence DeVore (Produced And Written, 1965)
  • The Guy Next Door, Florence DeVore (Produced And Written, 1966)
  • That Tangerine, The Troys (Written, 1966)
  • Up To Now, Trini Lopez (Written, 1967)
  • Gotta Fit You Into My Life, The Troys (Written, 1967)
  • I Can Feel Him Slipping Away, Mamie Lee (Written, 1967)
  • Half As Much, Sharon Redd (Produced, 1968)
  • Do You Want Me?, Sharon Redd (Produced And Written, 1968)
  • I've Got A Feeling, Sharon Redd (Produced And Written, 1968)
  • Since I Lost You, Sharon Redd (Produced And Written, 1968)
  • Once You Understand, Think (Produced And Written, 1971)
  • It's Not The World, It's The People, Think (Produced And Written, 1972)
  • He Doesn't Love You, Florence DeVore (Produced And Written, 1972)
  • He's Got The Money Bags, Florence DeVore (Produced And Written, 1972)
  • It Takes A Lot Of Love To Love Me, Florence DeVore (Produced And Written, 1973)
  • Look Out, Florence DeVore (Produced And Written, 1973)
  • All That I Know, The Bobby Susser Generation (Produced And Written, 1982)
  • All Roads Lead To Home, The Bobby Susser Singers (Produced And Written, 2008)
  • America, The Bobby Susser Singers (Produced And Written, 2009)
  • Dancing In The USA, The Bobby Susser Singers (Produced And Written, 2010)
  • Smiling Face, The Bobby Susser Singers (Produced And Written, 2012)
  • Any Time Of Day, The Bobby Susser Singers (Produced And Written, 2013)
  • The Wo Wo Song, The Bobby Susser Singers (Produced And Written, 2013)

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • 2014 Independent Music Awards, Best Spoken Word Album (with music accompaniment). "Action Moves People."
  • 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award, Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Parents' Choice Award (6 times) for his ongoing series "Bobby Susser Songs For Children."
  • Early Childhood News Directors' Choice Award (6 times)
  • Dr.Toy/Institute for Childhood Resources 100 Best Children's Products Award (8 times), 10 Best Audio-Video Products Award (7 times), Best Classic Products Award (2 times), 10 Best Socially Responsible Products Award (3 times), Best Children's Vacation Products Award (2 times).

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.tc.columbia.edu/admin/125/festival.asp?id=8965
  2. ^ a b Educational Dealer magazine, April, 2009, Industry news section.
  3. ^ The Long Island Press, New York, November 4, 1957, Sports section.
  4. ^ The Daily News, New York, November 12, 1957.
  5. ^ a b Billboard Magazine, July 18, 1998, page 96.
  6. ^ Billboard Magazine, November, 1964.
  7. ^ Ribowski, Mark, He's A Rebel: Phil Spector, New York: E.P.Dutton, 1989, page 310.
  8. ^ Billboard Magazine, March 25, 1971, page 84.
  9. ^ Joel Whitburn, "The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits." 7th edn, 2004, page 629.
  10. ^ http://ibeatbox.com/?p=28
  11. ^ 4hero
  12. ^ Record World magazine, September 1975, Children's section, page 46.
  13. ^ Billboard Magazine, April 5, 1976, Page 56.
  14. ^ edplay magazine, January 1997.
  15. ^ Early Childhood News magazine, editor, Fall, 1997, page 12.
  16. ^ Parentguide, November 1999, editor, page 16.
  17. ^ http://parents-choice.org/
  18. ^ a b Educational Dealer magazine, October 2008, Industry news section, page 38.
  19. ^ School Library Journal, September 2008, Dayton Metro Library, OH.
  20. ^ Parentguide, August 2008, editor, page 23.
  21. ^ http://drtoy.com/main/index.html
  22. ^ Amazon.com review, December 11, 2009.
  23. ^ http://parents-choice.org/allawards.cfm
  24. ^ Educational Dealer magazine, January 2011, Industry news section.
  25. ^ edplay magazine, January, 2012.
  26. ^ Parentguide, April, 2012.
  27. ^ Educational Dealer magazine, April 2012, Industry news section.
  28. ^ http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/slj/home/895074-312/wo_bobby_susser_songs_for.html.csp
  29. ^ http://www.tc.columbia.edu/admin/125/festival.asp?id=8965
  30. ^ http://www.tc.columbia.edu/future/index.asp?Id=Our+Stories&Info=The+Power+of+Giving&start=0&CategoryID=321&ArticleID=9574
  31. ^ Billboard Magazine, March 23, 1996, Page 64.
  32. ^ In a class introduction by John Abbott at the Manhattan School of Music, 1994.
  33. ^ Early Childhood News magazine, Editor, Fall, 1996, page 12.
  34. ^ Amazon.com review, October 23, 2005.

External links[edit]