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Aaron Nigel Smith has been actively involved with children and music in many different ways other than being a performer, such as teaching, starting an arts program, and appearing on a children’s television program. In this interview, he shares what he valued about libraries growing up and what it was like to work with Ziggy Marley, son of Bob Marley. Aaron’s responses have been edited for clarity and/or length.
What made you decide to write music for children and families?
After teaching my first pre-school music class, I knew that I wanted to write family music.
Your work, such as being on PBS’ Between the Lions program and performing at libraries, helps connect music, literacy, and reading. How have libraries or librarians been an influence in your life or your music career?
Libraries always gave me a sense of freedom when I was a young child. We moved around a lot when I was a kid. One of the first things I would do when we moved to town was get a library card. Since appearing on Between the Lions, I have been welcomed to perform at many libraries all around the country. I would say [that] close to 50% of my shows each year are not at libraries or affiliated with a library.
Can you tell us about the arts program you founded in 2002, FUNdamentals of Music and Movement? What inspired you to get that started at that time?
FUNdamentals of Music and Movement is how I entered the world of children's music. After having children of our own, [my] wife Diedre and I felt a strong desire to give them and their communities the best possible experiences with music and movement. We formed FUNdamentals . . . and it quickly grew in the Los Angeles area. We now serve children at over 100 schools around the nation.
Q: You worked with Ziggy Marley on the Bob Marley children’s CD B is for Bob. What was that experience like?
Working with Ziggy Marley was a truly monumental experience. My son Zion and some of his friends from school had the opportunity to sing on Bob Marley master tracks, right along with Bob. I taught them the arrangements and directed them during the sessions along with Ziggy and his team. It was so much fun!
Check out Aaron singing “Animal Song” on YouTube:
Find more of his music in the San Mateo County Library catalog.
- Saturday, October 26th at 11 am, East Palo Alto Library (San Mateo County)
- Saturday, October 26th at 3 pm, Western Addition Branch Library (San Francisco)
- Sunday, October 27th at 10:30 am, Millbrae Library (San Mateo County)
- Sunday, October 27th at 3 pm, Koret Auditorium in the Main Library (San Francisco)
Jessica Chung is a MLIS student and an intern for the San Mateo County Library.