Bob Norman’s Biography

Bob Norman's unusual songs, gentle wit, intricate guitar and harmonica work, and passionate singing have charmed folk audiences across the country for 27 years now. According to Pete Seeger, Bob writes “warm, wonderful, very singable songs that capture the bittersweet lives of working people in a big city—the people who will not give up hope, love, and laughter.” The son of a symphony orchestra conductor and a former editor of Sing Out!, the nation's leading folk song magazine, Bob manages to fuse such varied influences as blues, country, contemporary folk, and classical guitar into a fascinating evening's entertainment.

The Los Angeles Times has called Bob Norman “a mainstay of the folk circuit.” His multifaceted career in folk music has spanned more than 35 years. From 1970 to 1977, he was editor-in-chief of Sing Out!, then served on its board until 1990, primarily as chairman. Since 1979, he has performed in major clubs, coffeehouses, and festivals from Boston to San Diego, sharing stages with folk legends like Seeger, Tom Paxton, Richie Havens, Jack Elliott, and Dave Van Ronk and gifted younger songwriters like John Gorka, Suzanne Vega, David Massengill, Shawn Colvin, and Patty Larkin. In 1990, Norman was a finalist in the Kerrville New Folk Competition at the Columbia River Folk Festival. In 1985 he performed in and directed the music for the Off-Broadway play “Back County Crimes.” (Photo by Peter Loppacher)

A glance at some of the musicians who have performed or recorded Bob's songs reveals the range of his writing: The list includes folk patriarch Pete Seeger, the brilliant blues and gospel singer Eric Bibb, Argentinian poet and songwriter Bernardo Palombo, and midwest folk-rocker Cooker John, a recent Modern Folk winner in the Minnesota Music Awards competition. Bob's songs have appeared in the Fast Folk CD magazine and in Sing Out!, and one was used as the theme for a 1997 film called It's About Power. “Like all good songwriters,” said the New Yorker magazine, “Norman can distinguish the romantic from the sentimental; his bittersweet accounts of urban life are blissfully free of sappiness.”

Bob Norman's fourth album of original songs, Time-Takin' Man, was released by Night Owl Records in November of 2006. His most ambitious effort to date, it includes 15 new songs and a prose poem. Like his previous albums, it was produced by recording veteran Bob Rose. The Times Herald-Record of Orange County, N.Y., has called Bob's third CD, Love Lust & Lilacs, a great contribution to folk music: “Norman's songs are graceful and compelling with poetic lyrics and traditional and contemporary folk styles.” Ken Stroebel of Connecticut's Norwich Bulletin wrote of Bob's second album, To The Core: “The 11 tracks on Bob Norman's latest release are rich with imagery and ideas. Norman's songs conjure images of men huddled in bars, lighthouses shining through mist, snow covering a train yard, and wolves prowling a frozen forest.” Bob's earlier Night Owl recording, Romantic Nights on the Upper West Side, recently re-released as a CD, also met with critical acclaim. “His songs,” wrote Rebecca Turner in The Westsider, “manage to evoke the West Side's mixes of soft and hard, romantic and tough, sweet and cynical, and that heady, restless electricity that makes its summers bearable.”

Bob Norman was born in New London, Conn., the son of Victor Norman, conductor of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra. As a kid he studied piano, violin, and clarinet. With the coming of the sixties folk revival, he taught himself guitar and harmonica. At Columbia University, he played in folk, blues, and rock bands and wrote his first songs. In 1994, after 30 years in NYC, he moved to Lawrenceville, N.J., where he lives with his wife, Clara Haignere, and is working on the songs for his fifth CD.

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