James V. Brown Library to host singer-songwriter

The James V. Brown Library will host a free family show featuring singer-songwriter Ellis Paul at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 8 in the Rotunda Room, 19 E. Fourth St.

Paul will perform songs from his two award-winning children’s albums, “The Dragonfly Races” and “The Hero in You.”

Paul has received 14 Boston Music Awards during his 20-year career. He made 16 CDs, a concert DVD and a book of poems and short stories. His work has been featured on documentary soundtracks, television shows and films such as “Hall Pass,” “Me, Myself and Irene” and “Shallow Hal.”

Paul performs nearly 150 tour dates each year around the world and has shared the stage with Pete Seeger, John Mayer, Arlo Guthrie, Richie Havens, Dar Williams, Shawn Colvin, and multi-platinum band Sugarland, among others.

“The Hero in You” features 12 American heroes such as Rosa Parks, Woody Guthrie, Jackie Robinson, Thomas Edison and more. This release won the Gold Parents’ Choice Award, the top honor awarded in family music.

“The Hero in You” serves as a follow up to “The Dragonfly Races,” his first family album, which was a Silver Parents’ Choice Award winner and was honored by National Public Radio as a “Top 10” pick for children’s music.

Paul said he performs about 30 to 40 children’s shows each year.

Although primarily known as a folk singer, he began writing children’s songs when his two daughters now 8 and 6 years old were younger.

His inspiration was the “Schoolhouse Rock” songs from the 1970s that featured an educational component to the catchy tunes.

“I try to get the parents involved as much as possible,” Paul said. “Sometimes I tell stories and talk about who the songs are about, other times there’s choreography.”

Although Paul has played anywhere from Carnegie Hall to large concert venues to someone’s home, he said it doesn’t matter where he’s playing, as long as people are having fun.

“I wish more libraries would do more children’s programming,” he said. “It’s a really good way for parents to come together and bond with their child and do things that are fun.”

Paul is working on another children’s album, which will either be about historical events or a sequel to “The Hero in You.”

He was approached by the library about the performance because Robin Glossner, development director at the library, is a fan of his music.

“I first discovered him through my son, Andy, who brought home a copy of one of the CDs from when Ellis used to play at Hamilton College,” Glossner said. “To me, it’s all about the lyrics my daughter, Kate, and I enjoy going to his shows and concerts when we can.”

Glossner said that as a fan, she receives Paul’s newsletter, and one particular issue mentioned that he was looking to play at libraries and other venues to promote his children’s CDs. Being a natural fit for the James V. Brown Library, Glossner reached out. It took several months to work around Paul’s travel schedule, but the June date finally emerged. With the support of the Friends of the James V. Brown Library, the event is being offered for free to families.

She hopes that families will enjoy Paul’s folksy style, including one of her favorites from his first children’s album, “Road Trip,” and “Working Man,” from the “Heroes” album, which is about one of Paul’s heroes, Woody Guthrie.

“The room can fit 100 kids, and I want it full,” Glossner said.

For more information, visit or call the library at 326-0356.