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A political and environmental awareness lies at the root of the songs by Vermont-based singer-songwriter Jon Gailmor. However, his best tunes are aimed at the younger members of his audience. The host of a children's music radio show, Just Kiddin, broadcast by WDEV in Vermont since 1979, Gailmor has sung witty tunes about circus animals ("Jumbo the Elephant"), dogs who pursue an education ("Randy and Ned Go to School"), the joys of sandboxes ("Dirt!"), the suburbanizing of America ("Edifice Complex") and international brotherhood ("Letters").
Gailmor spent his early years in Ossining, New York, moved with his family to a suburb of Philadelphia at the age of four and Connecticut at the age of 14. Much of his political consciousness was inherited from his father, William Gailmor, a reporter for The Daily News and PM magazine and a radio talk show host who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. The folk music of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and Josh White was heard regularly in the Gailmor home; Gailmor's sister, Wendy Newton, also went on to found and manage the Green Linnet record label.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor's degree in sociology in 1970, Gailmor turned to music, performing in a duo with fellow singer/songwriter Rob Carlson. Although the duo recorded an album, Peaceful Kingdom, released by Polydor in 1973, he was frustrated by the album's overproduced sound and by the label's plans to market the duo as the "next Seals and Crofts." Turning his back to music, he traveled to Europe, where he spent two years busking in the streets and making his living by crafting inexpensive jewelry.
Returning to the United States, Gailmor began to perform as a soloist. In 1978, he released an adult-oriented solo album, Passing Through. The turning point in his career came the following year when he began performing for youngsters. Although his radio show was intended as a one-time project, it proved so successful that it was expanded into a weekly show that continues to be aired two decades later. Gailmor's first album that included children's songs, Gonna Die with a Smile, was released in 1979. His most successful recording, Dirt!, included the title track which received an honorary mention as Best Children's Song from the National Academy of Independent Record Distributors in 1984.
Gailmor's subsequent releases have been directed at both adults and children. His 1987 album Generations and his 1995 album Childish Eyes, were inspired by his and his wife Cathy's experiences as the parents of three children (Aaron, Maya and Michaela).