Uncle Robot: Songs for New Families
1985...an intimate club...a live album. '...Williams sings his song in a warm, sexy, wry tone, in a voice that has felt the influence of everyone from Hank Snow to John Sebastian,' writes critic Ken Tucker, now of Entertainment Weekly and radio's Fresh Air. 'First-rate compositions...' And musicians second Tucker's evaluation many times over the years, covering Karl Williams' songs on major and independent labels. Fast-forward to late 1999 and Williams' CD-single 'To the New Century,' a hard-edged anthem featuring toasts in 17 languages, is picked up by radio stations around the world, and the story of the song's travels appears in Bruce Pollock's 'Working Musicians' (HarperCollins, 2002). In 2004 one of Williams' songs for kids is aired on NBC's Sunday Today. But Karl Williams' ability as a songwriter hasn't kept him on any straight-and-narrow. Having spent most of the 70s working with kids with cognitive disabilities (the old phrase is 'mental retardation'), Williams took up a challenge from a noted author in 1985 and wrote a song especially for Speaking For Ourselves, a 'self-advocacy' group - folks with this same disability working for respect and for their civil rights. Williams' songs began to provide a kind of soundtrack for the daily struggle of those in the self-advocacy movement - across the US and in Canada and England...performed before local, regional, national, and international audiences; published in books, magazines, and on websites; translated; used in videos and plays; and earning him three ASCAP Awards. RESPECT: SONGS OF THE SELF-ADVOCACY MOVEMENT, the CD Williams produced and recorded with the US national group, was a candidate for Best Contemporary Folk Album in the 1998 Grammy Awards. Williams has continued with his popular writing - his songs picked up by publishers and songpluggers - but he's also followed his interests...and his heart. Williams' first children's CD, BIG FISH LITTLE FISH (2000), won high praise from both School Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, and was added to a program of the Jane Goodall Institute. His second album for kids, UNCLE ROBOT: SONGS FOR YOUNG FAMILIES (2003) collected the same kind of critical acclaim. With two as-told-to autobiographies (done with leaders in the self-advocacy movement); a play and a film (now in production), both based on one of these works; another play performed at this year's Philadelphia Fringe Festival; short stories presented by the Writing Aloud Series of Philadelphia's InterAct Theatre Company; an autobiographical novel (unpublished); and a recently completed third as-told-to book, this one with a graphic artist who has autism...SingOut! Magazine's comment on one of Williams' early songs might suit the man himself: 'Something of a classic...'