Willie Sterba Bios - the long and the short of it.
Bio - Short Version
Willie has been delighting audiences with his music since 1986. His CDs for children, Chickens in my Hair, The Dog Wants Chips, and Reindeer Jamboree are family favorites. Many people remember his family program, "Dancing Dog Radio," that was on air for six years and syndicated in four states.
In December 2003, he released his CD, Where Will I Get The Courage. These are songs for adults about love and courage - including some songs he wrote while volunteering for 6 months in South Africa.
Willie holds a Masters in Education and, as a children's singer, he is committed to music and entertainment that is fun and respectful of the dignity and goodness in each person.
Bio - Not-So-Short Version
Music for me started way back. I seem to have always been a whistler and a 'maker-up' of goofy little tunes. I can still recall the Elvis songs I 'mertalized' in order to make my older brother Tony laugh. And then there was the song for my pet chameleon, Hursafurd. I still remember it, and I'm still amazed how dumb it was ... or is.
Mom and Dad gave me a Stella guitar for Christmas 1963, I was 14. I knew they wanted to help me out because I was stuck in my shell. Tony had died in a car crash and I was lost. I took lessons for a while, but I just couldn't make it work - so I quit.
Then magic happened. The summer of '64 we were in Door County on vacation and I met a guy named Danny. He was playing a brand new Martin guitar singing Beach Boys, folk songs, coolsongs. There were kids on the beach, campfires - and I was beginning to summon the courage to talk to girls. His music and that summer lit a fire in me.
That Christmas of 1964 Dad gave me my Gibson J-50 guitar. As soon as we had come back from our summer vacation, I started playing up a storm - buying Kingston Trio albums and songbooks, teaching myself. I just loved it. I actually put a dent in the side of my bed from sitting there playing for hours and hours.
A few months before my Dad died in 2001, I asked him why, when he always looked "for a good used" whatever, why he bought me such a fine brand new guitar that Christmas of '64. He smiled and told me, "Well, I knew you were serious about your music. I knew you should have a good instrument." I still have it. Still play it. Thanks, Pop.
I started playing coffee houses in college and just loved it. I was terrified by it, too, with fears, doubts. I quit once for a year when I 'failed' an audition at It's Here in Chicago. I was told that my singing was flat. I took it as if I was told I was too short and couldn't change. I finally took voice lessons and I always smile when someone tells me how well I sing.
In 1972, Diane and I got married and moved to California where I finished school and we worked at The Ojai Valley School for 11 wonderful years. Music stayed in the background until we started having children. I wrote a song for Bodin before he was born. Anika and Katrina also have songs written in waiting. And then the songs just began pouring out.
I started playing at our kids' school and at libraries. Requests for a recording started me wishing, then thinking, then planning. If Raffi could do it - and do it so well - why couldn't I?
So in 1986 we left California and moved to Wisconsin where for 9 amazing years I did my music for children and families full time. During this period I produced and recorded Chickens in my Hair, The Dog Wants Chips, and Reindeer Jamboree.
I also produced the family program, Dancing Dog Radio, that was syndicated in four states and was on the air for six years. Everyone in the family had parts: Diane - The Story Lady, Bodin - The Dancing Dog, Anika - Rita Rocket, and Katrina - The Joke Buglet. It was great fun. Yes - it was really corny in parts, but "The Amazing Adventures of Mac & Joe" was pure genius. Perhaps I should say ... it was awfully good.
2003 saw another dream come true - making a CD for adults. While Di, Kat and I were in South Africa January - June 2003, I became inspired to make this recording. We were volunteering at Inanda Seminary in Durban. Our letters from this adventure are included on this site. It was here I wrote 6 songs, two of which are on this CD.
Making Where Will I Get The Courage was great fun. I was lucky enough to have my son, Bodin - an excellent drummer, perform all the drums and percussion before he and Katy Wick, now his sweet wife, moved to California. My daughter, Anika, took the superb photographs for the cover and interiors. Kristin Mitchell produced an exceptional design. The other outstanding players, as well as Jake Johnson of Paradyme Productions in Madison, made the whole thing just fly. It was so much fun working with all of these people.
I still love singing for children, and in an age of wars and fear, it is something I do to help give them hope and courage. And my music for adults in clubs and churches is part of my passion to help repair the world with my music.
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