Don Rosler Bio

Collage attempted by Rosler based on illustration by Maria Eugenia




Don Rosler was born in a blackout. Born, not conceived.  Mother screamed on first presentation, and they had to sedate her. Another true story. The reason he stopped playing sax in his mid-twenties? He suddenly developed an aversion to the texture of a reed in his mouth. In the spirit of “one door closes, another opens” he then shifted over to writing lyrics and songs (which spared him having to fumble through “Caravan” and “Giant Steps” at breakneck tempos). 

As a lyricist, Rosler collaborated with Linda Goldstein (the first female to win a Grammy for Record of the Year!), Roger Treece and ten-time Grammy Award winner Bobby McFerrin on 3 of 7 compositions on Bobby McFerrin: VOCAbuLarieS. VOCAbuLarieS  was nominated for three Grammy's (including in the "Classical Crossover "category). The album was conceived by Linda, and  features McFerrin, Treece and over 50 singers, including Lisa Fischer ("Rolling Stones", "Grand Baton"), Luciana Souza, Janis Siegel ("Manhattan Transfer"), the stellar ensemble singers of New York Voices, Dave Worm, Joey Blake, LaTanya Hall, Everett Bradley, among other fine singers VOCAbuLarieS  was internationally hailed as a “masterpiece”. Music critic Christopher Loudon/Jazz Times Magazine raved: "... the most compelling of these masterpieces is “Messages,” a cornucopia of languages constructed by lyricist Don Rosler that rises like a melodious Tower of Babel, exalting the incomparable beauty of universal harmony.”   

Treece and Rosler also teamed up to write a vocal take on Pat Metheny/Lyle May's "September 15th" for the "Swimming to London" album by the Grammy-Award winning King's Singers and prior to that, compositions for the L.A. Master Chorale, as well as "When Love Wins the Day" for the Chicago Children’s Choir live performances and their album "Songs of Freedom." Speaking of younger singers, Don was commissioned to perform and produce a new take on John Lennon's "Julia", as part of a massive 185 song, all-Beatles on Uke project via Dave Barrett, featuring different artists taking on each Beatle's song, and featured Don's take on "Julia" performed by Don and (at the time) 11-year old Emily O'Reilly.  


John Margolis: Christine's Refrigerator, co-written & co-produced by Don with John Margolis, was described by Singer Magazine as “a must add to any music connoisseur's collection”. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Jim Dwyer  wrote about the song in The New York Times  after the singer-songwriter Christine Lavin created a video with her fans for this beloved song.  “Christine’s Refrigerator” was awarded “Song of the Year” in 2004 by JP Folks, and a few years later was featured on the Kitchen Sisters’ “Kitchen Stories” report (NPR’s “Morning Edition”) and on their audio-book, “Hidden Kitchens.”  Another song from this CD, “Tanta Belleza (So Much Beauty)” was prominently featured, for the end credits of the HBO/Cinemax film, “The Kidnapping of Ingrid Betancourt.”   

Many other Rosler co-writes include with Jay Ward many songs on Ward’s dogbrain: nest and bonejockeys CDs; with E-Street Band member Everett Bradley “Christmas Is Kickin' In”, which kicks off Everett’s Christmas CD Toy and "Christmas Past” for Everett’s 2010 Holidelic CD; and, with Peter Valentine, the title track “To Whom It May Concern” for RIFF (on EMI), produced by Grammy-award-winning gospel great Fred Hammond. Rosler and Valentine, along with Jim Gately, continued to have success together by placing a number of songs over the years on international soundtracks on Global/Som Livre, keeping company with Sheryl Crow, Toni Braxton and Crash Test Dummies" (combined over a million sold).

Reviews & Press



"Rosler's Recording Booth"
"Bobby McFerrin: VOCAbuLarieS"
"John Margolis:
   Christine's Refrigerator" and more...

Cover art by Patrick Bucklew

"Rosler's Recording Booth", a unique concept CD, written and produced by songwriter Don Rosler, garnered\ national attention weeks before its official release, as the song “Doris from Rego Park” generated buzz on WNYC, WFAN, and in Ken Plutnicki's article, “Doris From Rego Park Lives On In Song” in The New York Times. “Doris From Rego Park,” performed by Rosler, is one of sixteen contemporary songs on Rosler’s album which features ten fantastical artists: Spottiswoode, Jeremy Sisto, Isabel Keating, Terry Radigan, John Margolis, Kathena Bryant (of The Hippy Nuts), Tam Lin, Jon Albrink, Tamara Hey and Don Rosler.  

Rosler used Wilcox-Gay Recordios & Voice-o-Graph recordings as a springboard for inspiring the concept. “There was a Voice-o-Graph record I hadn’t heard for many years, made by my Grandpa Abe and older brothers Mike and Dave when they were crammed into a recording booth at the Jolly Roger's arcade on Long Island. When I finally heard that Voice-o-Graph of them singing, and then years later a Kitchen Sister's report on NPR called ‘War and Separation,’ where they played Recordios exchanged amongst separated lovers and families, I was riveted.” Rosler continued, “I wrote these songs with some of the Recordios rolling around in my head. While I didn’t let these records dictate all of the characters or themes, they often, along with my ideas for the arrangement landscape, created some intriguing parameters.”  

"Rosler's Recording Booth" also features film & television star Jeremy Sisto's singing debut, Tony nominee & Drama Desk Award winning actress and singer, Isabel Keating (with a special guest cameo by Isabel's mother Carmen Keating, Mike Rosler, and Don’s mom, Elaine Rosler makes a cameo appearance)), and four more formidable artists: John Margolis, Tam Lin, Jon Albrink & Tamara Hey, accompanied by such virtuoso background vocalists and musicians as Jim Beard, Everett Bradley, Joshua Camp, Jim Gately, Shawn Pelton, Gary Schreiner, and Peter Valentine.  



 This recording is less a hilarious work of audio/musical theater than a touchingly poetic, expansively novelistic one. Autobiographical, fictionalized, concerned with memory and the elusiveness of time past. Don Rosler's lyrics tell the story ["Life is but a dream, I know/Have you seen that boat we used to row?"] indivisibly from his intricate, many-leveled arrangements of melodic, poignant musical compositions. Oh yeah, there's humor, there's everything -- the album is elaborately detailed, creates a world. It flows seamlessly, while rewarding attention. It's a trip." Howard Mandel, Jazz Beyond Jazz, NPR critic, Author

“...Rosler's song is all about connection: the way all those lonely voices reach out in the wee hours when they should be fast asleep.
Ken Plutnicki, New York Times 

“...ingeniously conceived...***** (5 out of 5 stars)! ”  Andy Propst, TheaterMania 

 "Very impressed with the interweaving of the authentic coin-op recordings with the new songs. ...like a theatrical production...the music is in keeping with such a performance style, and the nostagic theme wafts through the entire collection."   Alan Dein, BBC Radio 

 "Rosler has added another off-ramp on the Great American Songbook highway. Rosler's Recording Booth is a concept album that should find its way to the desk of Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. There is a great TV series in these stories and the soundtrack has been taken care of.”   Hans Werksman, Here Comes The Flood 

“Darkly surreal and often quirkily charming, Rosler’s Recording Booth is one of the most original album concepts in recent months.....You’ve probably at least heard of the hit single, Doris From Rego Park, sung by Rosler himself – Rosler sings to her gently over a hypnotic, new wave pop-tinged keyboard lullaby, almost as one would to a child. As sympathetic a portrait as Rosler paints, it evokes a crushing loneliness.  The rest of the album ranges from upbeat to downright haunting. Spottiswoode lends his rich, single-malt baritone to two cuts... Terry Radigan takes over the mic on a jauntily creepy circus tune, an understatedly chilling account of homeless through a little girl’s eyes, and a quietly optimistic wartime message home from a young woman to her family....Kathena Bryant brings a towering, soulful presence to the September song Where I’ve Been, What I’ve Done, Jeremy Sisto sings a broodingly psychedelic criminal’s tale, and Rosler himself leads the choir through a deftly orchestrated reminiscence…of singing in a choir." Lucid Culture 

“Rosler’s Recording Booth -- This concept CD that reminds me of an era of songwriting when Van Dyke Parks, Harry Nilsson, and Randy Newman were just launching their careers... It features a number of guest vocalists breathing life into 16 of Don Rosler's sumptuous songs. My favorite is this simple, acoustic guitar folk-pop ballad [“First I Draw The Sun”] featuring the sweet, clear-throated vocals of N.Y.C.-based singer Tamara Hey." Dusty Wright, Culture Clash 

“Rosler has interesting ideas about orchestration....So there are surprising combinations of instruments and tonalities, but it all works beautifully. Spottiswoode’s take on Where Do I Come In? brings it all together for me..."  Darius Rips,  Oliver di Place Blog

 "The great thing about Rosler is that he finds the universal truth  through the colorful details, like a finely etched painting.  And he's found a variety of voices for his canvas."   Kevin Scott Hall, Edge 


Bobby McFerrin: VOCAbuLarieS (featuring Roger Treece). 


  "...a formidable, magnificent album in which vocal music is taken up and lifted into a  new, brilliant and surprising, amazing sphere. .... This virtual choir, besides, was formed by singers brought together from different genres and nationalities, and so we find elements of Eastern European, Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Western classical music, along with choral-sacred echoes, African rhythms and some tinges of pop effusiveness. Odd meters, exotic percussion (played by percussionist Alex Acuña) and lyrics sung in the most varied –and strange– tongues, such as Latin, Italian, Sanskrit, Mandarin, Japanese, French, Arabic, Hebrew, English and Gaelic, give form to this collection of strange, moving songs, building up, in short, a unique masterpiece”. Miguel Bronfman, Buenos Aires Herald 

"Seven years in the making, this is a kaleidoscopic celebration of the human voice....The end result has that wow factor which signals an instant classic."   John Eyles, BB

“There is purity and bliss in the music as well as in the lyrics that were written by Don Rosler."  Jean-Claude Elias, Jordan Times 

 "...spiritually uplifting, utterly beguiling and deeply groovy . . ." – Ron Adams, The Sunday Herald. Scotland 

 "Easily McFerrin´s finest moment on record as well as his most ambitious"– Thom Jurek, All Music Guide 

"a glimpse into the future of music in the 21st century . . . VOCAbularies is Bobby McFerrin´s
masterpiece"  Brian Whistler,  Audiophile 

"...a unique masterpiece . . .don’t miss it."  The Buenos Aires Herald 

"rises like a melodious Tower of Babel, exalting the incomparable beauty of universal harmony."  Christopher Loudon, Jazz Times 

"the human voice in its purest incarnation . . . a symphonic vocal poem of oceanic purity."  Louis Séguin, Liberacion Paris 

"dream world stuff . . .delicate and complex" – Rich Scheinin, The San Jose Mercury News 

".... The result is a CD that deserves to be qualified as an absolutely outstanding recording, without hesitation. The unprecedented degree of innovation, the superlative quality of the interpretation, the universal appeal, the freshness, Bobby McFerrin’s has them all. The new recording that comes after an eight-year hiatus by the artist is a masterpiece that sets itself apart from all current production….McFerrin takes the possibilities of the human voice and choral work to new heights. The last track, "Brief Eternity", is a compelling song that could easily be included in a classical CD. There is purity and bliss in the music aswell in the lyrics that were by Don Rosler."    Jean-Claude Elias, The Jordan Times 

"one of the great discs, so far, of 2010 . . . . the most extraordinary disc Bobby McFerrin has ever made" – Jeff Simon, The Buffalo News 

"...a veritable symphony of voices" People Magazine 

"...a formidable, magnificent album in which vocal music is taken up and lifted into a  new, brilliant and surprising, amazing sphere.” BUENOS AIRES HERALD

"...HEARTSTOPPINGLY BEAUTIFUL"   Jonathan Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News 

"Easily McFerrin's Finest moment on record as well as his most ambitious."  Thom Jurek, All Music Guid


Christine's Refrigerator 

John Margolis: Christine's Refrigerator, co-written & co-produced by Don Rosler, was described by Singer Magazine as “a must add to any music connoisseur's collection”. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Jim Dwyer recently wrote about the song in The New York Times  after the singer-songwriter Christine Lavin created a video with her fans for this beloved song.  “Christine’s Refrigerator” was awarded “Song of the Year” in 2002 by JP Folks, and was featured on the Kitchen Sisters’ “Kitchen Stories” report (NPR’s “Morning Edition”) and on their audio-book, “Hidden Kitchens.”  Another song from this CD, “Tanta Belleza (So Much Beauty)” was prominently featured, for the end credits of the HBO/Cinemax film, “The Kidnapping of Ingrid Betancourt.” 

 '...the response to this has been overwhelming... It features a man by the name of John Margolis, and the song is called 'Christine's Refrigerator'... I'm just going to play it for you... a moving, interesting...meaningful, beautiful piece of music…” -- Jonathan Schwartz, WNYC (NPR)  

“Experiencing 'Christine's Refrigerator' is one great adventure…” — Bob Telson, Academy, Tony and Grammy-award nominee, composer of 'Calling You' from 'Bagdad Cafe'  

“Sometimes funny, often heart breaking, always brilliant... I feel like my ears just received a big jolt of innocence. Superb all the way! --Alain Mallet, producer., Jonatha Brooke  

“Christine's Refrigerator” is filled with lovely, soulful, delicious art.”  -- Hugh Prestwood, writer of 'The Song Remembers When' for Trisha Yearwood, 'Ghost in This House’.

Click to read article in "More Press"

Wanna know which internationally renowned illustrator won an "American Illustrator's Award" for this drawing, which you'll find within her video "Where Do I Come In", a song from "Rosler's Recording Booth"? Click to our video page.


You can see Maria Eugenia's Video of "Where Do I Come In" here! And stay tuned for a proper presentation of the illustration from this very video that won an American Illustrator's award.. Ifyou can guess which one, 15 CDs on me!

"Dark, snarky groove six feet deep in gallow's humor"

Don with Emily Bindiger: "Julia"

Click here to hear the world-renowned Chicago Children's Choir. Check out "When Love Wins the Day" performed live, and also recorded for their "Songs of Freedom" album.

This is Jeremy Sisto, slumming it (after playing Christ, before "Law & Order" and after "FBI". He's on the Booth album singing "Halfway Honest Living" with Peter Valentine & the Valentines. Check out Maria Eugenia's 2nd video for the booth album, based on this song. And get this, the song runs less than 2 minutes, which was good news for Maria (how many brilliant illustrations can she do a video))