What do religion, philosophy, and children’s music have in common? The answer is Justin Roberts ’92, who created a synoptic major on the philosophy of religion then went on to become a two-time Grammy-nominated “kindie” rock star.
Roberts, whose nine children’s albums have garnered critical acclaim, said he doesn’t try to write songs with lessons in them, but he draws on the existential moments of life for his themes. “School’s Out,” for example, focuses on the excitation of the last day of school, but also the sadness that comes from time passing. And some of his songs, such as “Red Birds,” which hints at loss and healing, he maintains, would be just as at home on an adult album as one aimed a children ages 2 to 8.
Roberts credits Religious Studies Professor Emeritus Donald Rogan, Philosophy Associate Professor Juan DePascuale, and Religious Studies Professor Vernon Schubel with helping him explore his many interests beyond music. In fact, he said he created his synoptic major so he could take more classes with them because he was so inspired by their teaching styles.
“I think there’s a world view that comes across in some songs. I was very informed by my time at Kenyon,” he said. “It was a time in my life that I feel like I became the adult I am.”