Most of my life I have earned my living by writing books and newspaper columns. Since the age of eight, I’ve played a stringed instrument – first a ukulele and then a guitar.
One was work, and one was play.
A few years, ago something unexpected happened: the two sides of my life merged. Having written stories for the page of many years (long stories, short stories, for children of all ages, for teens), I found myself writing them to music.
These days I write for the page now and then, but my daily work and creative energy has been going into songs and performance.
My career as a songwriter and singer has taken me musical and literary festivals around the world, to theatres and folk clubs. I’ve taken a one-man show of songs and stories to the Edinburgh Festival and in 2022 I launched a musical celebration/investigation into ageing in the 21st century, called The Shock of the Old. I am currently taking it around theatres, clubs and festivals.
Since 2012, I have released five albums of my songs, Lovely Little Games (‘Brilliant,’ The Word), Sometimes Your Face Don’t Fit (‘Very funny,’ Acoustic Magazine), Enough About Me (‘It put a big smile on my face,’ Tom Robinson, BBC6 Music) and Playing For Time (‘Classic folk blues in the making,’ Fatea Magazine). Recorded in southern Italy, Playing For Time was selected by the Sunday Times as one of its Top 100 Albums of 2020.
My latest album Meanwhile…, produced by Lukas Drinkwater, was released in December 2022. RnR magazine called it ‘clever, engaging, urbane’, while folking.com commented, There’s a brilliance in the music on Blacker’s album which we miss, or underestimate, at our peril.’
On the radio, I have written and presented a documentary series about the history of politically incorrect music called Taboo-Be-Do! For BBC Radio 4, and one sang my version of Noel Coward’s ‘Bad Times Are Just Around the Corner’ on the day before an election of Radio 4’s news programme The World At One.
As an author, I have written five novels, many children’s books – including the Ms Wiz series and Boy2Girl, which have been published in many languages around the world. My biography of Willie Donaldson You Cannot Live As I Have Lived and Not End Up Like This was BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week.
My most recent book for young readers Racing Manhattan (2016) was described by the Wall Street Journal as ‘terrific – a winner’.
I was for 16 years a weekly and sometimes twice-weekly op-ed columnist for the Independent.