Wednesday, February 9, 2011

To God be the Glory

I've been thinking about this a lot, of course.   What will it be like to be the one sitting there in the audience as they announce the nominees and waiting to see if it's my name in that envelope. I'm sure my blood pressure will be sky high.   For two months I managed to be pretty cool, saying, "Well, I'm probably not going to win, but I'll get nominated again.  Now that my work has been recognized, I'll get nominated again..."
But then lately all of the people I see are saying "I know you're gonna win!" and stuff like that, and I'm beginning to worry, because of course, deep down, I really do want to take home that statue.  I want to bring it to show all my friends and family and all the people who have supported me.  I want to post pictures of it on FB so you can all see it.  I want to put it on my mantle and be able to see it every day and think, "Yeah....all these years of making music have been validated in a big way."
I want to show it to the little kids and say, "Look!  I got a trophy!"

Of course I do, it's just really hard to admit it, because then there's more of a chance of feeling bad if my name is not called.  Even just writing about it here is a risk because I'll look really stupid if they don't call my name.  So it's better just to say I don't really care.  HA.

As I said, I've been thinking about this  a lot.  The whole insanity of the I dreamed of it when I was young, and how as every year of music has gone by I have felt that I was further and further away from the possibility of it happening.  How when I turned 50 I cried all day, thinking my chance had passed and it was all downhill from there.
Every year of music....

And then it dawned on me.  Every year of my life I have had the ability and the joy of making music.  Even when I was little, before piano lessons, singing was what I did. All the time.  My father sang to me when I was a baby and a toddler in his lap, and my mother always had the radio or the stereo on and would sing in her crazy wild way. And I sang with them.  My mother bought me my first 45, "Georgy Girl," because I knew all the words from hearing it on the radio.  I sang in front of an audience for the first time on the stage in the basement of Notre Dame School in Waterville, Maine.  I sang "Those Were the Days."  (nobody ever said I probably shouldn't sing a song about a tavern in a Catholic school...ha ha!"  I have to laugh thinking of it now.)  In my teenage years I went to church with my father and during the hymns he would whisper in my ear, 'Sing louder, Judy...sing louder!" cause he just loved it when people would turn around to see who was singing, and I loved making my Daddy proud.

The point is, I can take no credit for being able to sing, to make music.  I can take no credit that writing songs came naturally to me.  I can only give God the glory.

There have been miracles in my life, for sure. I'll tell you about them sometime if you want.  But I only just recently, with all this Grammy madness, realized that the biggest miracle in my life is that I can sing.  That I can make myself and other people happy by singing, and none of it was my doing in the first place.  For whatever reason, God decided that I should be one of the lucky ones to get that ability. He gave that same ability to many of you who are reading this, and I've had the sheer joy of singing and making music with many of you. All because of God's grace.

SO whatever happens on Sunday, to God be the glory, because without God's grace, none of this would be happening. I'm not gonna pray that I win, because I don't think that's the kind of prayer God wants to hear.  I'll just be thanking Him (or Her, if you will) for what I've already got.   I want to remember that, to keep that in my heart, cause even if I come home on Monday without a trophy, I'll still be able to sing. Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In Defense of Children's Music

A few years ago I met Livingston Taylor after a show he performed at the Mall of New Hampshire.  I purchased one of his CDs and told him that I was a children's musician, to which he blithely responded, "There's no such thing as children's music. All music can be for children."  At the time I was somewhat taken aback.  After all, I've always felt that music written for children should be child-centered, with lyrics about a child's world. I don't know about you, but I don't know of too many adults who have gone bug hunting or enjoyed princess stories or used their imaginations to swim in jello unless they were with kids.  And while I do think that most music can be shared with children, and they may enjoy it, I suspect that they enjoy it more when it's about something they can relate to, just as with adults.

But lately I'm beginning to think that Livingston Taylor was prophetic, because I keep reading the blogs of children's music "pundits" who rhapsodize about children's music "that doesn't drive parents crazy" and children's music that "doesn't make parents want to pull their hair out."  And recently I had a video rejected by "" because the guy who runs it said, "I just don't see much here for the parents."  Well EXCUSE me, silly me!  I thought this was about the KIDS!!

It used to be that if  a child loved something, the parents loved it too because it made their children happy.  But now the tables have turned,.  Now, it seems, a kid can't love music unless their parents love it too.

When Emma was little someone gave her a set of cassettes by "Judy and David" that featured endless hours of traditional children's music like "The Noble Duke of York" and "Old MacDonald."  Was I crazy about them?  Not really.  But Emma LOVED them so we played them over and over until the tapes wore out.  I used to take her and Louisa to concerts by Maine's Rick Charette.  Did "Alligator in the Elevator" offer something for me?  Nothing but the pure joy of watching my kids, and hundreds of others, sing and dance around like fools.

Still, the trend in children's music today is toward music which has to appeal to parents as well, so you get a lot of "indie" rock music (now called "kindie") that makes parents feel "hip" and like they are raising cool kids who are "hip" as well. I'm not sure but I think this may have started with "KidzBop," those insidious renditions of pop songs "sanitized" and sung by kids that have sold a jillion copies.  Then along came the musicians with "rock cred" who'd had indie rock bands but had now turned to writing music for kids.   That's great!  There's room for everybody here.  But where is the variety?  Where is the gentle, foolish, silly music that only kids love? Don't kids get to have their OWN tastes?  Their OWN things that are special just for them?   It seems these hipster parents will never expose their children to "Old MacDonald" unless it's done rock-style.  Frankly, I'm a little worried about Winken, Blinken and Nod, to be honest.

I guess I'm making a case for my own music here, which has always been about the kids.  There have been some parents who have told me they love my music as much as their kids do, and while I appreciate that,  there have been some parents who have told me they are sick of hearing my music, as they laugh and say how many times they've had to listen to a particular song in a row. I'm okay with that, too.  I'm aiming at the kids, and if they love it, then I'm doing my job.

There are many wonderful children's musicians out here who are the farthest thing from "kindie" but have made zillions of children happy....people like Barry Louis Polisar, Bobby Susser, Joanie BartelsMarla Lewis, Steve BluntKatherine Dines, Mr. BillyPatricia Shih,   and many more that you can find out about at the Children's Music Network (  We can't let their art, their truly child-centered art, be lost in the "kindie" trend.  So yeah, I love rock music for kids and would probably be getting my kids into the music of Justin Roberts if they were still the right age, but we'd also be listening to the artists I mentioned above.  Because while some children's music can appeal to parents, it really shouldn't HAVE to.