Woo hoo! It’s done! It’s done! The culmination of two years of blood, sweat and tears, and one big fundraising campaign, the Be Who You Are album is now “out there” joining the children’s music conversation! You can buy the digital album download everywhere you buy music including iTunes, CDBaby and more. The physical CD is available here at our website, www.bewhoyouare.tv. I’m so thrilled with this collection of songs and spoken word pieces that promote the power of kids to change the world, and the importance of raising good people! The infectious pop-rock title track “Be Who You Are” says it all – the lyrics encourage kids to stick to their beliefs, opinions and tastes, no matter what others say. And it’s not always easy. When the pressure is on to decide how to act or dress, other people’s opinions can be overwhelmingly persuasive. But asserting your own style and living comfortably in your own skin is the key to personal success, better mental health, and overall freedom. That’s why being yourself is the lynchpin of the Be Who You Are movement! But there are lots of other crucial concepts we’re getting across here. One of my personal favorites is the message of critical thinking in the rocker “Question Everything,” sung by Ron Reyes, formerly of Black Flag. He said yes immediately when we asked him if he would sing the song, a punk anthem for not letting the status quo stand. He’s an old school rebel, and a great dad. Originally I wanted to call the song Question Authority, but Richard pointed out that parents might not want to have their authority questioned, and then wouldn’t buy the album! Point taken. “Your Toys Could Be Better” is a critique of girls’ princess toys, sung by a 7-year-old girl who has a lot of ideas for the big entertainment corporations. More on this one from me in next week’s blog, but you can check out the video here already : ) “Free” is a ballad sure to get stuck in your head. It’s a straight up pop song that describes the way we should all feel every day – free to create the world we want to see, with nothing in our way. Kids are really good at conjuring up this type of pure joy, and we really wanted to celebrate that with this song. Life drags you down in so many ways as an adult that it can be a struggle to feel this way even part time! So maybe if kids can appreciate it while they’ve got it, they’ll be able to hang on to it a little bit better as they get older. There’s a touch of the 1950’s with the Jerry Lee Lewis style to Tara’s “Fear of Love” (featuring Meher Steinberg on grand piano) and an ode to a little girl that rivals the Beach Boys layered style called “Into The Garden” with beautiful harmonies and miraculous music by Richard. He likes to tell the story that I poo-poohed his vocals on this one originally, thinking his voice was too masculine and gruff to pull off lines like “the butterflies are free to fly and the bees just buzz on by….” but I’ll deny it to the grave. Ok, I did think so at first, but now I love the way he sings it, and it still makes me cry. “Perfectly Imperfect” is an experimental dance style track by actress Cara Pifko, which has a message about messing up and how important it is to make mistakes! A critical message! It has recently become more popular to teach children that mistakes are the key to success, and I’m glad. When you walk through life on eggshells, you never get to eat the damn omelet. And what kids’ album would be complete without a ukulele? Check out “Postcard from Hawaii” performed by my awesome sister Valerie!!! It’s all about how fun it is to go traveling, which to me is an absolute necessity for real life education. If Americans traveled more, we wouldn’t be so stereotyped around the world for our embarrassing ethnocentrism. Plus, learning about new cultures infuses your brain with a heady mix of new sounds, smells, tastes and more. Kids need to know it’s possible, if not necessary. “It’s Not Fair” is a hilarious redemption song by Krista Sutton, about a kid who thinks she owns all the sand in the sandbox, only to discover it’s not so fun to play on your own. Krista plays a mean kazoo, people! Also in this vein, “How to Fly” gives kids permission to let a group dynamic become its own thing – encouraging the joy of cooperation and synthesizing ideas. “Share What You Find” suggests lots of amazing things that can be done in the world and why it’s fun to share experiences. Our excellent friend and photographer Ellen Rehak came up with the lyrics for this one, and it was really fun to collaborate on what ended up being one of my favorite pieces on the album. Finally, there are three spoken word pieces that parents can play as bedtime stories, or teachable moments. “Rosalind Peacock” is the hilarious rambling stream of consciousness of a young student who idolizes one of his classmates and then has a big realization at the end, wonderfully narrated by actor / painter Jon Rannells. Then actress Kathryn Winslow will make you weep with empathy listening to “Cojak the Cactus with no Needles“, the tale of a not-so-prickly pear cactus who becomes emotionally hardened to ward off predators. Will he find his gooey center again? Lastly, “Speak Up” is an homage to a famous poem that’s I’ve always loved, called “First They Came” by Pastor Niemoller. It’s set in 1940s Nazi Germany, and hits home the perils of not standing up for other people – because if you don’t, eventually there is no one left to stand up for you. Our play is set in a modern classroom where kids are learning the poem at the same time as bullying is affecting the their lives directly. Oh, I have so much more to say!! We have a lot of plans, with a school play in the works that teaches character, a teacher’s guide for the album itself and more! But I’ll have to save it for future blogs. Meanwhile please check out the album! You can listen to clips here or here, and if you like it – buy it! We’re going to use the first album proceeds to make freakin’ awesome T-shirts. You know you want one.