Sunday, February 14, 2010
I heart NYC. It's not just the big lights, towering buildings and adorable boutiques on every street corner. There's just something inspiring about a city where artistic and musical dreams are brought to life. With its lively and imaginative spirit, it's no surprise that some of the best children's music should hail from the Big Apple.
City girl Joanie Leeds is one such shining star that stands out from the kindie crowd.
Joanie discovered her passion for music at the tender age of 2, after belting "Tomorrow" from the musical Annie at her birthday party. The guests were astonished with her natural-born talent, and she honed her craft with various musical activities throughout her school years. Joanie moved from Miami to New York to earn her B.F.A. in drama and musical theater at Syracuse University. She began her career as a singer/songwriter in the ubiquitous NYC nightclub circuit, going through a series of "dead end" jobs to stay afloat. Quite serendipitously, a friend suggested that she work with children at a Manhattan Gymboree, where she could earn a more fulfilling living singing with kids. Once she saw the joy that families shared while listening to her music, Joanie knew that she had found her true calling. The rest, they say is history.
After releasing two adult albums, My Job Application Knows More About Me Than You Do in 2000 and Soul From My Footsteps in 2004, Joanie shifted completely to children's music. Her first family album, City Kid, was released in 2008 and earned great critical acclaim, including a Parent's Choice Recommended Award. She released a holiday album, Challah, Challah shortly thereafter in 2009. Joanie's third children's CD, I'm A Rock Star, due out next month, showcases sophisticated, catchy tunes with themes of environmental friendliness, cultural and musical diversity, responsibility, expressing feelings and of course...having fun!
1. I'm A Rock Star
3. More Cowbell
4. I Wanna Be Green
5. Give Me A Hug
6. Jump, Jump
7. I Like Jazz
9. En Espanol
10. It Was The Elf
11. Joanie Says
12. Put A Little Smile On Your Face
13. Goodbye, Goodbye
From the very first track, I knew we had uncovered something special. Joanie has a crisp, polished voice with a big range. Think of a soaring soprano reminiscent of Martina McBride but with the crossover appeal of Michelle Branch. This girl's got the goods.
The potpourri of genres on the album exposes kids to country-rock ("I'm A Rockstar"), pop ("Joanie Says"), folk ("I Wanna Be Green), alt-rock ("Jump Jump"), swing ("Popcorn"), electronica ("More Cowbell"), comedy ("It Was The Elf") - even jazz ("I Love Jazz") and latin ("En Espanol"). Every song has its own unique sound and keeps things interesting and exciting. I anticipated each track, eager to hear what she had come up with next. Joanie comes off like a cool big sister, one you want to emulate and can look up to. She's funny - without being overly jokey - and sweet and well...everything nice.
My personal favorite on the album was the soft, acoustic lullaby, "Give Me A Hug". I have probably listened to this darling song more than twenty times over the past week. It's just so mushy and comforting - perfect for the Valentine's season. I also liked the breezy, country song "Sunglasses" and the alphabet-laced "I Love Jazz", where the smooth horns and hiss of the high hat made me break out the jazz hands (yes, I did and I am not ashamed!). Nate's favorite was the movin', groovin' "Jump Jump", which made us both get up and dance hand in hand with goofy smiles on our faces. Truth be told, I wasn't ready for it to end after just 29 minutes. But our joy lingered for long afterward.
Bottom line: Break out the shades because Joanie's future is looking bright. I'm A Rock Star is an authentic album that the little ones will surely love and parent's won't mind listening to on repeat.
BUY IT: I'm A Rock Star will be released on March 23, 2010 and will be available online at www.citykidmusic.com, amazon.com, cdbaby.com, and at specialty toy and bookstores nationwide (ARV $15).
Also in the works is a soon-to-be released full-length DVD, an animal concept children's album due in 2011 and a children's audiobook so keep those eyes peeled for even more Joanie coming soon!
WIN IT: One lucky reader is going to win a copy of the album before it is released to stores! Yippee!
MAIN COURSE (MANDATORY ENTRY): Tell me your favorite children's album. Remember to please leave your email address in your comment if it isn't visible on your profile to prevent disqualification!
SUGAR ON TOP (BONUS ENTRIES): To maximize your chances of winning, you may do any or all of the following. Be sure to complete the above mandatory entry or your bonus entries will not count! Remember to leave one comment per entry.
1.) Follow my blog and/or subscribe via reader or email. If you already follow and/or subscribe, that counts! (1 entry each)
2.) Follow me and Joanie Leeds on Twitter and tweet about this contest. Just leave me a comment with your tweet link. (1 entry)
3.) Become a fan of Joanie Leeds on Facebook. (1 entry)
4.) Add my blog button and leave a comment with the link to where I can find it. (1 entry)
Giveaway will end on February 28, 2010 at 11:59pm EST. Open to U.S. only. Winners will be chosen via Random.org and will have 48 hours to respond to congratulatory email or prize will be forfeited and another winner will be chosen.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this album courtesy of Elizabeth at Waldmania! to facilitate my candid review. I was in no other way compensated for this post. The thoughts and feelings expressed in this review are mine and mine alone. Your experience may differ.