Kindle artists have always produced astounding work around social justice, diversity and tolerance. This is not new: Ants on a Log, Dave Kinnoin and Brady Rymer are among artists who address issues of the environment, character education and learning differences. All stand on the shoulders of Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer who in turn continue the folk tradition of creating music to move society’s most challenging mountains.
The Alphabet Rockers shine their light outward in a compelling call to action. Jon Samson looks inward to the child in each of us. Both of their creations are excellent additions to the wealth of music to inspire change and reflection.
‘Giving voice to what matters’
Grammy nominees Alphabet Rockers’ The Love carries on the hip hop duo’s mission of “giving voice to what matters.” This concept CD frames its inclusive celebration of gender’s many facets with emotionally powerful lyrics and infectious rhythms. Alphabet Rockers are joined by musicians like Grammy winners Lucy Kalantari and Okee Dokee Brothers along with real voices of young people in a declaration of solidarity and strength. The song titles clue you on what to expect: “Until You’re Free,” “I am Enough,” “Live Your Life.” “Until You’re Free” declares “we will be louder and stronger together” in a musical setting that brings 123 Andres and SaulPaul into the mix to do just that. The songs and interludes (focusing on pronouns) stand alone, but the album’s great strength is in standing as one continuous work of art. It is amazing.
Helping kids find focus
Jon Samson’s AGELESS: Songs for the Child Archetype is a collection of songs addressing feelings that surface at any age. Our inner child gets a voice here through Samson. With the first song “Predicament,” he addresses the difference between a problem and a predicament with empowering yet honest lyrics (“this world is a little bit broken”). It’s a complex, magnificently produced original collection that takes Samson’s work as a music therapist to a new level with the song “Anxiety,” an anthem for all ages that rivals Dear Evan Hansen’s “Waving Through a Window” in its expression of a mix of emotions.
Samson’s songs address issues (“Anxiety,” “Predicament,” “Bye, Polar Bear”) from the view of the child in each of us. By giving real feelings a voice, he creates a safe space to examine those feelings. His recurring theme of focus becomes a trilogy: “Focus on What You Want,” “Focus on ADD,” and “Focus on this Moment.” Samson’s themes manage to be comforting and challenging at the same time, always with the feeling that he knows exactly what the listener is feeling.
Kathy O’Connell is a contributing writer to MetroKids and host of the Peabody award-winning Kids Corner, on air Monday-Thursday from 7-8pm on WXPN 88.5 FM.