Thursday, May 12, 2011

She Hopes You Go Country

Hope Harris Brings a Junior Jamboree

Okay I'm not a fan of country music. It's my East Coast rock mentality and upbringing. But a decade of child-rearing and kid's music have beaten down some of my defenses. Boy, what a ringing endorsement, huh?

Richmond, Virgina's own Hope Harris has released a charming collection of 16 countrified tunes, "Cousin's Jamboree," that we'll give some spins to in our CD player. [I understand that using a verb associated with record players dates me.] Hope covers some classics, such as "Down In the Valley," with the archetypal twanging guitar, and "Five Little Monkeys." If I'm not mistaken, it's officially the 5,000th recording of the song.

Harris' second CD, "Cousin's Jamboree" is an homage to the childhood variety shows that she staged with her younger brother. The lyrics skew to the younger crowd (songs include "I Can Do It," "Good Manners," and "Seatbelt Buckled"). After hearing Uncle Rock's "Rock and Roll Babysitter," any other tune about professional childcare immediately comes in second place.

Ably produced by Dan Zanes co-producer Rob Friedman, Harris delivers an upbeat set of light and gentle country tunes. While our 10-year-old might give us some of his beginners' eye rolling at the table manners and behavior songs, his five-month-old brother will definitely need some musical prompting in the years to come.

With a background in Broadway and Off-Broadway productions (Jekyll & Hyde, Civil War), Harris is seeking to mark her territory as a children's performer who is country but not too country. After releasing lullaby and country CDs, her next release, "Picasso, That's Who" (fall 2011) will honor great artists through the centuries. And the prolific Harris has plans for a 2012 Earth-friendly CD, "Lemonade Stand." Perhaps Hope Harris wants to be the kids' equivalent of the Indigo Girls. Perhaps she wants to be the female Dan Zanes. It will be interesting to see where her musical journey takes her in the next few years.
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