American historian Daniel Boorstin once said, “Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.” In that context, children's music is overwhelmingly important – your core audience comes in with no knowledge whatsoever, past nursery rhymes, lullabies, and whatever their family shares inside the home.
Darlene Graham (with her backups, the Shades of Green Band), is familiar with that conundrum and has spent more than 20 years "combatting" the problem with Mommy & Me sessions, birthday parties performances, classes, and concerts. This year, she released her second CD, BIG HUGS FOR MAMA, to continue her passion.
The CD is broken into two sections, 12 tracks with the band (mostly original songs) and a live solo show (mostly covers and traditional tunes). The latter part skews to pre-walkers ("Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Head and Shoulders"). Graham and band (including co-producer and hubby Chris Graham) stay in the upper range of that neighborhood with "Somebody Come And Play" (you must know it from Sesame Street). They also cover a gamut of interests from "Commuter Kid" to "I'm Going to the Beach."
Darlene harkens back to her celtic trio days on "I'll Tell Me Ma" and casts an underwater net for the tale of "Billy the Fish." With three of their own kids providing an acid test for their material, the Grahams are one of the region's first families of children's music. Three kids piled in the backseat also provides a handy explanation the seven-year gap between the new CD and Darlene's first album, EVERYBODY DANCE in 2008. Well, that and relying on Kickstarter as a funding source.
It would be facetious to say that there are "Darlene Grahams" all around the country. There are music education specialists who turn their passion into their livelihood, some who turn into Laurie Berkner along the way. But people who take on the responsibility of teaching their children about music should be seeking out those performances, classes, and sessions. Long Island has Darlene Graham (Canada had her, but that's a story for another day) and children around the region delight when she starts singing "Hello" (and not the new Adele version either).
BIG HUGS FOR MAMA is available from CDBABY, Amazon, and iTunes.
Here is a video of Darlene with her band (and dancers) performing "Big Hugs for Mama" at Jones Beach last summer: