Lucy Kalantari recently performed a sing-along at A Child Grows 2’s and 3’s fest. It was so fabulous and her new holiday themed album, It’s the Holidays, is so much fun that I just had to interview her!
Read our conversation below:
Me: So, your followers know this, but just so we can catch up, how did you get involved in children’s music?
Lucy: Shortly after my son was born, I was invited to do a song-a-week project for a full year. Doing this helped keep me immersed in music, while also getting lost in the pile of diapers, sleepless nights and the endless worry of being a new mom. As I approached the end of the year, I found myself with a handful of kid-friendly songs on the ukulele that made my baby extra bouncey. With the encouragement of my husband, I went into the studio to record them. This is what became Pockets Full of Joy, my first kids album.
So you were a musician before?
Yes! I played piano and sang, mostly angsty music that many would label “adult contemporary”. The fun thing about doing the song-a-week project, was that I was able to dabble in so many different genres and stay true to the sounds I heard in my head when I was writing.
Your latest album has a real Jazz flavor? Do all your songs? What made you go in this direction?
It feels very natural to write in this old-timey jazz style. For a while, it was a bit of a mystery why I was so attracted to this genre. But the more I wrote, and the more I released, the clearer my relationship between jazz and kids music became. I grew up watching many old classic cartoons & TV shows: Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry, 3 Stooges, I Love Lucy, etc. The bed of music behind these shows were often from the jazz age and big band era, as well as lots of big classical pieces. I have found myself referencing some of these old cartoons when I want to describe the vibe of a song to my band. When I hear music in this style, I think of the silly skits, dances and moves from those old shows and can’t help but smile. It was a big part of my childhood.
My family music isn’t all jazz. In a few tunes, like “It’s Halloween” and “My Mommy Is a Mummy”, I tried to conjure the classic orchestral influences from the likes of Carl Stalling (Looney Tunes) and Danny Elfman. But I also wanted to keep the arrangements simple enough to be performed by my 4-piece band and a guest cellist. One of my goals is to write more songs in this style and eventually have them arranged and performed with an orchestra. Stay tuned…
Your concerts with the Jazz Cats are great, but you do a lot of sing-alongs. I have seen one and the kids love it. You bring instruments for them to play with and keep everyone engaged. But how do you keep yourself engaged? How do you keep it fun for you?
Thank you! It takes a lot for me to get bored with anything. I love the repetition–it gives me the opportunity to try something new and keep perfecting it. Whether it’s a new rhythmic pattern, or an embellished melody. Also, kids can be so spontaneous, it makes the interactions unpredictable and new every time. This unpredictability keep me on my toes, and constantly challenges me to be creative with all the variables thrown my way.
When you make it big, and it seems like you are already almost there for the kid’s music world, will you still do sing-alongs?
Make it big?!?! What is the marker for bigness? 🙂
I will continue to do sing alongs, for as long as I can. I love how it keeps me connected with the community, and I get to meet all of the new babies in the neighborhood and watch them grow up! It’s a gift that keeps giving.
You have won some children’s music awards. How are you considered for those? Do you have to enter or do they find you?
Yes! It’s been a very exciting year for awards! I have to enter them myself. It’s the same for things like the Grammy Awards, the artist or record label has to submit their album for consideration in the appropriate genre.
Tell me about Sprout House. What is it and how did you get involved?
Sprout House is a fairly new, musically-infused programming block on Universal Kids for toddlers and pre-schoolers every weekday morning. The hosts, Carly, Snug & TJ, are wonderfully engaging, and appear between regular Sprout programming during the morning block. Sprout contacted me in the spring, interested in some of my songs. I had been in the middle of translating my song “Fantastic” and we came in the summer and did a bilingual video for it as well as two other tunes. It was super fun experience!
Most recently, Sprout House produced an 11-minute holiday special, and featured my songs “It’s the Holidays!” and “It’s Snowing”. It was so exciting to hear my music in such a magical little segment. It took me back to my childhood, seeing my favorite characters in a different setting. I know my son loved it and squealed with delight when he heard the first few trumpet notes for “It’s Snowing”.
Awesome, how can we watch it?
Tune in 9am-12pm EST Monday through Friday on Universal Kids, (check your cable listing for exact channel).
What do you do when you aren’t making music or being a mom?
I really like to pack everything in: I go to live shows; do yoga; during the spring and summer, I garden in our yard, usually with my son; play Scrabble; whenever I get the opportunity (and find a worthy opponent!) I play ping pong; and, occasionally, my husband and I get a babysitter and go out on a date.
The new album is not just Christmas. There are tracks dedicated to Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and the New Year. Some sites are better than others for supporting musicians. Where should we buy your Holiday album (or any of your other albums) if we want to get it online?
My website! LucyKalantari.com
Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats will be playing Industry City, in Brooklyn on Saturday, December 30th at 12:30pm for a special New Years Jazz Brunch for Kids. Free admission: