Award-winning recording artist Laurie Berkner, widely recognized as the queen of children’s music, is bringing her show to the Greenwich Odeum Saturday, March 4 at 3PM. With over 22 million monthly streams, and millions of CDs and DVDs sold, Laurie’s songs have become much loved classics for children worldwide.
It’s her first major tour since the pandemic and she’s glad to be back in front of audiences. “People have been really excited and happy,” she said in recent phone chat. “It’s so moving to me to see faces again, I find myself tearing up at shows, because I’m just so happy to be back.”
Berkner is often associated with the “Kindie Rock” music genre, “indie” music for kids where songs are seen as less saccharine, more rocking, and not dumbed down for children. “Not that long after I started doing kids music (in the early 1990s) a lot of people who were musicians were taking the music more seriously as well as being interested in connecting with kids and families,” said Berkner.
“When I first started I felt like I was doing this thing that feels really good to me, but a lot of my friends who were musicians didn’t think I was doing real music, it took a little while for that to change. I think the Kindie movement was instrumental in that. Parents of young children started to see that it was actually good music,” explained Berkner.
Writing and producing children’s music requires a certain skill set. “There was this switchover from making music for kids if you couldn’t (make music) for adults, to making music for kids because you are attuned to it,” said Berkner. “It takes into account the change in some of the styles, and the expectations of what music for kids actually was. As a musician, you have to balance your goal as an artist and what feels good, satisfying and growth-building personally. What are kids really going to connect to and learn from, grow from, and get really positive messages through, all of those things. There’s a real art to that.”
As a songwriter, Berkner often introduces new ideas and concepts to children. “I think if it is an idea that might be newer for kids, developmentally they are learning something, then it’s really helpful to try to connect that idea with something that may already be familiar. It’s also fun to write a song about something that is familiar and enjoyable and that will hopefully connect and bring pleasure and a reason to get up and move around,” she added.
Indeed, if you have tickets to the show, be prepared to get up and move around. Berkner’s show focuses on young toddlers to about age seven. “They’ve potentially been moving more than they’ve been talking,” she said. “Learning and having a positive experience is often coupled with physical movement. I bring a lot those concepts to my shows. I think a lot about the rhythm of the setlist, are we getting up and moving, is there a chance to come back and relax, be more connected to the family or the people they came with.”
Berkner continues to release new music, on CD, online and on a new medium, the Toniebox, an imagination-building, screen-free digital listening experience that plays stories, songs, and more. Closer to a CD player than Spotify, the device puts the physical product in the hands of a child. “It’s a little squishy speaker box and you put a figure on the top, it plays songs, about the length of the CD. It’s a beautiful thing to give kids control that way,” explained Berkner.
“It’s an art to ride the wave and find out how people are discovering music.: she added. “Of course, my audience is always outgrowing me, I have to find new families, new kids, and that’s an ongoing task for me as an independent kids’ artist. I feel grateful that I started this 25 years ago and it’s been sustainable, it’s a lot of work, sometimes exhausting, but I find it a lot of fun.”