MusicMusic Interviews

NYC’s Symphony Space hosts benefit concert with Children’s Album GRAMMY Nominees

NYC’s Symphony Space hosts benefit concert with Children’s Album GRAMMY Nominees on Saturday, January 27 at 11 am: Chatting with Justin Roberts and other nominees

New York’s Symphony Space is proud to be featuring this year’s GRAMMY Award nominees for Best Children’s Album. It’s the first time that an annual concert featuring the nominees will be held in New York, one day prior to the actual GRAMMYs! A public children’s concert honoring the children’s recording arts has become an annual tradition. This is the ninth year that the Children’s Recording Arts Alliance has produced these public shows (all previous concerts were hosted in Los Angeles). Symphony Space’s Just Kidding series is renowned for featuring high-quality and unique concerts for kids and their grownups, and it’s an apt venue for the “Best of Family Music Showcase” featuring four of the 2018 Best Children’s Album nominees.

These nominees — Alphabet Rockers, Morgan Taylor’s Gustafer Yellowgold, Lisa Loeb, and Justin Roberts — are donating their performances to benefit Education Through Music (, which presents programs reaching more than 30,000 children who are enrolled in at-risk schools in New York.

SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s “Kids Place Live” channel will record the concert and artist interviews, for a special show to air on Sunday, January 28. This concert is not an official event of the Recording Academy. The best children’s album of 2018 winner will be announced at the 60th annual GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, January 28.

The 2018 children’s album nominees are all independent artists and they represent the range of music being made in the family music genre right now.

“Getting nominated for a GRAMMY shows that making music about racial justice for kids is not only possible but is considered the best option for our future,” said Kaitlin McGaw of Alphabet Rockers. “We have worked in children’s music for ten years and being honored for this album – our most honest and contemporary sound – is already a huge win. We are all headed to NYC – the city that birthed hip hop – for this incredible moment. Everyone on our album – from our nine-year-old singers and rappers to our producer and mixing engineer – is traveling! We plan to perform our album in its entirety in pop up shows and events around the city and continue to grow this movement with kids, #woke parents and activist educators.”

“It feels really exciting to be nominated since my last nomination in 1995!” Lisa Loeb declared. “I’m celebrating by playing a concert with the other nominees. It’s been a great topic of conversation and it reinforces my feeling of connection with the music community as well as appreciation from the fans, which is a warm, happy feeling!”

“There is a lovely feeling being recognized by my peers in the greater musical community, since I get the instant feedback from the families at my live concerts,” Morgan Taylor of Gustafer Yellowgold said. “And getting nominated for both of my last two albums, makes me feel like I’m on the right trajectory. As far as celebration, I yell and whoop, and take the inspiration to stay on course, writing, improving and creating new material. And… I do keep imagining it as an excuse to puff a nice cigar on a rooftop somewhere.”

Three-time GRAMMY nominee Justin Roberts recently granted an exclusive interview where he discussed this exciting experience and his nominated album “Lemonade” in-depth:

Meagan Meehan (MM): What does it feel like to be nominated for a GRAMMY, and how are you planning to celebrate the event?

Justin Roberts (JR): It’s truly amazing to be acknowledged by your peers for such a prestigious award. This is my third nomination which really makes it all the more incredible. I will be attending the GRAMMYs with my wife, Anna, and my long-time producer and friend, Liam Davis.

MM: Why do you think “Lemonade” touched so many people?

JR: I really wanted to make a different kind of record this time and tried making simpler songs with acoustic instrumentation. We recorded it mostly live in the same room and I think it has a very organic and welcoming sound.

MM: How do you hope people are inspired by your music, and what kind of feedback have you received?

JR: I hope it’s the kind of record that families can enjoy together in the car or the kitchen or wherever they may be. There are universal experiences that bring the sometimes-disparate spheres of childhood and adulthood together and I find those things magical. I guess the best feedback is a parent telling me a song makes them cry when they hear it or a kid saying they really know how it feels to be too small to do something (must be this tall) and excited to try.

MM: You’ve been making music for families for more than a decade now. How is the field of independent children’s music changing?

JR: I’ve actually been making music for families for two decades! My first kids’ record came out in (gulp!) 1997. Kids’ music has been a genre for a very long time and there has always been really great kid’s music, but I think we went through an amazing renaissance in the early 2000s where a lot more artists started directing their talents to this arena and the music was a little more directed towards the whole family.

More recently, I think kid’s music is playing second fiddle to the world of short attention spans, apps, YouTube videos, streaming music, and iPads and so the full length album is a bit of a dinosaur. But, some of what I was reaching for on Lemonade was a return to that organic sound of folks just playing music together in a room. One of the songs that really touches on this where a family enjoys some simple moments together and in spite of all the challenges thinks “right here in this moment, how lucky we are.”
That being said, there are so many amazing folks making such different forms of music for families that it is truly inspiring to see the options that families have for seeing live music and making it part of their daily routines.

MM: What do you think parents are looking for when they select music for their kids?

JR: I think they are trying to find something that won’t drive them crazy but their kids will love. I always find parents saying they are surprised that they keep listening to my songs when their kids are no longer in the car. That’s the ultimate compliment.

MM: How did you get the gig at New York’s Symphony Space?

JR: Symphony Space is hosting all the nominees for Best Children’s Album so I was invited after the record got nominated. My band and I have played the Just Kidding season a few times in the past, and I’m looking forward to returning.

MM: What can people expect from the concert?

JR: All the groups are doing a short two or three-song set. We will have plenty of singing along and jokes and enjoying moments together.

MM: What’s coming up next for you?

JR: We have several shows coming up this winter and spring. I’m working on a new picture book for Putnam (I have two books out already – “The Smallest Girl” and “The Great Henry Hopendower”) and starting work on a new record. I’m also hoping to write a new musical for families with Ernie Nolan for Nashville Children’s Theater this year. You can get updates on my website.

* * * * *
To learn more about three-time Grammy nominated musical artist, Justin Roberts, visit his official website.

Kaitlin McGaw from Alphabet Rockers can be found via her “Alphabet Rockers” website here.

Lisa Loeb’s website is here.

Morgan Taylor of Gustafer Yellowgold can be found here.

To learn more about Symphony Space, visit their official website.

Meagan Meehan

Meagan J. Meehan is a published author, poet, cartoonist and produced playwright. She pens columns for the Great South Bay Magazine, Examiner and AXS. She is also a stop motion animator and an award-winning abstract artist. Meagan holds a Bachelors in English Literature and a Masters of Communication. She is an animal advocate and a fledging toy and game designer.
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