No one is going to accuse Joanie Leeds of being a fly-by-night kindie artist. Leeds’ commitment to bringing music to children started in high school when she taught music to kids at her local temple. After going off to Syracuse to earn a B.F.A. in drama and musical theatre, Leeds began life as a singer/songwriter on the “grown-up” club circuit. But like most kindie musicians, she was led back to children, and starting working at a Manhattan Gymboree as a music specialist and a sing-along entertainer. Eventually, this resulted in the Parents’ Choice Recommended award-winning children’s album City Kid! as well as last year’s holiday album, Challah, Challah.
Now, Joanie Leeds is gearing up for the March 23 release of her new kids’ CD, I’m a Rock Star, which I was lucky enough to preview.
The album kicks off with the country-tinged title track and follow-up song “Sunglasses,” both featuring hooks that should make country pop stars like Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood jealous. “Give Me a Hug” continues in this twangy style, and really shows off Leeds’ ability to craft a song. Further evidence of her songwriting ability is on display in closing tunes “Put A Little Smile On Your Face” and “Goodbye, Goodbye.” Sweet and poppy, all of these songs prove that Leeds should be on speed dial for the latest American Idol looking for a hit tune.
True to her press material’s promise, I’m A Rock Star is also a genre-jumping album, but Leeds pulls it off successfully thanks to its solid production and Joanie’s skilled songwriting. A hip-hop electro vibe is introduced in “More Cowbell,” a quick music lesson hidden in a humorous and bass-heavy song. Things get even more eclectic, and impressive, with “I Like Jazz,” where she manages to adapt her sound to the jazz genre and still make it kid-friendly. The album also adds some rockabilly, Latin and cartoon-style songs to the mix. .
Throughout all these charming and clever songs are kid-friendly messages about being “green,” cleaning up after yourself, learning other languages and understanding your feelings. Overall, Leeds delivers a strong contribution to the kindie scene, proving she knows how to write damn good song for both kids and adults.
Leeds continues her commitment to family music in the year ahead with a music DVD for kids. Also in the works is another album with an animal theme as well as a children’s book/CD combo project.
Visit Joanie Leeds’ official website to learn more about this artist and purchase her new album.