What's your idea of an exciting Friday night?
How about a little live music?
How about a little live music, some singing and dancing, clapping and random jumping around?
How about balloons and bubbles?
Wait. Balloons and bubbles? What kind of live music is this?
OK, I confess. Last night, I attended a concert by award-winning children's recording artist Julie K, who was debuting her new CD, "Family Love" at a free event at Peoria Christian School in Peoria.
Julie is an extremely talented local singer, songwriter and performer who children (and adults) absolutely ADORE. Running out onto the stage in hot pink jeans, bright yellow shirt and sequined pink tennis shoes, she had those kids rushing the stage like she was one of the original Beatles.
With a BA in Vocal Performance, Julie recorded her first CD, "A Sunny Day", in 2009, which received the 2010 Dr. Toy Best Vacation Product Award, 2010 Parents' Choice Award, the 2010 Creative Child Preferred Choice Award and the Dove Foundation Family Approved Seal. Her second CD, "Animal Party", was the 2011 Creative Child CD of the Year and 2011 Parents' Choice Award winner, among others.
On this night, though, it was all about "Family Love".
Bursting into her first song, "Celebration", she had those kids smiling, laughing, dancing and singing. Of course, the confetti bomb at the end didn't hurt, either.
Julie sang quite a few songs from her new "Family Love" CD, a collection of energetic, fun and meaningful tunes that tell the story of... well, family. She had kids grooving and adults smiling to "Groovy Grandma and Grandpa" (because who doesn't have one of those?) Before launching into "Vacation Destination", she showed photos of her as a child with the paneled station wagon in the background that had most parents there nodding their heads as they waxed nostalgic for the old days. And I have to say my own personal favorite was "Super Mom" - a shout-out to moms that had more than just this gal giving Julie a big thumbs up.
That's the thing. I liked listening to her music. This is the kids' music I wished I had when my children were young. The music that I can enjoy listening to as well - in the car, in the house... over and over and over if need be. She's kind of the anti-Barney, if you will.
The concert was just under an hour long - perfect for a toddler's attention span and a parent's energy level. Julie maintained an upbeat pace to keep the enthusiasm high but not out of control. In fact, most of the kids hung out by the stage dancing, twirling, clapping and singing for the concert's entirety.
Anyone watching Julie on stage can tell she does this because she loves it, and has a true passion for teaching and bringing out the best in children as well as their parents. In fact, she is now offering Julie K's Music Together, family music classes that give families a chance to play, to make music, and to learn about their children's music development. The classes meet once a week for ten weeks consecutively during the school
year and once a week for six weeks in the summer at three locations in Peoria and Morton.
I highly encourage parents to get in touch with Julie K - attend a concert, buy the CDs, or sign up for a class. In a world of so many negative images and messages, Julie K is truly a positive influence in a child's development and self-esteem, as well as a great opportunity for parents to connect with their kids through the power of music.
For information on Julie K's upcoming concerts, appearances and music classes, to schedule Julie K to come to your event or location, or to listen to/purchase her CDs, visit her website at www.juliekmusic.com.