Louisville Lullabies is not your average children's CD. Screechy child voices are replaced by soulful singing. Frenzied refrains about barnyard animals whisked away by songs that make you want to sit on your front porch and dreamily watch day turn into night. In essence, Louisville Lullabies: Cradle Rockin' Sleeper Hit is truly a good compilation of music that bridges the far too often polarizing worlds between children and adults.
Since its release last December, Louisville Lullabies has been a constant fixture in my son Jack's life. I play in the car as a deterrent against backseat toddler screaming. We hear the CD in local businesses on Bardstown Road while running daily errands. One day I picked Jack up early from daycare, and I noticed that his teachers were playing the album like snake-charmers trying to lull a roomful of toddlers to sleep. So, my son's not alone. Louisville Lullabies has become the ubiquitous soundtrack to the lives of so many other toddlers on the town.
So that makes this locally make CD from an independent record company so popular? I really wanted to learn more about how the project of Louisville Lullabies was launched. I did some digging and was surprised to realized that both of the names of the producers (Heidi Howe and Gill Holland) were recognizable. Heidi is a local musician and music educator. However, in my house she is best known as Jack's guitar-clad, blonde-tressed rock hero...aka, teacher of his weekly Wee Rock! music classes. Gill I remembered as Louisville Magazine's 2009 "Person of the Year." Co-developer of The Green Building and founder of SonaBLAST! records, Gill as become a revitalizing force in the NuLU/East Market Street area.
Both producers are parents with a seemingly endless supply of energy, enthusiasm and imagination. But what truly unites Heidi and Gill is a passion for both music and the city of Louisville. I recently has the pleasure of "virtually" sitting down with these busy producers so that they could answer some of my questions about Louisville Lullabies...
Emily Sales (ES): Tell me a little about your backgrounds?
Heidi Howe (HH): I’ve been a professional musician for nearly 20 years. (Wow, that makes me feel really old.) I own a business called Wee Rock! teaching parent/child music classes. I’ve released 5 CD’s, and my children’s CD (Give a Hootenanny! Twangy Tunes About Lovin' the Earth) has garnered national reviews, a letter from Al Gore and an E-chievement award from the E-town radio show. I’ve toured the US playing my original music. I miss touring.
Gill Holland (GH):Worked for a bit in a law firm in Paris after passing NC bar. Realized I wanted to work in films (early 90s was heyday for independent film) I moved back to United States to New York City. I produced a lot of movies, started a label in 2002 after realizing music is so key in films and there was a niche I could fill. Had Cora, first daughter 3.5 years ago and then twins 9 months ago and that really puts a new perspective on life!
ES: So how did the idea for Louisville Lullabies come about?
HH: Gill Holland came up with the idea a few years ago and talked with me about it. We kicked it around on numerous occasions until one day I just said that if he were serious about it, I’d do the leg work. Gill is full of great ideas.
GH: We were consuming lots of books and music and tv shows for kids, so Istarted thinking about how we could make something Louisville-centric and I am also on the board of the speed museum so was thinking of ways to raise money as part of my Board duties.... So I wrote LOUISVILLE COUNTS, the art counting book that raised money (over twelve thousand so far, and L IS FOR LOUISVILLE comes out this fall, so it will take the figure to over twenty thousand) for the Speed kids interactive gallery ART SPARKS and thought, well , just as there are tons of great artists in this incredibly artsy/cultural town, the music scene is amazing, so maybe we could do something similar to that book as a CD ... Also on iTunes there was basically nothing that said Louisville if you searched on that, so it was a town pride thing as well, a way to show off the fact that Louisville has great socially active philanthropists across the social spectrum as well as the great musicians (we do have the best Fund for the Arts in the nation!).
ES: Heidi, how did you first get in contact with Gill about working on this project?
HH: As most folks in the Louisville media can attest, I am a shameless self-promoter. When Gill moved to town, I contacted him several times about listening to my music. I think I kind of stalked him. For some reason, he seemed fond of rather than frightened by me, and we became good acquaintances. Gill’s a hugely busy guy, and he still made an effort to come hear me play.Honestly, I think the definitive conversation about Louisville Lullabies went down when we ran into each other in Cherokee Park. But I could be wrong about that. I just know we talked about it several times there.
ES: There are so many great musician in Louisville. Hos did you choose the artists to work with on this album?
HH: Ah, yes. It was hard to choose. Gill had some folks in mind, and I had some folks in mind. We asked most all of the musicians on both of our lists and some of them said yes. It’s not an easy thing necessarily for musicians to come up with a song for a themed compilation CD. Not everyone has "lullaby" recorded. And we were limited in how many folks we could get into the studio to record. This played a part in who made it on the CD too.
GH: There was an organic process to choosing the artists, LP is on our label so that was an obvious, we invited a couple of other artists on the label who were touring so couldn't get a recording in time (we may do a sequel though) Carter Wood is an old friend of mine from Nashville and then NY so I have been a fan for years, I went to a Harry Pickens Davidson concert as a college student so that was a no brainer (he does lots of charity work already). I think I went to Heidi first to do a song and to help with the project since she is involved in childrens music education. Then there are the Danny and Leigh Ann and Ron Whiteheads and Love Jones who are just Louisville institutions and nothing can happen without them!
ES: Why did you choose for the proceed for the album to be donated to Home for the Innocents?
GH: We are doing a lot of work in NuLu and HOTI is our neighbor and they do such great work in general, seemed like a logical fit, they worked with children.
ES: The CD is called "Louisville Lullabies" for obvious reasons- is was created in Louisville by local musicians. But what else do you think that this album says about our city that is distinctly and uniquely Louisville? I've lived in a lot of great cities that just don't have this sort of community awareness to launch a project like Louisville Lullabies.
HH: This is one of the reasons I love Louisville…it has much of the talent and artistic opportunities of a larger city, but people still know and care about each other and their community. Nearly everyone I approached about the CD was very enthusiastic, not just about being on the CD, but about helping the Home of the Innocents. Listen to the archive of our Louisville Lullabies Live Lunch on WFPK (www.wfpk.org). There was an energy in the room that day that was undeniable and experienced by many of the performers and audience members present. The spirit of community, of goodwill, of love just surrounds this project. I am just happy to be along for the ride.
Louisville Lullabies is for sale at Ear X-stacy, Shine Studio, Mama's Hip as well as on iTunes.