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New York City
Divorced, no kids
A voice recorder
A great vocal coach
A sense of the ridiculous
I've always wanted to make a kids' CD. I love hanging out with children, and given that I make my living doing ridiculous voices for cartoons and commercials, I wanted to record an album of me reading funny children's poems I had written. But the project never got past the idea stage. Fast-forward to 2006: One of my friends learned that the entertainment agency she worked for needed a kids' band for a TV appearance. I'd talked a lot about making a kids' CD, and I guess she thought that meant music. Anyway, she volunteered me. I had no musical experience (unless you count winning a song-writing contest in third grade) and no band. But I can carry a tune, so I wrote a couple of songs that had kid themes, found a guy with a guitar, and asked one of my friends to sing harmony. Presto, I was lead vocalist of a kiddie rock band I called The Jimmies, after those candies you sprinkle on ice cream. Needless to say, we were not ready for prime time and didn't get the TV job -- but this was the push I needed. I wrote 10 more songs, and with the help of a fabulous producer and a studio musician, recorded a CD, Make Your Own Someday. In April 2007 we played at a YouthFest event in Sarasota and the band just took off. After that I sent the CD to every kids' radio and TV station, every music festival and Web site -- even handed it out to kids on the street. It paid off. We were number one on Sirius XM radio's Kids Place Live when the album came out and again in June of this year. And in 2008 we played Kidzapalooza, which is part of Lollapalooza, the famous music festival.What I Learned
The first thing I figured out was that it's a bad idea to perform downwind of a bubble machine. A more important lesson was that fear of failure paralyzes you. Because I was more committed to not failing than to succeeding, I had never tried my hardest on anything. I've given my all to this project, and its success has boosted my confidence. It takes a lot of effort to keep it going and still do my day job, but when a little kid runs up and throws his arms around me after a concert, well, that's just the best thing in the world.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, November 2009.