A Place to Call Home is the seventh award-winning album by children’s recording artist Dana Cohenour that will be released on June 6th. She recently released the first single from the album, “Underground Traffic Jam,” and the animated music video can be seen here: https://youtu.be/VTUN7D461_4.
“Underground Traffic Jam” is a humorous tune and the video imagines the traffic blockages that would result from all kinds of animals just going about their day! Today (May 29th) she also released a cool music video for “Migration,” featuring footage of humpback whales in action: https://youtu.be/3TM83RQafvk. Dana wrote this song after researching whale migration and then got permission to use video footage from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).
Some of the song lyrics on A Place To Call Home delve into the habits and habitats of threatened animals such as the honey bee, humpback whales, and hermit crabs. These new songs explore the different places animals live such as in the sky and sea, in wetlands and underground tunnels. Featuring numerous musical genres ranging from rock to reggae, bluegrass to bossa nova, the album is designed to educate and engage young listeners while inspiring them to care about all the living creatures who share this precious planet we all call home. The core message of the songs is that every living being, from honey bees to humans, needs a safe place to call home.
For the past month, Dana has been leading virtual Music Playground sessions every Thursday at 12 noon Pacific Time. This helps entertain children during the pandemic and the subsequent quarantine. She recently discussed this album via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you first break into the music industry and how many genres do you like to blend into your sound?
Dana Cohenour (DC): I was very fortunate that my first album won a few national awards. This boosted my confidence and solidified my commitment to creating educational, interactive, fun music for children. I started my own record label (Music Playground) with the goal of introducing children to numerous genres of music, with high production standards and authentic instrumentation. On this new album, you’ll find rock, reggae, bluegrass, bossa nova, pop, country and jazz.
MM: How did you come up with the animal themes of the songs in “A Place To Call Home”?
DC: I was inspired to write these songs last year during the immigration crisis at the US/Mexican border. Seeing these families and other refugees around the world struggling to simply find a safe place to raise their children and live in peace reminded me that every living being, from humans to honey bees needs a “place to call home.” I decided to write about animals and their habitats, with a special focus on species that are threatened by climate change or human behavior.
MM: What’s your favorite thing about this album and which songs really stand out? Why?
DC: My favorite thing about these songs is the educational element. I learned so much while I was researching each animal and was excited to share interesting facts about them in my lyrics. I think the more you learn about an animal, the more you care about them. I hope my new songs will plant little seeds of care in the minds and hearts of children, and that they will be inspired, as I have been, to do more to take care of our planet and the animals with whom we share it. I especially loved writing about all the animals who live in the Amazon rainforest. This was my first attempt at writing in the bossa nova style, and I love the way “Rainforest Symphony” came together. We found recordings of the actual animals mentioned in the song and incorporated them into the soundtrack. I think this makes you feel like you are really there paddling down the Amazon river. Similarly, my song about humpback whales, “Migration” incorporates actual whale song. I was honored that the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute shared their amazing whale recordings with me, and they really bring the song to life.
MM: How long did the music video take to complete and how much creative control did you have over it?
DC: So far, we have made three music videos in support of the album. (“Underground Traffic Jam,” “Honey Bee Bee Bop” and “Migration”), It’s been a crazy time to create these, but thankfully, we shot most of the footage with the children before the quarantine started. I have been able to work with my videographer and animator remotely and we have been very busy over the past 2 months putting everything together as partners. It’s amazing what you can do with screen and file sharing these days! Luckily, because I’ve been shooting my Dana’s Music Playground YouTube series over the past year, I already have a little studio set up with a green screen & lighting here at my home for extra scenes that we needed.
MM: What can audiences expect from the virtual shows you’re currently conducting and how do they compare with live shows?
DC: I have been having so much fun with my weekly Facebook Live streams. At first it was a little overwhelming, trying to figure out the technical aspects, but I am VERY lucky my son, Jack has been able to help me. He has been my camera operator and helps with editing as well. I don’t know what I’ll do without him when he heads to film school in the fall! The live streams are a combination of my live shows and the activities we do in my Music Playground classes. I choose a different theme every week and incorporate lots of movement, rhymes, felt stories, and of course, plenty of interactive songs! I love being able to ask the kids to suggest ideas for actions we can do or what their favorite fruit, color, etc. might be. It makes both the kids and I feel like we’re really together.
MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
DC: My ultimate goal is still the same as it was when I first started making music for kids… to entertain and educate children with high quality music that respects their young ears and inspires them to move, be healthy, read, learn and care about one another, the animals and this precious planet we all call home. I’d love to invite families to visit my website at: www.danasmusicplayground.com to learn more about this album and all of my other music and videos. They’ll find fun “Animal Activity Sheets” there to print out. I couldn’t fit all of the tons of interesting animal facts into the song lyrics, so there are more cool things to discover about the animals on these sheets. I hope kids will come and visit me on Thursdays at Noon Pacific time for my Facebook Live streams and say hello!
To stream the songs, see here:
To pre-order the album, see here:
More about Dana can be found here: