“I Am Kind” is the title song from musical artist Lindsay Munroe’s new sixteen-song album entitled I Am Kind. These songs of encouragement are designed for children but suitable for adults and feature the legendary children’s entertainer Raffi, too.
Lindsay Munroe is a passionate advocate of diversity and inclusion, and her sing-along sessions delight youngsters at libraries and preschools in her native Massachusetts. Raffi discovered her YouTube channel called “Sing Along with Lindsay,” and the two musicians subsequently connected at a recent concert. Raffi produced the album and released it on his Troubadour Music label on April 24th. A self-taught multi-instrumentalist and the mother of three autistic children, Lindsay has been inspired by the Raffi Foundation’s online course in Child Honouring. “Kindness Counts” is this year’s theme for Autism Awareness Month which makes the timing of her album especially suitable.
Lindsay holds the distinction of being the only other artist sighed to Raffi’s record label. She recently discussed her music and more via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in music and how come you focus on family friendly in particular?
Lindsay Munroe (LM): I’ve played music for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my room was full of instruments–three or four guitars were hanging on the walls of my small room, and a large keyboard on a stand took up a large percent of floor space. I often played open mics and loved connecting with other artists in folk venues around Boston. At the same time, I always played music with my children; songs by Raffi were our favorites. My oldest son Jack particularly loved “Baby Beluga” when he was little–we listened to it all the time. A couple of years ago I started playing classic songs for kids at places such as libraries and preschools. I loved the joy and sense of community that was present during my singalongs. This eventually led to my Sing Along with Lindsay YouTube and Instagram where Raffi discovered me.
MM: How many instruments did you teach yourself to play and what order did you learn them in?
LM: Hmmm…I may have lost count! I’m constantly picking up and learning new instruments. I first picked up the guitar as a teenager. I taught myself by listening to Janis Ian and Joni Mitchell albums and playing along with them– that naturally led to learning piano. Within the last five years or so, I added ukulele, banjo and mandolin. Most of the songs on I Am Kind were written on the ukulele. I find it to be such a fun and child-friendly instrument.
MM: How did you start working with Raffi and how did you become the only other artist signed to his label?
LM: I have a Sing-Along with Lindsay Instagram page, and was thrilled when Raffi liked my posts and followed my account. When I saw that he was coming to play a concert right here in Worcester in 2019, I took my youngest daughter Mem. Afterward, we met during the meet and greet. During that meeting, we got to talking about children’s music, songwriting, and autism. An idea came about that I should try to write a song for kids with autism. Raffi heard the first song and he was so encouraging and such a wonderful mentor to me. He encouraged me to keep writing and before we knew it, I had written enough songs for an album. Incredibly, when Raffi heard the first couple of songs, he offered to sing harmony. On hearing the completed first two songs, we knew this was the beginning of a special album. I was so happy to have Raffi sing harmony on a song or two but when he offered to produce the album I was overjoyed. I hope that this album uplifts and inspires kids and families, especially during this unprecedented time we’re living in. I feel very grateful to have this opportunity, with Raffi’s guidance and support. It has been an incredible experience.
MM: What’s your favorite thing about this album and which songs really stand out? Why?
LM: I love the positive, uplifting, inclusive messages in the songs. The messages in “I Am Kind” and “Every One Of Us Belongs” are what I want to pass along to my three kids and to all kids. I think the album is a really nice mix of originals and classic songs. Singing “The More We Get Together” with Raffi was definitely a highlight for me personally.
MM: You are the mother of three children who have autism, how has that shaped your views on life and your creativity in general?
LM: My children have taught me that everyone deserves to be loved and celebrated for who they are. To unconditionally love someone is to fully accept them for exactly who they are. It’s important to me to convey these messages of inclusion and acceptance in my music. My kids Emma, Jack, and Mem are all very musical; they love to sing, dance and play instruments. They are also the most kindhearted people I know. They inspire me every day.
MM: How do you envision the music videos for these songs looking? Can you give us a sneak-peek as to what you are thinking thematically and visually?
LM: It was an interesting, yet fun experience making the “I Am Kind” music video in this time of social distancing. Right now we are working on a video for “Little Red Caboose” in a similar style to “I Am Kind.” My kids sing on this song so they will be in the video! I’m so proud of them.
MM: What can audiences expect from your live shows?
LM: I absolutely love doing live shows. I want everyone at my shows to sing along. It feels so good to sing with others. There’s something really uplifting about people coming together to sing. My shows aren’t about me standing up and giving a performance where people just passively watch me on stage. I want my shows to be a time to come together and celebrate the joy of music and connection with each other.
MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
LM: My goals for the future include continuing to make music for kids and families, and to write a book for kids and one for grown-ups too. While I was writing the songs on I Am Kind, I was taking The Raffi Foundation online course in Child Honouring. Many of my songs echo principles of Child Honouring such as Diversity, Respectful Love, Caring Community, Emotional Intelligence, etc. The course empowers people to become changemakers. I want to do more as a Child Honouring joy envoy and changemaker by spreading a message of respectful love, nonviolence, sustainability etc. The course inspired me to live more consciously and to do my part creating a more peaceful society; one which honors Earth and child.
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To learn more, visit Lindsay’s official website.