“Me Symphony” is the first single from Tracy Bonham’s debut children’s album, Young Maestros Vol. 1. The song is accompanied by a fun music video that was shared in early February by Brooklyn Vegan and the album is scheduled to be released April 16, 2021 on Bonham’s Melodeon Music House label.
This album contains eleven songs and celebrates music and movement while also teaching musical concepts in a fun way. Tracy recently discussed her career and music via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in music and songwriting and did you always gravitate towards the children’s genre?
Tracy Bonham (TB): There was always music in the house growing up whether there was a record on the record player, or when my grandfather and mother would harmonize. My grandfather, Ralph, was a self-taught musician and deputy sheriff. He would constantly whistle while on the job and then would play dixie-land gigs at night. He taught me that there is always a place for humor in music. My mother was the one to get me excited about music education. We both loved how Sesame Street, Schoolhouse Rock, and the Electric Company combined music with education. I had not gravitated towards the children’s genre as a writer until I started thinking about having children and what kind of music education I would like them to have.
MM: How did you break into the industry and how would you describe your style?
TB: I have one of those “overnight success stories”. I had been a musician all my life, mind you, but I started writing songs after college and within a few short years I was being courted by all the major record labels in 1993. I had only been writing songs for two years. I had only a handful of songs when I was being wined and dined by music executives. My debut album was released in 1996 and it was an immediate hit all over the world. The album was edgy and angsty and quirky and melodic at the same time. My new release, Young Maestros Vol. 1, is something different. While I maintain the quirkiness and the humor, I have moved on from the edginess and angst. There still is an energy of empowerment behind it, you might even call it “girl power” but I like to think of it as “young people power”. But mostly, the songs are comical stories where characters overcome limitations with hidden lessons of music theory within the songs”
MM: How long did it take you to complete this entire album and what inspired its songs?
TB: I started writing in this particular genre around 2008. I had been taking a break from touring and wanted to look into teaching music more, as I grew up classically trained as a violinist and pianist and I have a passion for teaching music theory. I had been pretty disappointed with what I had witnessed with the widespread budget cuts in the school systems. I had also heard so many stories from fans about how they had wanted to be a musician but that they had a “mean teacher” or a “boring teacher” so they quit. I found that so sad. I grew up with so many amazing teachers and I wanted to start giving back to the music community by creating more educational material that made learning music fun.
MM: Out of the eleven songs on the album, do you have any personal favorites? If so, which ones and why?
TB: My favorite changes all the time! I love them all so much. They are my children! But, if I had to choose today I would say “Background Singers” is on the top of the list. I am a huge fan of harmonies. I love figuring them out, and singing them, and getting really meticulous about blend and articulation. It is always fun to be the lead singer but there is such magic to be a background singer! It’s actually more challenging because you have to really listen. I wrote this song about a lead singer who was too full of herself to realize that she was not being kind to her background singers. It starts with the lead singer being locked in the closet, literally singing from the closet, not knowing why she had gotten stuck there. Turns out the background singers were the ones to lock her in there, and they all sing back and forth to one another – the background singers having no remorse at all. Eventually, the lead singer realizes that she needs to be more of a team player, and they let her out so they can all work together in the end.
MM: What inspired the first music video and what was it like to film?
TB: The first single and music video for Young Maestros Vol. 1 is called “Me Symphony.” Rene Hart, my business partner and music collaborator, and I dreamed up the intro scene where I would be traveling the world, realizing that I had forgotten all my instruments. When the song kicks in we wanted to go to this fantastical stage where it didn’t matter if I had an instrument because the show must go on. Rene is the visual guy in this partnership and it was incredibly satisfying to work together with him on this video. It was our first endeavor making a music video together and we truly enjoyed putting it all together and we learned so much!
MM: Do you have any idea what the other music videos will look like?
TB: Yes, I know what the next three videos will look like! “Let’s Take the Subway” is a really fun video on a blue screen where it looks as if we are busking in the NYC subway, “Beats To a Measure” will be a hilarious video where I am dressed up as a symphony conductor, and “All The Blackbirds” will be a stop animation video made by a terrific artist I met a couple years ago named Lauren McRory, who is a professional puppet maker. That one is still in development and I truly cannot wait to see it!
MM: How do you hope your career evolves over the next five years?
TB: I hope that Melodeon Music House becomes established in schools and learning pods everywhere, helping young music enthusiasts (of all ages) find a joy and passion for learning – not only music theory but about the music in their hearts. I want people to find their joy in expression through music. I will continue to make Tracy Bonham (grown-up) albums and I would love for the same kind of energy to be exchanged there – where people find a way to feel deeply while listening to the music.
MM: What are your ultimate goals for the future and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
TB: My ultimate goals are to continue to grow and expand as a human being. I hope to continue to overcome personal obstacles with enthusiasm and excitement and hope to share this joy with those closest to me. I hope that I can be a good mother and teacher for my son.
Learn more about Tracy Bonham’s Melodeon Music House, please visit MelodeonMusicHouse.com To learn more about Tracy, visit TracyBonham.com. Check out the new “Me Symphony” music video: https://youtu.be/CpKXaZesVU4