Music created for kids falls into one of two categories: the teeth-achingly simpy or the headache-inducing covers of pop songs rehashed for the diaper set (Kidz Bop, anyone?). Seattle musician and composer Eli Rosenblatt instead creates empowering, fun, heartfelt music for kids that ignites their imaginations. He tells us what inspires him to do this.
What made you decide to start creating music for kids?
At the age of 28, after having made my living as a professional musician for about three years playing Salsa music in bars/clubs, I had a sort of early life crisis and dropped out of the music scene. During this time I worked in a Montessori preschool and then in an in-home preschool as an assistant. During this time, I started bringing my guitar and playing for the kids and seeing the effect that music had on them; the pure joy and freedom that my music created in a room full of kids. I never really made a conscious decision — it just sort of started happening.
What are the most important themes in your music?
The most important theme in my music is definitely love. I know this is a vague, controversial, ambiguous, cliched, over-used and abused word, but that’s the truth. When I’m playing in a room full of children and I feel free and they feel free and I feel safe and they feel safe and their parents see this happening and we all just feed off of each other, the word to describe what is happening is LOVE. In my song “Sunshine” I talk about the sun shining its light on everyone. That is what I’m trying to enable myself and my audiences to do in our time together!
“Have you ever noticed that the sun does not discriminate / she shines on everyone / she doesn’t care about your color, your religion or your race / or the size of your body, or the shape of your face”
Growing up, did your parents expose you to music? What was the best advice they ever gave you?
Yes! The recordings that stick in my mind are Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” Bob Marley’s compilation album “Legend,” Grieg’s “Peer Gynt” and Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant.” I feel that more than any particular advice my parents gave me, it was more their example of never ceasing to question, love and grow as human beings that has stuck with me more than anything.
Besides your own music, what do you feel are three essential albums for kids under age 10 and over age 10?
I’m going to go with the same ones I grew up with, “Peer Gynt,” “Legend” and “Graceland.” In these three pieces there is so much groove, narrative, innovation and emotion, it is absolutely staggering.
What annoys you most about popular kids’ music today?
I am fortunate to live in Seattle where there is actually a lot of really quality music for children, so I have to say that nothing really comes to mind.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?
That is a hard question. I guess I would have to say the moments of deep human connection, communication and love that I experience at a really good show are really the peak. I also really enjoy composing as well as the process of collaborating with my musical family to bring my music to life.
You can download Eli’s Elephant Car here.