Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Music Notes: Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights- What a Zoo and I'm a Rock Star CD Reviews (+ free music download)

 Get ready for a rockin' good time with Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights!  Oh, my goodness!  Joanie has an amazing voice and writes super cool lyrics and tunes.  And not only that, she is highly creative.  On What a Zoo, Joanie wrote a song called Happy As a Clam with over 40 "animal-isms" like "You're as happy as a clam; you're a puppy in love, you lucky duck."  It was truly the highlight of the album for me.  What a Zoo also sports several other animal songs with Joanie's funky twist that not only is fun, but educational too.  And after each song in her lyrics insert she gives a little background and an activity idea to go along with the song.
 I'm A Rock Star is another jazzed up musical adventure where Joanie reaches out to kids in their interests and creates an atmosphere of rock star imagination.  She is not shy is expressing herself and encourages kids to step out and try new things.  I really enjoyed the parent/teacher tips in the lyrics insert.  Joanie's songs make you want to move, shake and just relax in silly ways.  What a fun way to spend an afternoon- listening and dancing to Joanie's music.
Interview with Joanie:
1. Describe your music and lyric writing process.

I almost always think of a theme or title that I want to write about and then try to think about lyrics from a child's perspective. Sometimes a story will click in my head and the song will honestly write itself. With a theme in mind, I usually write the lyrics and music at the exact same time, which is a bit strange. It just happens! I know many songwriters write the words then set it to music but I have this strange ability to not write a song for months but when I get motivated I'll sit down and write 5 in a day. Some of my tunes lately are assignments that have worked in my favor. For example, in the spring I played in at the San Jose Children's Discovery Museum and they were having Bicycle Safety Week.
I thought to myself 'Hmm, I have no songs about bikes...I'll write one" and from that came an awesome tune I penned called Helmet. My new song Falling came from meeting a music placement agent who was looking for tunes about Autumn for a commercial. I cooked that up in about 20 min and was in the studio the next day. Sadly, it didn't make it in the commercial, but I hope to put it on my upcoming album and who knows what 'back to school ad' may discover it in the future!

2. What is your earliest music memory?
With the help of 70's-80's technology, I have some old cassette tapes of me singing The Wheels on the Bus and tunes of the like as a little 1 year old. My mom has them in storage but we listened to them about a decade ago and it was wild! They also have pictures of me singing "Tomorrow" at my 2 year old birthday party in front of everyone. I grabbed the party performers mic and went for it. They should have known what my future would bring from that day, and honestly, I think they did!

3. What is your favorite part about performing your music?
I used to perform for grownups in bars and looking back, I realize that I was terrified for a decade. I never really felt comfortable in my own skin. I would get so nervous I would get panic attacks before I took the stage and it took a few songs to calm down. While I loved singing, it was just not the right venue for me. Now, performing for kids, it a totally different feeling. I just get up there with no nerves and a big smile on my face ready to make families dance. Its a perfect fit and I'm so glad I fell into it the way I did. You hear people use the word "calling" and I honestly feel like I found mine, especially when I get off stage and realize that I've brought so much joy to children and their families. It's such a huge feeling. I have the best job in the whole world!

4. What project are you working on right now?
Well, that's a very big question these days! I am getting married in one month and with out a doubt, that's a project in and of itself. Along with wedding planning I have been writing songs for an album I hope to start after the new year. I would love to release it before the summer but I don't have any set dates as of now. I have about 10 songs written and I love where they are going. I'd like to write a few more so there is a selection for my producer to choose from when I start pre-production but it's a very good start considering I have bride-brain!

Thank you, Joanie, and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!  We look forward to your next music project.

*I was provided with free copies of these CD's through Waldmania.  All opinions expressed are my own.  No compensation was received for this review.*

  "Joanie Leeds is that cool babysitter who would let you try on her lip gloss once your mom left the house.  You idolized her, and your mom knew she could trust her.  That's Joanie.  Only she's also likely to completely ROCK THE ROOF OFF YOUR HOUSE!" -- Mindy Thomas, Program Director, Sirius/XM's Kids Place Live

"Leeds has one of those big, beautiful rock 'n roll sopranos that can go full-out or soft and gender, and she uses it to full effect.  Her tuneful melodies and rich, funny and thoughtful child-respecting lyrics give depth and irresistible zip to songs." -- Parents' Choice Gold Award review of Joanie Leeds' I'm a Rock Star



NEW YORK -- Multi-award-winning independent children's musician Joanie Leeds loves the fall!  In fact, Joanie's so happy that her favorite time of year is here, she's written a new song -- "Falling" -- in celebration of the season, and she's offering it as a free download to her fans.

Says Joanie, "'Falling' is a tune about a season I didn't know very well growing up in Miami, Florida.  Now that I'm a Northern girl, I find that I adore the changing of the seasons, and autumn is so beautiful that I had to write about falling in love with the crunching leaves under my feet and the changing colors over my head. My new album is in the middle of being written, so here is something to hold ya'll over for a few months.  Enjoy!"

Joanie Leeds is a singer/songwriter who leads the nationally touring kindie rock band, Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights.  She has been honored with a Parents' Choice Gold Award, a NAPPA Gold Award, and an Independent Music Award for Best Children's Song; she was also a finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest.  People Magazine, Parents Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Sirius/XM's Kids Place Live, and WXPN's Kids Corner all agree:  Joanie rocks!

"Falling" is now available to the general public as a free download at:


and at:

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