MaryLee has created an enchanting collection of Halloween songs for the Pre-school - Kindergarten set (ages 4-6 years) with plenty of sing-alongs and echos—magic for increasing literacy and language skills. She has a knack for choosing folksy favorites and writing songs that you think you’ve heard before: catchy, sing-able melodies and repeatable phrases that get young children singing.
On “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” and “Six Ghosts” her clear voice skates over a “voicestra” of “boom-da-boom’s” and “rat-a-tats” that are one part Bobby McFerrin and two parts Swingle Singers. To this she’s added “boo’s,” “eek’s” and maniacal laughter —just enough for shivers but not enough to frighten.
Teachers will be sure to use the title cut: “1,2,3—Boo!” plus “Goin’ On A Hayride,” “Old Mother Hobble Gobble,” and “Dingle Dangle Scarecrow” on rainy October days. They’ve got plenty of motions built in with easy, repeatable lyrics. The playful jump-rope chant “Hey, Sinè-nè” (Irish Gaelic for “This is it!”) was written about a friend’s dog adopted from an animal rescue group.
“Johnny Appleseed” sounds like a tribute song to MaryLee’s touring years with Randy Sparks and the Back Porch Majority. Somehow she put The New Christy Minstrels’ sound together (solo) and told the entire story of the barefooted man who planted apple trees while walking all over New England and “way out west” to Ohio. It’s pure 1960’s folk music.
“Dia De Los Muertos” (Day of the Dead) springs from MaryLee’s 2008 California Library Tour to Santa Barbara where November 1 is the day Mexican-American children honor the dead by singing songs, dancing and decorating the graves of their ancestors with food and flowers. If there can be a positive spin on death, somehow MaryLee has hit just the right notes here. And after all—isn’t death the subject matter in October? The death of the trees and leaves, the dead that haunt us? It’s a light touch on a heavy subject and easy to dance along. Another Mexican inspired song is “De Colores” which sings of the beautiful colors of “el otono” (the autumn). The original version celebrated the colors of “la primavera” (the spring)—but it’s such a pretty, musical change we can only be grateful to hear MaryLee’s lilting voice singing in Spanish on this last cut.
The instrumentation throughout the album is acoustic guitar, recorder and lots of voice work. It’s a singer’s approach that inspires others to sing; a rare gift. All lyrics and activities are posted on MaryLee’s website: www.maryleemusic.com