Hot on the heels of her 2011 Parents’ Choice® Silver Honor Award winning CD, Cousins Jamboree, independent children’s musician Hope Harris is excited to embark on a lively new adventure into the world of art with the release of Picasso, That’s Who! (And So Can You!). The album takes kids and families through a tuneful celebration of 19th and 20th century visual artists, offering musical mini-lessons in art appreciation and encouraging listeners to pick up a brush or a crayon and try creating art!
Expertly produced by Rob Friedman, co-producer of the Dan Zanes family albums, Picasso, That’s Who! (And So Can You!) invites kids to hop a train with Romare Bearden, action paint like Jackson Pollock, take a line for a walk with Paul Klee, jump off the diving board into a painting by David Hockney, look closely at the petals of a flower like Georgia O’Keeffe, and more.
Every one of Hope Harris’ songs is graced with an energy that encourages further artistic exploration in both learning about and creating art. The title track of Picasso, That’s Who! (And So Can You!) is appropriately colored with vibrant Spanish rhythms, melodies, and instruments and asks, “Who as a boy loved to draw? Born in Spain, doodled all that he saw.” A funky retro rock ‘n’ roll ‘60s groove that’s sure to move listeners to action describes the free spirit of Jackson Pollock’s art in sound. Lots of bluegrass pickin’ expresses Grandma Moses, Alexander Calder receives a cool jazz treatment, and Georgia O’Keeffe’s vision is conveyed through a gentle waltz with soothing cello harmonies. Paul Klee’s song, “Dot in Motion,” has a solid roots rock feel, while “Impression Monet” (decorated with the distinctive sound of a French accordion) gives one the feel of floating down the Seine. Songs about David Hockney, Romare Bearden, and Henri Matisse round out the album, each offering a distinctive change of pace.
Says Hope Harris, “With Picasso, That’s Who! (And So Can You!) my goal is to spark curiosity and inspire creativity. I want kids to look at the world around them, be motivated to visit art galleries and museums, and to realize that artists are everywhere making all kinds of art. I’d like to say to every child who hears this music, ‘Now it’s your turn … paint it, glue it, draw it, mix it, try it! All the artists on this album did, and you can, too! It doesn’t have to be perfect. Use your imagination and have some fun!’”
In addition to winning a Parents’ Choice® Silver Honor Award, Hope Harris’ Cousins’ Jamboree was honored with inclusion in Education.com’s “Best Children’s Music of 2011.” Parents Magazine called Cousins Jamboree a ”fun mix of rock, folk, jazz, and swing,” and Scholastic Parent & Child selected the album as one of its “Fun Finds,” writing, “Songs for mischievous monkeys and an otter that ‘wraps up in the kelp’ turn little ones into piles of giggles, but crazy confessions in ‘I Am an Alien’ take the cake.” Midwest Book Review enthused, “Highly recommended … A great pick for children’s gift baskets, car trips with little ones, or just plain old family listening fun.”
The compelling lyrics to the songs on Picasso, That’s Who! (And So Can You!) will form a large part of the album’s appeal for both families and educators. When Hope Harris sings, “Who changed the world’s point of view/Painting triangles, circles and cubes?/Inventing new ways one could paint as he grew” and then pays tribute to Picasso’s strength of conviction by declaring, “He painted his own way/Didn’t care what they might say/He painted from his heart/Making magic through his art,” she sparks admiration for and curiosity about the artist’s creative spirit and his extraordinary life. In “A-C-T-I-O-N,” Hope declares “I wanna paint like Jackson Pollock/I wanna free color from the line/I wanna paint like Jackson Pollock/I wanna drip it, drizzle, flick it all the time/I’m gonna pour paint straight out of the can/I want A-C-T-I-O-N/I’m gonna throw away the easel/I’m gonna spread the canvas out on the floor/Get in it from all directions/More energy than ever before/I’m gonna make some handprints, mix in sand/I want A-C-T-I-O-N.” Every song on Picasso, That’s Who (And So Can You!) similarly inspires young listeners to create their own art in an original way.
A graduate of the University of Virginia and, later, the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre, Hope Harris spent many years living and performing in NYC, appearing both on and off Broadway, in regional and stock productions across the country, and even doing stints at venues like Nashville’s famed Bluebird Café. A crowning success in the kids’ realm was her starring appearance, for three years running, as “Baker Bobbie” for the Park Slope, Brooklyn, Chocolate Chip Chamber Music Series, for which she is also a contributing scriptwriter. Hope now lives with her family in Richmond, VA but returns often to NYC to perform.