Pamela Kay Hawkins began writing children’s music in the late 1990s. She’d just become a grandmother and singing lullabies to her granddaughter was just the beginning. Years later, her work as a musician has reached that all-important stage of a CD release. She retells the steps of this journey in her blog.
It would be a mistake to judge the quality of her music by the appearance of her blog, or the writing in it, because whilst Pamela might not be a blogger, she clearly is a musically gifted, loving parent and grandmother. She is also a devout Christian and highly driven, entrepreneurially-spirited woman who has worked hard to promote her CD, despite some early pitfalls.
The CD has ten songs, presented first as full versions sung by various artists and the second time as instrumentals. One of the artists, Joseph Tygart, is of an adorably young age and despite it, presents real blues-singer stagemanship on the track “Rocking-Horse Blues”. Most of the songs feature the vocals of either Meredith Lee Easley (whose voice is good and clear, if somewhat school-matronly), or John Weller, whose strong but soothing tones exude a homely and comforting aura.
The titular track on Rockin’ the Day Away feels like the theme tune to a children’s programme on television or radio. It isn’t particularly memorable in its own right, but opens the stage for what is yet to come. The whole collection could be summarised as “simple, fun and entertaining,” which is surely not a bad thing when talking about music aimed at children and their parents, relatives, teachers and companions.
“Walkin’ Around” has a simple melody and creates a strong visual of a mum, a dad, or a favourite auntie frog-marching an infant around the room on their tootsies. The unimaginative lyrics are a little disappointing: “We’re walkin’ around, to see what there is to see“. It’s the sort of song that any parent could have made up during the daily chores; perhaps a tip of the hat to the roots of Pamela’s music creation.
“Love-A-Kitty” is an amusing and entertaining storybook song about love for cats, and one particular puss that runs away for a while, returns and then mysteriously multiplies! The tune also scores highly on the stuck-in-the-head-o-meter. One week and counting. It might end up on infinite repeat in a kiddie household, a la Maggie Simpson’s demands in the Roofi song episode where Springfield’s children turn into a rampaging mob.
“Where are the yeses”; an antithesis to the Christmas classic Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, perhaps, is a witty take on what it’s like to always be told NO. It made me smile, particularly because the “Don’t touch!” dialogue is so familiar to me from work – everything in my shop is so fragile that the soundtrack of frantic parents forbidding their children to so much as breathe near the shelves is a permanent accompaniment to any working day.
“Baby-Shaped Hole in My Heart” tips the saccharine scale a little too far for me, but John’s delivery rescues the song somewhat and the overall impression is that of a genuine relationship.
The instrumentals are a winner for me, and would provide a soothing background track to any children’s activity, be it a pyjama party, playtime with parents, or indeed, a session with the colouring booklet that comes with the CD – to call it a colouring book is a little misleading, as it’s really just the booklet that comes with the CD with printed song lyrics accompanied by illustrations, but the idea is there and I am sure some of the slightly older children might be able to work with it without tearing the thin paper, or going completely outside the lines. In fact, none of that probably matters too much, as long as there is some fun to be had.
It seems that the CD is somewhat mis-marketed in its presentation – the “colouring book” isn’t the only thing that didn’t turn out to be quite what I expected. Nowhere on the cover does it clearly state that this is a Christian recording. As I am an agnostic, I would have felt disappointed if I’d purchased this product just on its description as a children’s music CD.
When “Life Is a River” belted out like a fine example of a Sunday School song, I cringed, but not as much when in “Time for Sleep” – an otherwise sweet lullaby – the chorus went: “Mommy loves you, daddy does too, Jesus loves you most of all.” Hoo boy.
Interestingly, I found the Christian-themed songs lyrically and musically the weakest. Maybe a case of the message drowning the songs a little.
This CD will be a sure hit with people for whom educating their children about how much Jesus loves them is a paramount component of good parenting. I say this as a sincere recommendation, but also to inform those who, like me, would have been less enthused about that aspect of this recording.
If the producers could have swung to the direction of the fun storytelling found in “Love-a-kitty” and “Rocking-Horse Blues” style collaborations with talented young tykes, this CD would have had wider appeal. As it stands, it left me feeling a little dissatisfied, as though I’d gone through a strange Franken-mishmash of children’s music and Christian propaganda.