Sunday, April 25, 2010

Natalie Merchant Sets Children's Poems to Music

from Alida Allison...

Natalie Merchant, Ghost Ghost: Setting Poems to MusicBy Rocco Staino -- School Library Journal, 4/19/2010 2:05:00 PM
Natalie Merchant and the Brooklyn indie band Ghost Ghost have each made a musical contribution to National Poetry Month that may also help teachers and librarians expose their students to poets and their poems. Merchant, who was lead singer in the alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs before going solo in 1993, released her latest album “Leave Your Sleep” (Nonesuch, 2010) on April 13th. The 26-track album is based on a collection of songs adapted from poems by Jack Prelutsky, Edward Lear, Ogden Nash, e.e. cummings, and Robert Louis Stevenson, and is inspired by Merchant’s desire to expose her young daughter to complex poetry. The singer/songwriter says poetry has a larger and more vivid life when it’s set to music.
“Leave Your Sleep is the most elaborate project I have ever completed or even imagined,” Merchant explains. “Nearly seven years ago I set out to create a piece of work I hoped could capture the universal experience of childhood through poetry and music.” The album spans the musical spectrum­and includes jigs, jazz, and klezmer. In addition to setting Lear’s “ Calico Pie” and Prelutsky’s “ Bleezer’s Ice Cream” to music, she researched more obscure Victorian and early-20th-century poets who were children themselves or who wrote for children. One includes “ Janitor Boy,” written by child prodigy Nathalia Crane in 1923 at the age of 10. The somber poem “ Spring and Fall to a Young Child” by the Victorian Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, explains death to a child, and is also set to music.

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