On our way back to the van, while crossing the Grand River bridge, we heard a familiar voice off to the right, around an Ab-Nab-Awen mound, and down by the river side.
Immediately our family went running to the source of the sound. Why? It was our favorite children's song writer/author: Kevin Kammeraad.
His music is intuitively child-centric, and has this magical appeal that draws both parents and children alike into this world of crazy, calm, creative, deep, enlitening, silliness that only a child (or someone who was once a child) could understand and appreciate.
Our family has listened to his album, The Tomato Collection, over and over... in fact, his version of the ABC song is our families version!
He has written a number of children's books; one of which, entitled "This is a Square" is still one of my favorite and highly recommended books. It encourages abstract thinking in a young audience (hint hint - keep reading to see how you can get a free copy)
After watching his performance, singing along with all of the songs we knew, watching a puppet show, and starring in his song/parent play about Magooie Balooie and Achoogie Aboogie (yours truly was Mama Wizard while my forever-love was Magooie Balooie), I went down to his media tent to talk with him.
Me: Hi Kevin - I just wanted to introduce myself to you since our family basically stalks you.Kevin and his wife, Stephanie, have a heart for many organizations and causes: children, families, adoption, and education to name a few, and I, for one would love for him to be able to continue to give back to these worthy causes, fill the world with his music and writings, and spend the rest of his life working along side his beautiful wife...
Kevin: (nervous chuckle, pointed arm around his wife's shoulder).
Me: My daughter first saw you in 1st Grade and your music and writing has been a household fixture in our home ever since.
Kevin: (arm loosens and introductions all around - at which time I ask if I can interview him). Sure!
Me: When did you first start down this path?
Kevin: I was raised in Holland Michigan and went to GVSU, studying Film and Video Production. While at school, for a Christmas present, my grandmother gave me a journal. In that journal is where I began writing poems, drawings, thinking of ideas... That was about 1994 and that was the start of the Tomato Collection. Then, in 1999, I began travelling to schools, performing at festivals - that type of thing.
Me: So, I can assume you have a heart for kids?
Kevin: Instintually, it was just put on my heart - being creative; you know, the wonderment. I am a kid that never really grew up (smile) and, indirectly, working in film and video production, I just knew that this is what I wanted to do. It all simply unfolded from there.
Me: I know alot of your performances are at schools. Is this because you view your music and books as educational or did the schools start seeking you out?
Kevin: As I was writing the Tomato Collection, I began talking to other children's authors: James Strochen, Mark Herrick, and Tom Woodruff (Michigan authors and illustrators who mentored me). They gave me insight into travelling to schools to share my work. Then, I was invited to read at the Michigan Reading Association conference. At that point, through word of mouth, I began to attend schools as a way of showing my books to the group intended.
Me: My personal favorite, out of all of your songs, is the Natalie 'series'. If you had to pick one, what would your favorite be?
Kevin: It's hard to pick only one... Natalie is one of my favorites as well. Ahh, if I had to choose one, "The Sun Will Always Float" has always been a personal favorite, a meaningful song. Little Man Jay is a great one for silly humor.. Those are the two that stand out, one serious, one silly.
Me: What would your one hope be to be able to accomplish through all of this that you are doing?
Kevin: To be able to continue to do this, successfully working together with my wife.
“Kevin Kammeraad’s The Tomato Collection, The Big Album almost defies description, but I will try…The music ranges from gentle and thoughtful to wild and frenzied…[Kammeraad] nestles the fun and silly sides of being a kid in between the concerns and worries all children face. Each arrangement perfectly supports and illuminates the thoughts and emotions of the [poem]. This book and CD combination stands out, take the time to find it.” - Chicago Parent Magazine, February 2001, Review by Fred KochAnd guess what? I have something to GIVE AWAY! Here's what I want so that one of you can get an autographed copy of "This is a Square" (aka rules for entry):
- Check out Kevin's site and look through his works/listen to his music
- Create your own post on your own blog linking back to this giveaway... in your post, tell what you think of his music and books and provide a link to http://www.tomatocollection.com/as well.
- Post a Comment to my blog with what you liked about his site or works.
If you live in Michigan, Tennessee, Indiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Illinois, or Ohio, consider asking your local school to have Kevin come to perform for your child's school. You won't be dissapointed!