“I ended up writing ‘I Am Kind’ and sent it to her,” she wrote in a text to The Globe. “I had no idea that this would be the title song of my first children’s album and that Raffi would produce it.”
On Friday, she released “Frogs and Birds”, her second album of collaborations with Raffi since the album “I Am Kind”, winner of the National Parenting Product Award 2020. The musicians have been working remotely during the pandemic. Their instant connection and creative chemistry made it a surprisingly smooth process. Munroe, 38, recorded songs in Massachusetts and emailed them to Raffi, who lives in Canada. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma joined them for “For All You Do,” a song dedicated to essential workers.
“We work so well together,” said Munroe, who lives in Medford. “Raffi is such a good mentor. “
Growing up listening to Raffi, Munroe dreamed of becoming a children’s musician. “Baby Beluga” was and still is her favorite Raffi song, and it was her mother who inspired her to start playing the violin at the age of 5.
“My mom took me to the music store thinking about buying a cello, and my legs were too small for even the smallest cello,” Munroe said. “I left with a violin that day.
She eventually added piano, flute and guitar to her repertoire. His favorite musician? Janis Ian, whose album “Between the Lines” she received as a gift from her grandfather.
“Ian’s songwriting is honest,” Munroe said. “Her voice is beautiful and her lyrics are poetry to me.”
Munroe was a full-time stay-at-home mom when she started writing and performing her folk music at local venues in 2016. Her children were diagnosed with autism 2.5 years apart, and she knew they were needed his care and attention at home. She wrote during the day while her children were in school and occasionally led children’s songs in preschools and libraries in New England. His composition turned to children’s music after meeting Raffi.
Sometimes it has been difficult to raise neurodiversified children. Mem wears a leg warmer to help her walk, and a structured routine around the house is essential to ensure everyone’s needs are met. Music is an integral part of Munroe’s parenthood. The family are seated around the living room with ukuleles, a drum and shakers, and they play together to relax. They sometimes take their instruments out on a hike.
“Every family has challenges,” she said. “For me, it’s just kind of a normal, normal way of life.”
Jack, 13, Emma, 11 and Mem are their own musicians. Jack plays guitar and bass. Emma is a “fabulous songwriter” who composes on her ukulele, and Mem can often be heard singing with her mother.
“They are the most unique, caring, creative and amazing people I know,” Munroe said. “In their lifetime, I want them to be loved and fully accepted for who they are.”
The dominant themes in Munroe’s music are kindness, inclusion and acceptance. She wants to teach listeners that it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s good to ask for help. She writes music that teaches rhythm and melody, incorporates pre-literacy language skills, and encourages emotional self-regulation.
“If you want to have a song in your head all day, it should have some kind of positive impact,” she said.
“Frogs and Birds” accompanies the program of the Bridges Learning System, an organization that creates educational materials for students with autism and neurodiverse. The title song, a duet between Munroe and Mem, teaches children to be aware of other people’s feelings and the differences in their thoughts and preferences.
“I really like frogs,” Munroe sings in “Frogs and Birds.” “What animal do you like?”
“Gee, thanks for asking about me,” Mem sings back. “Birds are my favorite, you see. “
To teach children the emotional nuances of facial expressions, Munroe wrote “Faces Show Our Feelings” and to teach them the range of their emotions, she wrote “Feelings Like the Weather”. Munroe’s favorite song from the recording is “Flexible and Easy-going”.
“We could all learn to be a little more flexible and easy going,” she said. “This is such an important message for the children.
It will be a busy week for Munroe as she prepares for the release of “Frogs and Birds” and the return of her children to school. She was eager to tour with Raffi when her debut album came out, but these concerts are on hold until next summer. As schools and public places open up, she hopes to return to singing in person.
“I can’t wait,” she said. “I like to connect with the children in the audience. I miss it so much. “
“Frogs and Birds” will be released on August 27 on Troubador. It is available for pre-order on https://found.ee/lm-frogsandbirds.
Kyung Mi Lee can be contacted at [email protected]