The Chickadee Story…
Award-winning environmental children’s music quartet The Chickadees are back with their second album: The Froggy Hop. The Chickadees are fronted by critically acclaimed Americana singer/songwriter Mary Karlzen. Karlzen, and her band mates – Anjl Rodee, Carmen Nickerson and Rosie Dempree – are growing with their audience and have begun a multi-media campaign to spread their message of environmentally conscious fun.
While The Chickadees’ Parent’s Choice award winning debut album, “Songs From The Great Outdoors” was aimed at preschoolers, “The Froggy Hop” is decidedly aimed at entertaining and enlightening big kids in their first few years of school. “Science was so boring for me as a kid and it made it hard for me to focus.” Karlzen explains. “I think a lot of kids have a hard time listening and learning basic facts. So why not make it fun? Learn the life cycle of a frog – and dance to it!”
In order to keep a firm hold on the attention span of school aged children being reared in the information age, The Chickadees enlisted former Simpsons animator Tim Decker, to create a series of videos – starting with the title track. In the “Froggy Hop” video, Karlzen, and The Chickadees cavort with enough cartoon tadpoles and frogs to make the most jaded kid both giggle with delight and forget they are technically learning something.
Karlzen is best known for her Atlantic Records album “Yelling At Mary” which was hailed coast-to-coast by notable US publications including: The Washington Post, People and Entertainment Weekly. In support of Yelling At Mary, she performed with Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne and The Indigo Girls. She found her new muse after slowing down her touring schedule to raise a family. Now the mother of two daughters, Karlzen says: “having kids changed my perspective on everything, including music.”
While her daughters attended the nature-based Schlitz Audubon preschool north of Milwaukee, Karlzen began to help out in the classroom, and soon afterwards her guitar found its way into the classroom. “This preschool is set in a vast nature center whose curriculum inspires and nurtures a love of nature and has fun doing it! So writing songs about these school experiences just came naturally.”
When Karlzen decided to take the songs a step further, she enrolled the talents of her friends, multi-instrumentalist Anjl Rodee and vocalist Carmen Nickerson. Nickerson was a little hesitant at first to jump into children’s music. “Our first show was so much fun! Sometimes it’s difficult to win over adult audiences, but the kids were so into it, bouncing around, having fun. It makes it fun for me too!” Nickerson adds. Rodee jumped right into the role. “It’s great to just get up there and be silly! How often do you get to do that?” Karlzen agrees. “From the first note, the kids looked like they were all on caffeine, bopping around off the walls. And I thought this is how music should feel. It was very liberating for me.”
The Chickadees’ aforementioned first cd, Songs from the Great Outdoors, quickly followed and won a coveted Parent’s Choice award in 2008. Songs from the Great Outdoors garnered airplay on many of the nation’s top children’s music shows, including the highly influential “Kid’s Corner” on Philadelphia’s WXPN. Kathy O’Connell, WXPN’s program director, enthused: “I had a lot of fun with The Chickadees!”
Fun is something The Chickadees never have in short supply. So to help spread their environmental joy around, they added keyboard wizard Rosie Dempre, a music therapist who migrated from New Orleans. With their sound now as full as a blue jay at a worm buffet, and a children’s television pilot in production – The Chickadees are ready to spread their wings and take The Froggy Hop worldwide.