essence's Children's Songs CD: 'A Dog Named Moo' a Perfect Holiday Gift for Kids & Kids-at-Heart

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Internationally acclaimed award-winning singer/songwriter, essence, self-produced an album of spirited children's songs inspired by her 3-year old son.

CD Cover Artwork

For a while I was making up little ditties and then one day it dawned on me that these were real songs...then everything became a song!

Just in time for holiday giving, this fourth album by essence (her real name uses a lower-case e), “A Dog Named Moo” is a collection of heartfelt songs as a gift of love for her son Rhys, who has been enjoying the lighthearted, humorous little ditties his mom’s been singing to him since he was born. It occurred to essence that other kids would enjoy them too, so she turned these real life rhymes into full songs and created her latest CD.

“I never set out to make a kid's record,” essence explains. “It was the furthest thing from my mind but when I had my son Rhys - I needed to find creative ways to engage him in everyday events like taking baths, getting dressed, or wearing a seat belt. For awhile I was making up little ditties and then one day it dawned on me that these were real songs. At first I was horrified because I wanted to make rock ‘n’ roll music, but what I realized is that I am a songwriter who writes about life, and becoming a mom has been the most profound experience - it has changed me forever. I find great satisfaction in capturing the joy I was experiencing with my son in songs. Then everything became a song!”

essence produced “A Dog Named Moo” by a grassroots method. She proved that making a quality album does not require a production company or a huge outlay of her own money. Through Kickstarter (video by Alex Hendricks), she reached out to her community asking if they would help fund her project. With the support of her friends and fans she was able to raise close to twenty thousand dollars allowing her to live her artistic dream. Most songs were co-written by Jeffrey Pease with illustrations by Alex Conn. The banjo, ukulele, guitars, upright bass and drums were played by instrumental extraordinaire Daniel Berkman. essence credits her management consultant Dick Wingate (Bruce Springsteen, Aimee Mann, Elvis Costello) and her ultimate influences – her cherished son and treasured father.

About essence: Billboard Magazine describes essence as “a singer, who, like Madonna, isn’t afraid to take musical chances.” A sixth generation San Francisco native, her parents were quintessential flower children from Haight-Ashbury. She traveled extensively, lived in Africa and Europe and went to 14 schools before fifth grade. Upon graduating from college, essence signed to a division of MCA Records. In 1998, she won The National Lilith Fair Talent Search (5,000 entries). essence was then signed to RCA records for three years and worked with producer Bill Bottrell (Michael Jackson, Sheryl Crow). With producer Garth May, she completed her critically acclaimed “Mariposa” record. Subsequently she signed with Or Music (Los Lonely Boys, Matisyahu) out of Manhattan. essence produced “Feels Like The Future” independently in 2009 which lead to winning the grand prize for the Great American Song Contest (15,000 entries), and second place in the International Song Writing Contest (2010). The title track was prominently featured on “Access Hollywood,” and several songs played live and recorded on the nationally syndicated “Art of the Song” (240 NPR affiliated stations).

essence has opened for Jason Mraz, Shawn Colvin, Tom Petty, Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant, Chrissie Hynde, Steve Miller, Linda Perry and the Indigo Girls. Essence’s voice and style has been compared to Jewel, Alanis Morrisette, Tori Amos and Imogen Heap. Her key inspirations are Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, Joni Mitchell and Willie Nelson. More information about essence can be found at http://www.essencemusic.com

About the full project: In addition to the CD, “A Dog Named Moo,” essence is creating “T REXXX!” as a book, “Everybody Has a Butt” as a smart phone app, and three videos (“T REXXXX!” in claymation, “Everybody Has a Butt” and “Yum Yum.”). Please stay tuned for details.

Purchase CD on http://www.adognamedmoo.com

Essence will be performing extensively to promote her “A Dog Named Moo” CD, book, app & videos – Performances can be arranged by going to her website http://www.adognamedmoo.com    

Songs on the album:
“A Dog Named Moo,” is about Rhys’ best friend, a 140-pound Newfoundland dog named Moo. essence says, “people think Moo looks like a cow or a giant panda bear; he’s the most charismatic and lovable dog in the world. Moo's a 'huge' part of our lives, no pun intended.”

“Gotta Wear Clothes,” is a song essence wrote to engage Rhys and motivate him to do everyday tasks like take a bath, get dressed, wear a seat belt, blow his nose, or eat his peas. One day it dawned on her it could be the first song of a kid's CD.

“T REXXXX!” was a request by Rhys; he was obsessed with Tyrannosaurus dinosaurs and wanted a song with pictures that moved. To satisfy his request, for the holidays essence is turning the spirited story into a book and a claymation animated video produced by award-winning producer Jennifer Steinman (Emerging Visions Audience Award - SXSW 2006), and animation by director Steve Girard.

“Everybody Has a Butt,” was co-written by Lara Miya Milrod and Jeffrey Pease. It’s a joke song about how we are all actually the same in so many ways. A music video and app produced by Alecs Petrovich is set for holiday release.

“Socks On My Ears,” was written to turn getting dressed into a game. Often Rhys would rather not wear clothes and loved running around naked. “Sometimes wrangling him into his clothes can take an hour,” essence says, “only to turn around five minutes later and find he's stripped them off and is running through the house in his birthday suit. This song makes wearing clothes a silly game because you wear all the pieces on the wrong parts.”

“Rocks n' Sand,” is actually, “Roxanne” by the Police and essence says, “Rhys dances all around the house singing it, except he thinks Sting is singing ‘rocks and sand.’ I decided to run with his inspiration and make a parody of the song from a kid's perspective about a day at the beach. It's an ironic twist on the original intense and dark lyrics, now so playful and innocent.”

“Comin' to Getcha!,” was co-written by her cousin Sim Bentel. It's about a game most kids love, "Hide & Seek." essence says, “I've spent endless hours seeking Rhys in his favorite hiding places – this song wrote itself!”

“You Are My Sunshine,” is the first song essence ever learned. Her dad taught it to her. She says, “it's about love, and impermanence, and cherishing those close to you. This song is dedicated to my father, who raised me on his own and was my best friend. He passed away suddenly and unexpectedly when I was pregnant. I also dedicate this song to my son. It is amazing how the cycle of life and love continues. I honor my father through loving my son.”

“Hey Kangaroo,” was written when Rhys was only 10 days old. It is her version of a love song for him. “I just looked at Rhys in my arms and started singing this song to him,” essence commented.

“Bird In Your Ear,” inspired by a verse in a Dr. Seuss book about animals making different sounds. When essence came up with these scenarios, the two of them laughed hysterically, so she made it into a song.

"Let’s Make A Pizza" was written by acclaimed singer-songwriter, Enzo Garcia. essence says, “Rhys and I have fun singing this song – kind of a modern take on ‘Patty Cake Patty Cake’ or ‘Peanut Butter & Jelly.’ He learned the words quickly and loves the hand movements that accompany the song. It's fun to sing over - it gets faster and faster and then even faster.”

“Yum Yum,” essence says is most likely the silliest song she’s ever written -“I don't know where it came from or what it's about. I was camping and sitting in my tent by the Yuba River. I was eating a cherry blow-pop and playing my guitar in the dark. The song emerged whole. I actually saw the words in front of my eyes. It’s just pure happiness, and I can see little figures dancing in my mind when I sing it.” Producer/engineer is Karl Derfler.

“When You Wish Upon a Star,” reminds essence of her childhood, watching Pinocchio and eating popcorn with her dad. essence says, “This song has always made me feel that anything can happen and all I have to do is will it to the universe. I believe this and want kids to know life has limitless possibilities. All they need to do is dream BIG … grownups, too. It's about the law of attraction.”

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Karin Conn

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