"Ugly Duckling" Video by Patti Austin Allows Kids to Listen to Music While Reading the Words

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Patti Austin reboots the classic, "The Ugly Duckling," as a modern fairy tale where children can listen to music to spark conversations between parents and young children about bullying, diversity, love and forgiveness.

You should be you. I should be me. That's the way the world's supposed to be.

Grammy winner and international entertainer, Patti Austin and Grammy winner Taro Meyer will roll out a series of engaging and humorous musical children's stories beginning November 3, 2016. The beautifully illustrated tales will explore the themes and values –– such as bullying, diversity, sharing and acceptance –– that today’s young children are discovering at home, in school and in media. Plans call for six stories re-envisioned from the classics: “Rap, Rap, Rap, Rapunzel,” “Little Red Riding Hood," “Rumplestiltskin,” “Pinocchio,” “The Little Red Hen,” and “The Ugly Duckling.” With these tales, children can listen to music matched to the story in videos and read the matching ebooks.

“The Ugly Duckling” was chosen to launch the brand because the issue of bullying is so timely. In this fresh interpretation, ‘U.G.’, the duckling, is happy at the end of the story not because he becomes the most beautiful swan, but because his family comes to accept each other and respect their differences! “Bullying” is replaced by “Inclusion” and the story ends with a joyful celebration of love and acceptance.

Illustrated by Lance Jackson, the watercolor paintings bring the charming characters to life. The e-book offers an exclusive bonus version narrated by Patti Austin with a tour-de-force of vocal characterization that’s perfect for a bedtime story.

Ms. Austin began performing at age four and understands how to reach kids through her art. She recorded the Grammy nominated Return to Pooh Corner with Kenny Loggins and is excited to launch her new children’s brand which enables children to listen to music and read along. She is passionate about mentoring young people and leads the nationally acclaimed youth mentoring program, “Over My Shoulder.” Through her years as a mentor-ambassador, she has seen first-hand the powerful impact music and story-sharing has on shaping lives and values.

“The Ugly Duckling” and forthcoming ebooks in this series was developed to help bring families together to share the core values that contribute to making a kinder, wiser world. The musical album, Mighty Musical Fairy Tales, is being released this fall.

“We believe that when kids get these positive messages early, especially through music, the values can stick with them through life,” Austin says. “Kids today are really cool. They love a great story and good music and they want to join in. Every parent who has played the album for their kids says they start dancing and singing right away. That kind of engagement is priceless! And it opens the door for conversation between parent and young child in an engaging manner.”

“The Ugly Duckling” and all the songs and stories from The Mighty Musical Fairy Tales were created and written by Grammy winning audio producer/director Taro Meyer with her daughter, audio award winning actress Ari Meyers. Taro has focused on children’s audio entertainment for many years and Ari, a former child actress herself, writes for kids and created a charitable organization, “My Purpose Party,” which focuses on mentoring young people towards creativity, self-expression and giving to others. Arrangements of the musical versions are by Emmy award- winning theatrical composer Doug Katsoris.

The idea of making fairy tales relevant to contemporary families is the brainchild of Meyer. A line she’s written in “The Ugly Duckling” – “You should be you. I should be me. That’s the way everyone’s supposed to be” – can be sung by children everywhere.

Patti Austin and Taro Meyer will be launching a book reading and performance tour of schools.

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