When I attended elementary school, the fifth grade was tasked to sing the Carpenters’ hit “Sing” as part of a musical assembly. I had stopped watching Sesame Street a few years earlier and was stunned that so many of my classmates seemed to have internalized the song, which I later discovered was written by composer Joe Raposo. Since there was no Internet to download the tune or watch the video, I went to a local department store and plunked down 79 cents to buy the 45 record and learn the lyrics. It was infectious ear candy. Decades later, when I sorted through my “old 45s,” I decided to keep that tune.
Broadway performer Rena Strober also kept that tune, as well as a host of others, for a new compilation paying tribute to Raposo and fellow Street composer Jeff Moss, Imagine That! Some listeners may know Strober from her stage work, including productions of “Fiddler on the Roof,” however younger audiences probably got their first exposure to her on the Disney Channel’s “Liv & Maddie” playing Liv’s manager Becky Bickelhoff.
Strober uses her expressive vocals on such favorites as the title track, “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon,” “Being Green,” and “Imagination.” Theatrical collaborators French Stewart and Jason Alexander guest on “I’m Pretty/I’m an Aardvark,” and Alexander also duets on “Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers.” Strober also brings the “Blind Soprano” opera singer Cristina Jones and DOTZ, The Blind Children’s Choir, along for the ride.
Strober’s life and career have been inspired by performers with vision impairment, and she’s chosen to release Imagine That! during National Guide Dog Month. A portion of the proceeds from all digital and hard copy sales of the album will go to Guide Dogs of America as well as the Gavin R. Stevens Foundation, whose mission is to find a treatment and cure for blindness, with a focus on Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA).
Here is a video of Rena Strober performing “Bein’ Green”: