Kids are sponges for information. Their receptors are brand new and open to all concepts, which is why virulent ideas like racism and antisemitism are taught, not inherited. Musician Carrie Ferguson (no relation to Red Yarn/Andy Furgeson) timed the release of her new album, The Grumpytime Club, to coincide with “inclusion month” for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride. As a queer/gender non-conforming artist, Ferguson hopes to open ears by fostering dialogue about acceptance, using melodies and catchy lyrics that bring parents and their children into one blended audience.
Five years ago, Bob Schneider released THE L, a kid’s music album with tracks he’d been recording with his son over the entire course of the youngster’s life, from four years old to pre-teenage years. Ferguson ups the ante on The Grumpytime Club. “Tavi’s Song” was written nearly 20 years ago to celebrate the birth of Tavi, her best friend’s son. Now Tavi (and his brother, Aza) both play instruments and sing backup on the emotionally charged song and other tracks on the album. Aza also gets his own sweet piano ballad “Aza’s Song” on the album, with the refrain, “Never forget, you were made from love.”
While Ferguson has been writing and releasing family-friendly music for a decade, The Grumpytime Club serves as a set of gentle, decisive messages. As social justice warriors are demanding their place on the world stage, Ferguson’s songs teach welcoming and inclusive messages (accepting feelings, celebrating differences, and loving yourself exactly as you are). “Lend Me Your Glasses” talks about seeing what the world can see through other people’s eyes (and lives). Album-closer “Hope Parade” talks euphemistically about “people dressed in colors with different color flags,” clearly addressing the various causes and protests of our shared pandemic year. “The Best Way to Be” targets self-image and feeling good about yourself:
So I went to the mirror and smiled back at my face
Took a deep breath and said “This is my place.”
And I’m not afraid to be me
’cause I’m the only one I know how to be
And it’s plain to see
That the best way to be is to just be me
Messages are important, but the music also has to stand on its own merits. Ferguson confidently conveys a bucolic whimsy of “The Puppy Song (You and I)” and a mirthful klezmer feel on “Mishy Mashy Mushy Mooshy Moo.” The rocking “Do It Again” will have kids waving their arms and kicking their feet in the car seats, as well as demanding “play it again.” On The Grumpytime Club, Ferguson builds on her experiences and years of instructing children to create songs filled with depth, passion, poignancy, and social significance. She provides choruses for kids to sing along and join the growing “Hope Parade.” Ferguson has opened the doors of The Grumpytime Club and is eager to find receptive admirers.