“How are you feeling?” seems like the simplest question that a person can ask, especially to a child.
Coming on the heels of a nearly two-year global pandemic, social distancing, remote learning, and the recent 20th anniversary of 9/11, the answer is not quite as rudimentary as one might expect – especially from children, who may not have the verbal toolset to adequately express their emotions. The year 2020 delivered a master class in collective emoting, from Black Lives Matter to LGBTQ rights to Defund the Police (as the monarch in The King and I says, “etcetera, etcetera”).
Brooklyn-based children’s recording artist Amelia “Mil” Robinson addresses parental concerns about kids bottling up their feelings with her latest collection, Let It Out! Amelia and a host of artists, including Uncle Jumbo, Divinity Roxx, Kymberly Stewart, and Pierce Freelon, contribute to songs that encompass the full spectrum, from anger (“Punch a Pillow” with Jumbo) to seeing things from other people’s perspectives (“I Wanna Know” also with Jumbo) to frustration (“Let My Have My Feelings” with Freelon) and much more.
Under the direction of kids’ über producer Dean Jones, Robinson and company present a unified, upbeat front to the most divisive topics. The Trumpian “good people on both sides” gets parsed as “Agree To Disagree,” a tune about coming to terms with never seeing eye-to-eye on certain topics. Offering comfort when that’s the only option (for kids demanding answers to the unknown, such as “when will this pandemic end”) gets a gentle lullaby in “How Could I Possibly Know.” When the ponderous becomes too much, Robinson and Jumbo explain how it’s still okay to dance on the first single, “Disco Rain.”
Robinson used her previous three CDs to develop a teaching curriculum called Messy Music, which builds social emotional skills through judgment- and criticism-free creativity. The songs on Let It Out! will become a primary source of teachable tools later this fall. Everyone has emotions and they need to be expressed. Let It Out! offers a font of straightforward, genial suggestions for young listeners. Parents can also unearth a few truths about their own feelings. Good mental hygiene shouldn’t need to be coerced – let it out, organically.