The London Games are over
Some of us are experiencing a post-Olympics let down. The Games of the London Olympics are over, but their inspiring stories live on.
Every couple of years, the world sends its best athletes to a place where they can come out and play for a couple of weeks. We watch. We fall in love with the humble, the brilliant and the flashy competitors. We envy the bold and daring, we chide the egocentrics, and we weep with the victors whose life-long dreams have finally come true.
Did you see the TV commercial about a Russian girl who dreamt of being a gymnast? She grew too tall. Heartbreak? No. She used her height to her advantage, tweaked the dream, and became one of the best pole-vaulters in the world.
Did you notice how often Russian and American athletes actually hugged each other? There was a time, not too many Olympics ago, when we Americans and Russians believed we were enemies, when an advertisement about a Russian pole-vaulter here in The US would have been considered inappropriate and un-American.
The Miracle on Ice
I attended the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, NY. The night of the Miracle on Ice when the US amateur hockey team defeated the dominant Soviet team, I was performing in concert a few hundred yards away. I will never forget the wild, well-mannered joy of that night’s celebration. The young and the old hung from lampposts and danced in the streets waving American flags at a time when it was not cool to be so openly patriotic.
A day or two later, I attended the bronze medal hockey consolation match. Little did I know a most memorable medal ceremony would immediately follow the game. Yes, I was there when those ecstatic American hockey players, draped in American flags, jubilantly received their gold medals.
I also attended the outdoor speed skating event in Lake Placid where Eric Heiden won his unprecedented fifth and final gold medal. In the bleachers, not far from where I was standing, a small group of ankle-length fur coat-clad Soviets cheered “Veek-tor! Veek-tor! Veek-tor!” for one of their compatriots.
They were seriously outnumbered by the rest of us. We Americans could have shouted them down with “Eric! Eric! Eric!” Instead, we cast suspicious glances at them and kept our distance.
If that Olympic event had happened recently, we would have gone out of our way to welcome them. We would have snapped pictures and swapped email addresses. In no time, we would have been making plans to visit each other in our homes half a world away from each other.
A Friendlier World
More and more of the world is becoming this way – friendly and welcoming. Walls between nations keep coming down. Bridges connecting us to each other are rising up.
Our world is getting friendlier. I have travelled enough to sense this. We human beings are growing up. We are better than ever at getting along with each other. More and more of us choose to see that we could be enriched, not threatened, by our differences.
I loved these past two Olympic magical weeks. Our young ones, our dreamers, showed the world how much fun it can all be, if we could just play by a few simple rules.
Now I have to wait two years before the next Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. I wonder if Veek-tor will be there. Maybe I’ll go look for him.
American Heroes #4 - A CD and a Book!
"I speak with people, not to them" is what Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) said when asked why he preferred not to give speeches. I often feel that way as I prepare these newsletters for you. Like Geisel, I'm not strong with the horn-tooting. I'm better one-on-one.
Yes, my books. Some day soon. My passion for sharing inspiring information about heroes with our kids continues to grow. Lately, I have been writing stories about each of the ten heroes on my forthcoming CD/Book. And, yes, I've decided, with the help of those of you who responded to the last newsletter, to make one book to correspond with the new album/CD.
Theodore Seuss Geisel
Think about Theodore Seuss Geisel, the first of ten heroes on American Heroes #4.
Did you know.....
* He had a wicked case of stage fright? It all began when he was 14 years old. He and nine fellow Boy Scouts were to receive medals from former President Theodore Roosevelt in front of a crowd of thousands. Ted was last in line. Someone screwed up and brought only nine medals. Poor Ted was whisked off stage to avoid embarrassing the President. It was not a good self-esteem moment.
* Twenty-seven publishers rejected his first book. (Sound a little like Elizabeth Blackwell?)
* Geisel's forty-seven books were translated into twenty languages and have sold more than 200 million copies. Among the ten bestselling hardcover children's books of all time, four were written by him: The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and Hop on Pop.
* To children of all ages, Dr. Suess remains the most famous and influential name in children's literature.
* His honors included two Academy awards, two Emmy awards, a Peabody award and the Pulitzer Prize.
Jimmy Hammer and I have written an appropriately zany song about this most unusual guy.
American Heroes #4 – the CD
For the past 18 months, I’ve been at work researching and writing songs about another ten great American heroes. It’s been a labor of love which has included reading more than 100 books, working with co-writer Dave Kinnoin and doing countless re-writes and edits. My goal: all songs written by January 2012. We’re hoping to release the album in 2013. The excitement is building. More to follow…
Steve Jobs, American Hero
With the recent passing of Steve Jobs, we’ve lost a great American hero. He was a brilliant visionary -- a blender of art and technology -- who helped make life easier and more enjoyable for millions. I marvel every day at the amazing things my iPhone can do, and I predict, as we get some distance from his life and gain a better understanding of all that he did, more of us will see him as a great hero. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life … Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”— Steve Jobs, 2005
Yours truly has recently discovered YouTube. I know. I’m one of the last. Over the past year, with the help of a couple of techno YouTube-savvy computer experts, we’ve posted video highlights of four of my five concerts as well as an experimental video using a song from our American Heroes #3 album. “Doctor” is about Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor in America. You can watch our latest version of the video HERE.
How Many Concerts?!
A couple decades ago, I went through all my old bookings calendars and tallied every show I’d ever performed. Including my first public performance at a place called Happy Jack’s in Lake Placid, NY (for which I was seriously heckled and paid $12) in 1974, I have sung a little over 1,000 grown-up shows.
In 1981, I saw the light and eventually evolved into a children’s singer. To date, I’ve performed 4,970 children’s shows (5,986 total shows). It’s looking like I’ll be singing my 5,000th children’s concert this April. How should I celebrate? Do we bake a cake? I must be old…
A New American Heroes Album in the Works…
It’ll be at least a couple of years before it’s done, but I’m now at work researching another ten great American heroes. This is the quiet, less stressful phase of my album-making process, the part I enjoy the most, where all I have to do is learn about and be inspired by another batch of amazing people. There are well over 50 books I’ve accumulated, so I have my work cut out for me. I’m grateful for the help many of you offered me in choosing them. In time, I’ll share with you these latest heroes and their inspiring stories.
Jonathan Hikes The French, Italian and Swiss Alps…
It was the fulfillment of a decades-long dream. Last month, I completed a challenging 110-mile hike around Mt. Blanc beginning and ending in Chamonix, France, walking through parts of Italy and Switzerland as well. With fifteen friends from the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and South Africa, I walked through perhaps the grandest scenery I have ever seen, and returned home to the states invigorated and inspired. Will there someday be an album of songs about Alpine heroes? We shall see…
THE 2010 GRAMMYS
Many of you have asked for an account of my adventures at The GRAMMYs last week, so here goes…
My fellow children’s music nominees and I had been asked to perform a couple of songs each at The GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles the day before the awards ceremony, as part of the festivities leading up to Sunday’s televised GRAMMYs.
I flew into Los Angeles on Thursday. That afternoon, I rehearsed “Doctor” and “Chocolate King” for the first time ever with some of the people who helped write, perform, engineer and produce AH#3 -- Dave Kinnoin, Jimmy Hammer, Leslie Chew and Hillary Black. Because of the miracles of modern album making which allowed us to email our recorded parts to each other, this was the first time we’d ever actually been together in the same room. We practiced late into the evening and by the time I was back in my room at The Wilshire Grand Hotel in Los Angeles, it had been 22 hours since I’d awakened in PA that morning.
Friday was rehearsal #2 back in Encino at Jimmy Hammer’s studio. We continued working out and memorizing our parts late into the night. Saturday began at 8:30 with a breakfast gathering of children’s music makers at a restaurant next to The GRAMMY Museum. Nearly 100 children’s music makers and marketers were on hand to meet and greet each other. I met Debbi Derryberry, the voice of Jimmy Neutron, and numerous other people I’d only heard about for years. Just before it was time for me to head for the “green room” prior to our performance, I was interviewed by the folks at Kidzmusic.com (where my CDs are available) outside on a café table.
Saturday's GRAMMY Concert
The 220 seat state-of-the-art sound stage at The GRAMMY Museum is a performer’s dream; and every one of the nominees in my category of children’s music came -- Milkshake (Baltimore, MD), Ziggy Marley, Buck Howdy (San Diego), Cathy & Marcy (Washington, DC), Greg & Steve (CA), and me. Dean Pitchford, songwriter of “Fame” and screenwriter of the movie Footloose (1984), was up for a GRAMMY in the children’s spoken word category. We were chatting it up there in the green room until it was time for Dean to head down to the theater to kick off the concert with a reading from one of his books. The show was a sell out. The walls of the theater were lined with people who couldn’t get a seat. Many were turned away at the door. Eventually, we went on and performed our two songs to an enthusiastic, intelligent and appreciate crowd of mostly music industry grown-ups and their families. The concert was a great success!
Some facts to put the GRAMMYs into perspective: In 2008, there were over 105,000 albums released. At the 2010 GRAMMYs, there were 1,004 nominees from approximately 110 different categories. There are two children’s categories: “Best Musical Album for Children” and “Best Spoken Word Album for Children.” Nominees are determined by members of the Recording Academy who vote. (You can join The Academy if you’re a professional who works in the field of recorded music.) Normally, five nominees are chosen per category. In my category, there were six nominees, which means there was a tie. The GRAMMY winner is determined by the same voters in round two.
GRAMMY experts claim the highlight of the weekend is the Saturday GRAMMY Nominee reception. This year, it was held after the lifetime achievement awards ceremony at the Wilshire Ebell near Hollywood. The place is an extraordinary mansion with courtyards, gardens, a ballroom, and, in our case, a red carpet. This is the place where Amelia Earhart made her last public appearance before disappearing on her around-the-world attempt in 1937.
Every nominee gets a beautiful Tiffany GRAMMY medallion. It looks like an Olympic bronze medal, complete with a purple ribbon. You wait in a long line to receive your medal. When you get to the check-in spot, you sign your name in a book with a list of nominees before receiving your medal and having an official GRAMMY photo taken of you. The sign in book lists names alphabetically. The name just above mine was “Bruce Springsteen.” Above Bruce was “Brittney Spears.” That’s the closest I came to either of them that weekend.
Sunday, GRAMMY Day
Ninety-nine GRAMMYs were given out between 1:00 and 3:30 PM Sunday afternoon in the Convention Center adjacent to The Staples Arena. (You can watch this for the next couple of weeks at Grammy.com.) I sat with my band cohorts a few rows from fellow kids nominees Greg & Steve and Cathy & Marcy and their entourages. The children’s music GRAMMY was given out in the #15 spot. Ziggy Marley won it, but was not present to receive it.
We saw Taylor Swift receive her first and second GRAMMYs and we were all touched by her sincerity and appreciation for the award.
Then it was through tunnels of white tents over red carpets into The Staples Arena to our special GRAMMY Nominee seats. The show was one amazing performance after another. Lady Gaga’s leaps, Beyonce’s hair flinging struts and Pink’s circus-like water-drenched spinnings were stunning and unforgettable. If you want to be a star in today’s music world, you’d better be good in gym class too!
A Fan for Life
I arrived at The GRAMMYs a nominee and I left a fan. How could we not appreciate the talent and the attention to details of sight and sound and security that had to happen in order to pull off this most amazing weekend? I knew the odds of our winning were slim and I have no regrets about the weekend. I knew at 10:00 PM on Wednesday, December 2nd when I first learned about my nomination, that I was going to come home a winner, regardless of the outcome. And there’s always the next album… This week, I began mapping out goals and tentative deadlines for American Heroes #4.
Remarkable News! …
Last week, our American Heroes #3 CD was nominated for a GRAMMY Award in the category “Best Recording for Children!” This is a huge honor and I’m all aflutter over it. I’ll be in Los Angeles for “Music’s Biggest Night” the last weekend in January 2010.
The children’s Grammy will be awarded during the afternoon and can be viewed via audio/video streaming at Grammy.com from 4:00 to 7:00 PM EST on Sunday, January 31st.
As part of the weekend celebration, I’ll be performing with my fellow children’s recording artist nominees at The Grammy Museum on Saturday, January 30th.
Best wishes for the holiday season!
Election Day (November 3) is a good time to remember Susan B. Anthony (“Carry On,” More American Heroes CD). For over 50 years, this brilliant feminist crisscrossed America at a breathtaking pace, peacefully proclaiming that women deserve to be treated as equal to men. She was arrested and fined $100 for daring to vote in 1872. To the judge who sentenced her, she replied “I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust fine.” She never did. In 1920, fourteen years after Ms. Anthony’s death, the 19th (known as the Susan B. Anthony) Amendment was passed, making it legal for women to vote in the United States.
Veteran’s Day (November 11) began as Armistice Day in 1918 at the end of World War I. (Armistice means “ending of hostilities.”) After peace was declared on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Allied nations insisted it be a day to remember those who died in the war and a day to give thanks for peace. In 1954 in the United States, the name was changed to Veteran’s Day. My American Hero veterans include: George Washington (“Washington’s Hat,” American Heroes CD) -- Revolutionary War; Harriet Tubman (“Take A Ride,” American Heroes CD) – Civil War spy for the Union Army; Jackie Robinson (“Break the Barrier, More American Heroes) – US Army; and Neil Armstrong (“First Man on the Moon,” More American Heroes CD) – Korean War pilot.
Thanksgiving (November 26) began in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln (“All Across the Land,” American Heroes CD) was President. While the Civil War raged on, an optimistic President Lincoln asked Americans to count their blessings and proclaimed: “… I do therefore invite my fellow citizens … to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens...”
Ah…. The Joys of Summer!
School has come to a close and I’m feeling grateful for another year of memorable concert experiences. The new Heroes Four concert has received amazing reviews and bookings for next school year are looking good.
A day after my final school show, I drove to Virginia and spent a week visiting the “new” Mount Vernon (George Washington), Jamestown (Pocahontas), Yorktown (George Washington), Monticello (Thomas Jefferson) and Montpelier (James Madison, “the Father of our Constitution,” and possible hero on the next CD). Oh, and I also bicycled 325 miles during five days with 2,000 cyclists on Bike Virginia. I recommend ALL sites … and Bike Virginia too (it’s an annual event)!
Sprout Concert Photos Posted at my Website
The Los Angeles Songwriter’s Expo
Last April, I attended the ASCAP Songwriter’s Expo in Los Angeles with co-songwriter Dave Kinnoin. More than a thousand of the best songwriters in the world attended to meet and share ideas. I had the opportunity to meet Richard Marx (“Right Here Waiting”), Paul Williams (“The Rainbow Connection”), Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian of The Hooters (“Time After Time”), and Siedah Garrett (“Man in the Mirror”).
Sprout Public Concert: Camden, NJ, Saturday, July 25
Every once in a while, I make a concert appearance in “the real world.” On Saturday, July 25th, I’ll be performing at the WXPN Festival Kids Corner Stage in Camden, NJ from 2:30 to 3:15 PM. WXPN has been airing some of the new heroes songs. You may request songs on the WXPN Kids Corner radio show HERE.
Last week I performed my 4,726th children’s concert at the Littlebrook School in Princeton, NJ where I was the music teacher some 25 years ago. This month, I’ll return to Steckel Elementary School in Whitehall, PA to perform there for the 20th time. Time flies when you’re having fun!
We have these and other Sprout shows listed on my Concert Calendar.
AMERICAN HEROES #3 CD
The new album has received over a dozen glowing reviews (and nary a sour one)! Here are a few excerpts:
“Although the carefully researched biographical anecdotes and historical facts are primarily for the enjoyment of elementary and middle school students and their families, the stories of these remarkable lives are an inspiration to all ages.” EdPlay Magazine (February 2009)
Fabulous!!, February 22, 2009
As a first grade teacher, I am always looking for ways to make learning fun. Jonathan has helped me do that! All year long, we add the dimension of his music (and often dancing!) to reading, writing, and viewing stories of American heroes. The three Heroes CDs are a must for every elementary classroom!
Another wonderful CD by Jonathan Sprout, February 22, 2009
Jonathan Sprout has done an outstanding job with his new Heroes 3 CD. As an elementary music teacher and as a parent of a fourth grader, my students and I have enjoyed Heroes 1 and 2 in class and at home. Jonathan has such a wonderful way of capturing the spirit and the life of these amazing people from American history in his songs. The beautiful melodies, engaging harmonies, memorable lyrics and special creative touches make each song unique to the hero. My students are mesmerized by their stories and the songs. You can hear them singing in the school hallways! Our favorite is "Can't Stop Running", but we enjoy them all!
"American Heroes" Review
“This is a must have for teachers! It is simply awesome. And I say this not just because of the fun upbeat music that gets toes tapping and hands clapping, nor because of Jonathan's wonderful singing, all but for another reason. … I can imagine this album being perfect for elementary school children of all ages. … I could go on and on about this album, but it may be better for you to check it out yourself!” Irene Bellamy, HappyHealthyFamilies.com
WHERE’S AMERICAN HEROES #3?
You can order CDs and digital downloads from CDBaby.com, kidzmusic.com, Sing ‘n Learn, Amazon.com, iTunes, Rhapsody, numerous additional digital download sites and in some children’s, educational and record stores.
I am very proud to announce that my American Heroes #3 CD is now officially born!
Thirty-nine months, countless re-writes and re-records, four mixes and three CD mastering sessions later - which means the album making team kept finding ways to improve it - it’s here.
Right off the get-go, the album became a celebrated Winner of an iParenting Media Award! Here are some initial reviews:
"Jonathan Sprout’s American Heroes #3 delivers another rich punchy packet of diversified heroes including Wilma Rudolph, George Washington Carver, Cesar Chavez, John Muir and Pocahontas to name just a few. The songs are hip and happening - finely produced and performed tributes to some brilliant folks who have left a strong imprint on our society. Perhaps American Heroes #10 will have a nod to Jonathan Sprout! Yes indeed, learning can be a memorable experience." John Wood, Kidzmusic.com
***** American Heroes #3
Author: Joanie Bartels
“This CD was a true labor of love and it shows on every song! Jonathan Sprout and his co-writers have brought to light/life some of America's most famous and courageous (and some lesser known) contributors to the betterment of humankind in a way that will fascinate and inspire not only young people but their parents and teachers as well. This CD is a must in every classroom and home!”
***** Another great CD by Jonathan Sprout
Author: Dr. Dennis Denenberg
“Once again, Jonathan has created awesome songs about REAL heroes and their achievements. His mastery of what they did and their heroic qualities capture the human essence of these incredible men and women. Kids and adults will not only learn about these heroes; they will find themselves singing along! Bravo!”
***** Inspirational and fun!, January 25, 2009
Author: Karen Bartholomew
“Jonathan Sprout's music is infectious. His hooks memorable and singable. This collection of songs about inspirational Americans is educational and moving. I learned something about those I recognized, and was moved by the stories of those I'd never heard of. The variety of styles keeps the whole album interesting. Every song has a different character. I recommend it highly for young and old alike!”
***** Jonathan Works Wonders Again, January 20, 2009
Author: Brian Malek
“My fifth graders have been waiting for Jonathan's new "American Heroes #3" album for several weeks now and they were NOT DISAPPOINTED. I have been teaching for ten years and Jonathan's songs completely energize and captivate my students every year. His music not only entertains, but TEACHES you about REAL HEROES! Countless parents have told me his CD's have worn out their car stereos. Catchy tunes and educational lyrics...for all ages. Way to go Jon! Another ‘instant classic!’”
Ever notice how many times you hear “baby” in pop/rock music? Early on in my career, I promised some friends I would never use that word in a song. Then I got the idea to write a song to be sung to a baby. Andrea Clearfield played the classical piano introduction and ending. Leslie Chew created the smooth drum and bass arrangement.
Dr. Music was recorded in Los Angeles in 1993. That was the year devastating fires destroyed hundreds of homes in the suburbs of LA. We had worked for nearly 2,000 hours on the album and were almost done when the fires erupted. I was not there at the time, but when the fires were at their worst, the recording studio owners were forced to evacuate. Our tapes were left behind.
Using binoculars from their high rise hotel room several miles away, the recording studio owners could see their building off in the distance. All night long, they watched as the fires crept closer. By night’s end, they were certain all had been lost.
Amazingly, the fires were stopped a few hundred yards from the studio, and my hot Dr. Music master tapes were spared a blistering pre-release incineration. I mean, we knew the tracks sizzled, but…
AMERICAN HEROES #3 CD:
Final touches are now being made on my new CD American Heroes #3, to be released in January 2009. Future newsletters will include insights into my ten new heroes: Jane Addams, Elizabeth Blackwell, George Washington Carver, Cesar Chavez, Milton Hershey, Thomas Jefferson, John Muir, Pocahontas, Wilma Rudolph & Jonas Salk. Much more will follow.
The Lullabies CD has interesting origins. In the late 1980s, I bought my first recording studio. Instead of writing my usual fun, playful pop-rock kid’s music, I often found myself creating semi-classical, dreamy, instrumental synthesizer music. It was strange new territory for the acoustic singer/songwriter I thought I was.
In 1989 while I was in Los Angeles discussing the recording of my 2nd kids’ album, Kid Power, I played a few of the tunes for co-producer Leslie Chew. When Leslie suggested they would be perfect material for a lullaby album, everything fell into place. I went home and wrote lyrics to about half of the songs. The other half-dozen songs remained as instrumentals.
Lullabies For A New Age was released to very enthusiastic reviews. To my knowledge, this was the first children’s album comprised of what was then called “new age music,” thus, the album’s title.
NEW SCHOOL CONCERTS:
I was in the studio much of this past summer not only finishing up the American Heroes #3 album, but also upgrading and updating several of my old concerts.
The revised American Heroes Two concert debuting in September includes my new song Pocahontas (written with Dave Kinnoin & Jimmy Hammer).
The updated Dr. Music Confidence Concert debuting in September includes He Will Not Give Up (about Dr. Jonas Salk) as well as Keep Your Face to the Sunshine (about Helen Keller). In addition, the show includes a funny new phone skit and a newly recorded version of I Don’t Want To Go Home.
In January, I’ll begin performing the American Heroes Four concert featuring new songs about John Muir, Wilma Rudolph, Elizabeth Blackwell, Thomas Jefferson and Milton Hershey. This show includes an original song about teachers who are heroes called “Good For Me.”
FREE DOWNLOAD AT MYSPACE.COM:
This month’s free Sprout download at myspace is Litterbug from my On The Radio CD.
The Litterbug Story … In the 1980’s, I lived a few yards from the beautiful Delaware River in Bucks County, PA. From my second floor office picture window, I recall once watching a noisy pick-up truck speed by as its driver tossed a bag of cans and bottles onto the road.
My imagination took over from there. Eventually, I created a song about a short-sighted fisherman who doesn’t get the connection between his litter and the shortage of fish he loves to catch. Producer Leslie Chew and I recorded the album in Philadelphia using state-of-the-art (1985) computer sequencers. (We were so dedicated to mastering the programming that we spent nearly 90 hours in the studio before we began hearing music!)
On The Radio, originally on vinyl and cassette, was re-mastered by Leslie in his Los Angeles studio in 2005 and re-released as a CD.
* I’m having a lot of fun in the studio updating my concerts. The Dr. Music Confidence Concert is going through a major overhaul that will go into effect soon. We’ve already added Keep Your Face to the Sunshine (about Helen Keller) from my More American Heroes CD to the show. Miss Keller’s exact inspiring words were: “Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows.”
* Many of you have noticed the remarkable new sound system now in use with my live shows. Two state-of-the-art Bose L1 Model II stacks and bass modules have been added. The clarity and power of this system is stunning. You have to hear it to believe it.
* The MySpace page includes a concert itinerary, 10 full-length mp3’s you can stream and a free download song of the month. This month’s free song is Baby from my Dr. Music CD. It’s one of my personal favorites on that album. The song was written intending to poke fun of the word “baby” which is rather overused in today’s popular music. Co-producer Leslie Chew created a great rhythmic bass and percussive section that carries the song along. Classical virtuoso Andrea Clearfield played the inspiring piano part. The song begins with a fun skit performed by real-life husband & wife Greg & Jill Biros.
UNUSUAL AMERICAN HEROES INFO:
Happy President’s Day Monday, February 18th. Though Lincoln and Washington were two of the greatest American Heroes who accomplished great things, you may not have known that…
* Abraham Lincoln, our tallest president (6’4”) is the only president who owned a patent. It has something to do with helping river boats stay afloat.
* Until the New Jersey commemorative quarter was minted in 1999, Lincoln was the only person on both sides of a US coin -- the penny. The person on both sides of that New Jersey quarter is George Washington.
* Washington was known as the best dancer in the colony of Virginia.
* It is said that George Washington was the first person to raise mules in America.
Thomas Edison’s birthday was February 11th. In addition to the 1000+ inventions of Edison’s is his “invention” of the word hello. Evidently, he would speak it while he was testing his improvements on the telephone.
One of the oddest of Edison’s inventions is the cement house. Always the optimist, Edison believed he had found a way to make housing affordable by pouring concrete houses from the ground up and leaving openings for windows and doors. His concrete houses were designed to be energy efficient, cheaper and quick to build. Unfortunately, there were problems that kept this invention from becoming the society-saver Edison dreamed it would be. You can read a funny story about a leaky Edison concrete home by clicking here.
MY AMERICAN HEROES #3 CD IS ON THE WAY:
Stage 1 (the research) is complete. Stage 2 (the songwriting) is complete. Stage 3 (the studio recording, mixing and mastering) is more than half done.
I went in “the studio” last September at Hunter Sound in New York. Most all the lead (main) vocals, piano, bass and drum parts have been completed.
Los Angeles record producer Jimmy Hammer will soon be arranging and recording guest background vocalists and percussion parts for the new songs. Guitarist Leslie Chew is now recording additional guitar parts in Los Angeles. In a month or so, co-producer Joe Mennonna will then synchronize their work with our already recorded tracks. He and I will then begin sorting through all the instrument and vocal parts to mix (blend) them into something close to what the songs will finally sound like.
* THE THIRD AMERICAN HEROES CD:
Most of the basic and lead vocal tracks have been recorded for my new album. West coast arranger and co-producer Jimmy Hammer and New York arranger, producer and engineer Joe Mennonna have added remarkable vocal and instrumental arrangements to the songs that Dave Kinnoin and I carefully crafted. It’s all coming together beautifully. We anticipate a summer 2008 release.