The first part of this story could be told about countless musicians whom you've never heard of, but children's music goddess Laurie Berkner's story began more than 15 years ago when she spent nights playing cover songs in and around New York City in an all-female band called Lois Lane.
Berkner, who comes to the Lowell Memorial Auditorium on Sunday in support of her new holiday album, A Laurie Berkner Christmas, spent her days back then working as a classroom music instructor at area preschools and day care centers.
As the long nights from playing cover songs at half-filled bars turned into shorter mornings playing in classrooms and birthday parties, her future became clear. "I started to get more birthday party gigs. They paid better per hour than playing in the cover band and I didn't have to get home at 6 a.m. from a cover band show and then be at a birthday party for 9 a.m."
It wasn't until guests at the birthday parties started asking Berkner to play songs she had written that she came upon the greatest epiphany since someone decided peanut butter and chocolate would taste great together.
"The songs I wrote for them were better than the ones for my band. They were clear, they had direct nuggets you can enjoy. It was hard for me when adults were listening because you were afraid of being judged. I knew kids would judge me, but when they like it, they let you know. And when they don't like it, I can change it to something they do like."
Berkner now has an 8-year-old daughter, but she started performing children's music before she had any kids of her own. "Being around these kids and watching them communicate, I had no idea what they were even saying to each other, but it brought up all these memories for me of what it was like to be that age."
When she had a child of her own, at first, it scared her. "I had a hard time going back to feeling like a child. It took a while. The first few songs I wrote were all, 'You're so great. I love you.' None of those are on an album. We had our own progress in her development where we started to separate a little and it ended up being very helpful to be around her, especially when she was the same age as the kids I write for. Now that she's older, she knows when I'm working on a song, which is a lot, and she can be very helpful."
Berkner's target audience, and expect to see a lot of this in Lowell next weekend, is 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds. Because young children have notoriously short attention spans, expect Sunday's concert to run for about an hour and 15 minutes. Expect to hear a lot of material from the Christmas album, along with some of her biggest non-holiday songs.
- Laurie Berkner plays at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium on Sunday, Dec. 9, at 1 p.m. Tickets are $100 (which includes a post-show meet-and-greet), $35 and $25 and can be purchased by phone at 978-454-2299 or at www.lowellauditorium.com.
Ed Hannan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his For the Record blog at blogs.lowellsun.com/fortherecord. You can also follow him on Twitter @SunFTRblog or like our For the Record blog page on Facebook.