Oct 012016

I recently wrote about how much the kids and I love Jennifer Gasoi‘s newest project, Blue and Red Make Purple. The CD-book is now available! (As of October 1, 2016). I was so happy to have the opportunity to interview Jennifer, and even more stoked to offer a copy of the book to a lucky Mama Naturale reader. Contest rules at the bottom of the page.

Jenny: Many of the children’s artists I’ve been coming across these days are parents. People like Lisa Loeb or Jewel who get into making music for kids because they’re living in that world. As far as I can tell, you don’t have children of your own—what inspired you to perform and record for children?


Photo by Philove

Jennifer Gasoi: I’ve always loved working with kids. I started babysitting at the age of 12, and went on to became a camp counselor, a day camp director, taught piano and voice to children, was a music teacher in daycares, community centers and schools and facilitated mom/baby music groups. I began my career as a jazz musician and singer-songwriter in Vancouver in the early 2000’s. I would play jazz clubs by night and teach music to kids by day. I started writing kids songs for my music classes and decided to record a few of them onto my 4 track. (yes I said it! I’m a 70’s baby) I sent a tape to my 6 year old cousin in Montreal and she didn’t stop listening to it for 2 weeks straight. It was at that point that I realized perhaps I was onto something… and I began writing songs for my first album.

I genuinely love children and care about their well-being. I want to create inspiring, empowering music and experiences for children that spark their imagination, creativity, highlight their uniqueness, and show them that they can follow their heart and passion in life. My children’s songs come from a pure place within my heart, drawing from my own experience of childhood. The wonder, innocence, the beauty, the heart-break too. I write children’s songs from the perspective of little Jennifer, and yet they are infused with the knowledge and wisdom I’ve gained as an adult.  Maybe that’s why adults love my music too.

What is your favourite thing about the nature of a child?

The innocence, joyfulness, curiosity, quirkiness and humour. I love their open-heartedness and the fact that they have no filters. There is no censoring or self-consciousness with children, they simply are who they are. They know how to BE. Their essence shines through.  It’s inspiring.

How did the Law of Attraction (or whatever you want to call it) play a role in this beautiful career you have carved out for yourself?

I have always believed that my words, thoughts and intentions have a direct impact on the quality of my life. From a very young age, I would do my best to turn off the radio on a positive word and would end my piano practices on a major chord. Somewhere in my subconscious I was already working with the law of attraction and understood that what I put out into the world would come back to me. Right from the start of my music career I made a decision to stay true to myself, to follow my intuition and guidance, to be the best musician and entrepreneur possible and to always evolve as an artist and human being. Although it has not always been easy, I have stayed true to myself and I have paved a path that has felt honest and authentic. I believe that when we are clear about our intentions, we can more easily attract opportunities, people and situations that resonate with our truth. Having such a strong and clear intention in my life, I have attracted and created amazing experiences. Sometimes I have been very deliberate about what I call into my life and sometimes it has happened more naturally. It all comes down to being mindful, present, heart-centered and aware in my daily life.  It’s a moment to moment practice.

Do you consider yourself a yogi?

I consider myself a fair weather yogi. These days I’m in love with yin and restorative yoga. I have explored many different kinds of yoga over the years from kundalini to power and Hatha.  As I get (slightly) older, I tend to gravitate to yoga classes where I can rest, reflect, and relax my nervous system.

Do you believe in coincidences?

Photo by Philove

Photo by Philove

I like to use the word synchroncity. When I am open to life, in my heart, grounded, centered and feeling “on purpose”,  coincidences or synchronicities have a greater chance of occurring.  If I’m resonating at a high vibration, there is a much greater chance that I will attract beautiful experiences and people into my life.  It takes work to be in this place. It doesn’t happen by chance. I have to work to get into a state of mind/heart where I am not absorbing everything I see, read and feel in the world. When I’m in fear or stressed, there is less chance of these divine occurrences happening. Although there is value in the challenging experiences too. Yoga, meditation, Qi Gong, getting out in nature, working with children and exercise helps me stay on track. The more connected I am within myself, the better my life is in general.  And the more often moments of synchroncity and magic occur.  Here are two fun examples that have happened recently. I have a friend who happens to have a vintage 1960’s light blue mercedes.  A while back she offered to lend it to me for a photo shoot. It just so happens it’s the EXACT car in my book. Here’s another synchronistic moment.  Last week I was on Breakfast Television Montreal talking about my book launch, and it just so happens I was wearing red, the couch we were sitting on was blue and the interviewer was wearing a bright purple shirt. I LOVE these moments. They light me up!

Do you believe in magic?

Yes! It’s what makes my world go round!  I could write a book on the magic I experience on a daily basis.  Hmmm….

blue and redHow did you get involved with Secret Mountain?

This is yet another opportunity to talk about synchronicity. When I first moved to Montreal in 2002 and started researching how to do a children’s album, the first CD that I discovered was “Un Trésor Dans Mon Jardin” by the Secret Mountain. It was full of beautiful songs that kids and adults alike could enjoy. This has become one of the most important aspects of my music- its universal quality.  Not only did I love the songs and arrangements but I was so impressed by the recording quality and the quality of the packaging and design. This was my marker for how I wanted to approach making my own children’s album.  And apparently it worked! I was nominated for a JUNO and won a Gold Parent Choice Award for my debut album Songs for You.  Fast forward 14 years:  After winning the Grammy for Best Children’s Album for Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well, the publisher of the Secret Mountain, Roland Stringer, contacted me and asked if I would like to collaborate on a book/CD. This was a full circle moment.

What can you tell me about putting together the new CD-Book?

Putting this book together was a wonderful experience. It’s the first time I have ever been part of a collaboration with a team. Eureka! Roland and I met last summer and started brainstorming ideas for the book. From day one we had a great rapport, a mutual respect and we agreed upon a concept very quickly. We decided to take 12 of my existing songs and create a fun, interactive musical guide that teaches kids about 12 different genres of music. I wrote the content for the book, giving historical background for each genre, activities and offering incite into how I write songs. I discuss everything from rhythm sections to scatting, to creating didgeridoo sounds.

This was a beautiful team effort – Steve Adams illustrated the book, Ruth Joseph was the editor, Stephan Lori was the creative director and Roland Stringer spear-headed the project. Everyone brought their unique talents to the table to create Blue and Red Make Purple. 

To win your own copy of this amazing new CD-Book,

  1. Like Jennnifer Gasoi
  2. Like Mama Naturale
  3. Leave a comment on this post, telling us your family’s favourite musical genre (and song, if you feel like it!)

The winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, October 5. Good luck!

May 112015
Our SM collection

Our SM collection

Four-year-old Babe is a lover of the arts. While she seems to detest jazz these days (Papa is a jazz musician and we think she might be rebelling), she just adores classical music (calls it ballet music) and of course, she loves books.

So Sleep Softly: Classical Lullabies by Brahms, Schubert, Satie, Debussy, was not a tough sell. This gorgeous new title from The Secret Mountain, is beautifully illustrated (Elodie Nouhen) and chock full of facts about the 16 featured tracks including Offenbach’s Barcarolle, La Poupee by Georges Bizet and Gute nacht by Shubert. The book is honestly not something that at the age of 4, Babe is going to sit there and read with us. She liked the pictures very much–full of imagination and in a style she hasn’t really ever seen before! The text of the book is, however, very much of interest to her music geek of a dad, and something we happily store up on a shelf for when the kids get older. It is an amazing educational tool. The CD itself, pieces performed by performances by L’Ensemble Agora is in high rotation on our kitchen stereo. Our neighbours often hear UpTown Funk and Moves Like Jagger in our morning dance parties, but we very often need to take it down a million notches, and Sleep Softly is the perfect album for just that. I often put it on during bath time, which is right before the kids settle in to bed to sleep softly.

We received this beautiful book along with another Secret Mountain publication, Tomorrow is a Chance to Start Over. This CD and book combo, is a bedtime story of a sister and brother who take a magical voyage. Very relatable for my kiddos! The story and songs are by Vancouver singer-songwriter Hilary Grist who also partially did the whimsical 3D clay character art which illustrates the story. She worked very closely with her husband, Mike Southworth  who played bass, guitars, percussion, background vocals and recorded, mixed and produced the CD. This book and CD is a family favourite at our house at the moment. Hilary’s singing and speaking voice (she narrates the story) are so soothing, I have a hard time not nodding off as we turn the pages. It is so completely beautiful and something I would recommend again and again for a baby shower gift.

When reading these books, I quickly did some detective work. They were reminiscent of other books we already had at home. Un tresor dans mon jardin and Un dimanche a kyoto. Sure enough, these CD books that we love so much, also come from The Secret Mountain, which published in Paris and Montreal. Gilles Vigneault is responsible for the stories in both of these books and you’ll find the voices of familiar artists like Ariane Moffat, Pierre Lapointe and Lynda Lemay. These books have the same stellar quality as the two aforementioned. Looking on the site, I just discovered that  Martha Wainwright, is on the A Gift for Sophie one, so I’m going to have to get my hands on it!

Being a bilingual household, it is very important that our kids have equal access to books and music in both of Canada’s official languages. Un dimanche a kyoto is something we had borrowed from a friend and I think we might have worn the CD down. Papa used it to rock Babe to sleep every night for the first half of her life. If the English version is what you’re looking for, you should know that Patrick Watson sings on A Sunday in Kyoto!

I genuinely hope I’ve peaked your interest in these beautiful books. Maybe you’ve already got some Secret Mountain stuff on your shelf, and like me, you just didn’t know it. If you’d like to win a prize pack of all four of these books, enter the copter below. Canada only.

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