‘One Lit­tle Song Can Change the World’

New al­bum most im­pres­sive yet for Kid Pan Al­ley

Rappahannock News - - COUN­TRY SIDE - By John Mc­caslin Rap­pa­han­nock News staff I wanna’ know what’s in your heart

“We see what kids are think­ing by what they want to write songs about,” ex­plains Kid Pan Al­ley founder and Tiger Val­ley res­i­dent Paul Reisler. “The topic that comes up the most is bul­ly­ing and re­spect.”

Chil­dren and adults alike will find them­selves lis­ten­ing in­tently to ev­ery word of Kid Pan Al­ley’s new al­bum, “One Lit­tle Song Can Change the World.” And for good rea­son.

Each of this unique al­bum’s 10 songs, writ­ten ex­clu­sively by chil­dren, de­liv­ers a much-needed les­son about bul­ly­ing and re­spect — re­spect for each other, the com­mu­nity, the en­vi­ron­ment, even a young song­writer’s dog (de­spite the serious na­ture of its mes­sage, one can’t help but smile while lis­ten­ing to the al­bum).

Sticks and stones may bruise my dog

But words will never hurt him He may be a mutt, have bad breath, too

But he’s my best friend and that’s more than you.

“We see what kids are think­ing by what they want to write songs about,” ex­plains Kid Pan Al­ley founder and Tiger Val­ley res­i­dent Paul Reisler. “The topic that comes up the most is bul­ly­ing and re­spect.”

He de­scribes the new al­bum, per­formed by the Grammy nom­i­nated Kid Pan Al­ley Band along with some amaz­ing world­class guest vo­cal­ists — in­clud­ing renowned folk singer Vance Gilbert and North­ern Vir­ginia’s own Jon Carroll of Star­land Vo­cal Band fame — is a col­lec­tion of “pow­er­ful songs about how we should treat each other.”

Songs that “speak of the dreams and as­pi­ra­tions of the chil­dren about how they want their world to be,” says Reisler, who launched na­tion­ally-rec­og­nized Kid Pan Al­ley right here in Rap­pa­han­nock County in 1999 (with the ac­ci­den­tal dis­cov­ery that kids make the great­est song co-writ­ers).

“It’s not adults writ­ing songs about how chil­dren should act,” Reisler con­tin­ues, “but rather a sur­pris­ingly so­phis­ti­cated world­view as seen through the eyes of chil­dren.”

Some­times we fight to be holy Some­times we fight to be free Some­times we fight be­cause we’re blinded by might

Let’s open our eyes and look in­side and fi­nally see

This isn’t Pearl Har­bor, this isn’t World War III

This is just a dis­agree­ment, and you dis­agree with me

“These are some of those songs that speak from the unique world­view of chil­dren — from what they feel, not what us adults think they should feel,” Reisler states.

It’s not sur­pris­ing the al­bum in­cludes a song about racism, which reared its ugly head this past sum­mer very close to home in Char­lottes­ville. The song is sim­ply ti­tled “Skin,” and fea­tures back­ground vo­cals by 71-yearold Ysaye Barnwell, a cel­e­brated former mem­ber of the African Amer­i­can a cap­pella en­sem­ble Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Don’t mat­ter if your skin is light or dark

Don’t care where you live or what you wear

If you got corn­rows or bleached blond hair

I have a dream like Dr. King What he stood for made us think

All God’s chil­dren are just the same

With dif­fer­ent faces and dif­fer­ent names

Reisler says lyrics like these change the kids that write them and they mo­ti­vate the chil­dren that hear them. Which is what’s be­hind the al­bum’s ti­tle, “One Lit­tle Song Can Change the World.”

“We’ve all felt trans­formed by a great song at some time in our lives — the song that made us feel bet­ter on a bad day, the song that made us re­al­ize some­thing about our­selves or our world, that spe­cial song that gave us the courage to stand up for what was right,” Reisler states.

“All the songs on the very first Kid Pan Al­ley ‘Tidal Wave of Song’ were writ­ten with kids in Rap­pa­han­nock,” he adds. “That al­bum started a tidal wave of over 2,700 songs with over 50,000 chil­dren across the coun­try.”

On the new al­bum, Ms. Whar­ton’s class at Rap­pa­han­nock El­e­men­tary wrote “Wake Up,” a fas­ci­nat­ing song about not bul­ly­ing the en­vi­ron­ment with pol­lu­tion.

We cov­ered up the sun with all our pol­lu­tion

In our dark­est times, we need a good so­lu­tion

The seas are ris­ing, and glaciers are sink­ing

There’s a hole in the ozone — what were we think­ing?

Wake up, Mr. Sun. Wake up, ev­ery­one!

“There are songs that have in­spired great change through­out his­tory and songs that have changed us as in­di­vid­u­als,” Reisler re­calls. “There are the thou­sands of Kid Pan Al­ley songs that have changed the tens of thou­sands of chil­dren who wrote them and the hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple who have heard them. We hope one of those lit­tle songs might help change the world for our chil­dren.”

Or, as he puts it an­other way: “May these songs help heal the wounds.”

Check out Kid Pan Al­ley’s new web­site — www.KidPanAl­ley.org — which has a link to pur­chase “One Lit­tle Song Can Change the World.” In ad­di­tion, the al­bum can be found in Wash­ing­ton at R.H. Bal­lard Gifts and Home Decor, in Sper­ryville at Ha­ley Fine Art, and in War­ren­ton at Drum & Strum Mu­sic Cen­ter.


Reisler launched na­tion­ally-rec­og­nized Kid Pan Al­ley in Rap­pa­han­nock County in 1999.

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