Post image for Album Preview: HOPES AND DREAMS: THE LULLABY PROJECT (Decca Gold)

by Frank Arthur on April 19, 2018



Everyone knows that lullabies help babies sleep. But studies show that they can also ease pain and stress. These tender ditties are much more than a baby song as well. They are an intimate connection between the singer and the baby. And singing lullabies is good for parents. Singing to a baby can help support an important bond between parents and their child. Traditionally, lullabies are used to express hopes and dreams for the family.

The new record, Hopes and Dreams: The Lullaby Project — released on April 20 on Decca Gold, is inspired by the Lullaby Project, a program of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute which pairs pregnant women, new mothers, and family members with professional artists to write and sing personal lullabies for their babies, supporting maternal health, aiding child development, and strengthening the bond between parent and child.

Bringing together an internationally acclaimed roster of talent to perform and record these personal lullabies, the recording includes tracks in Spanish and French as well as English, reflecting the multi-cultural identities of the mothers themselves. The track “Esso, Esso,” sung in French and Ditammari (a language from northwest Benin), features Grammy Award-winning Beninese singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo, and salsa and bolero vocalist Gilberto Santa Rosa performs in Spanish on “Mi Niña Bella.” All of the performers on the recording represent a wide variety of musical genres, including pop, folk, classical, country, salsa, and jazz.

The album, available on CD and digitally, contains fifteen lullabies written by parents from across New York City. Featured among other performers are Fiona Apple, Lawrence Brownlee, Rosanne Cash, Rhiannon Giddens (Nashville), Patti LuPone, Natalie Merchant, Dianne Reeves, Pretty Yende, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Janice Freeman, who drew legions of fans for her soulful performances as a contestant on The Voice in 2017, chose this project as her first recording since appearing on the show. During that time, it became known that she struggled as a single mother with the passing of her daughter Hannah’s father from cancer just four years after her birth. Subsequently, Janice herself was diagnosed with cancer and lupus and dedicated her performances on The Voice to her daughter.

Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato lends her renowned vocal talents to the project’s title track, “Hopes and Dreams,” recorded with the Brentano String Quartet. Joyce has been involved with the Lullaby Project for over five years and met Elsa Negron, the mother who wrote “Hopes and Dreams,” when she performed the song at a special concert hosted by Carnegie Hall.

The Lullaby Project was inspired, in part, by the experience of songwriter Thomas Cabaniss, who years ago began creating personal lullabies as gifts to friends expecting children, and later for his own kids. Carnegie Hall’s first Lullaby Project took place at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx in December 2011, led by Cabaniss and fellow teaching artist Emily Eagen, in response to the needs the hospital saw among their pregnant teen patients.

Since then, more than 800 lullabies have been written and recorded in healthcare settings, schools, foster care settings, homeless shelters and correctional facilities in New York City, across the United States, and around the globe. Extending across the country and through several international pilot programs, the Lullaby Project enables twenty partner organizations to support families in their own communities.

To better understand the effect of music in early childhood development, Carnegie Hall has also commissioned two research papers from Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf, an expert in the field, entitled Why Making Music Matters and Being Together, Being Well.

Over the last three years, the artists featured on this album, the songwriters, Carnegie Hall teaching artists, and partners all connected with a single collective purpose: to celebrate the families who have shared their personal stories through the Lullaby Project. These are stories about love and loss, resiliency and joy, and about holding the people you love close, wherever you go.

Since 2000 BC, the precious musical tradition of lullabies has deep cultural and emotional roots — and 2018 marks the 150th anniversary of Brahms’ Lullaby. These personal songs bring people together, span generations, and tell stories about where we come from, who we are now, and our hopes for the future. Lullabies are intimate and tender expressions of our hopes and dreams for everyone in our world. This awesome album will also inspire you to sing, share and create lullabies with your loved ones.

Hopes and Dreams: The Lullaby Project
Decca Gold
15 tracks | 44:10
released on April 20, 2018
available at iTunes and Amazon

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