Children’s entertainment icon Raffi has teamed up with a local musician-mom for a new kids’ album that celebrates kindness, inclusion and acceptance.
“I Am Kind,” by Auburn’s Lindsay Munroe, was released on digital platforms in April, with a CD version coming June 12.
It’s the first album produced by Raffi’s label, Troubadour Music, that features an artist other than him in decades. Its 16 songs offer both inspiration and practical tools for all children, including those who are neurodiverse.
Munroe, a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, grew up listening to Raffi -- his joyful melodies and sing-alongs were part of the soundtrack to her childhood. When she was young, her room was full of instruments; guitars hung on the wall and a keyboard took up most of the floor space. Later on she’d perform at open mics and folk venues.
But it wasn’t until she became a mother that she found her true calling – children’s music.
“It’s what I’m meant to do,” she said. “What I love to do.”
Munroe is mom to three children with autism – Jack, 11, Emma, 9, and Marjorie, 8. Playing music with them, she said, has always been a helpful teaching tool.
For years, Munroe has performed for children at preschools and libraries. This eventually led to her “Sing Along with Lindsay” YouTube channel and Instagram page, where Raffi discovered her.
Last year, Munroe took her youngest daughter to Raffi’s concert at The Hanover Theatre in Worcester, and the two musicians connected backstage during a “Meet and Greet.”
“We were talking about songwriting and children’s music and autism,” she said. “He came up with the idea that I should write a song for kids with autism.”
After Munroe wrote and sent the song “I Am Kind” to Raffi, he encouraged her to keep writing. Eventually, there were enough songs for an album.
“He offered to sing harmony on a few songs,” Munroe said. “At the time, I thought I’d independently release an album. Once we did the first couple songs together, he offered to produce the whole album. I was thrilled.”
Raffi sings backup vocals on some of the tracks as well as playing guitar, ukulele, electric piano, bongos, and train whistle.
Munroe’s children are also featured; their energetic voices lending the album’s sing-along vibe.
Songs on the album include children’s classics like “This Little Light of Mine” and “Frère Jacques,” as well as Raffi’s own signature tunes “The More We Get Together” and “De Colores.”
“She brings traditional songs to life with charm and a calm energy, just right for kids,” Raffi said of Munroe’s style.
Of her original songs on the album, Munroe said about half were written with autistic children in mind.
“With my kids, music is a nice way to teach social skills or things they can work on. Sometimes they’re not as open to trying new things. Or sometimes a mistake can seem like a much bigger deal than it is,” she said. “Music can really help; a message with a little melody that sticks with you and helps you through your day.”
The songs’ titles – “Waiting Nicely,” “OK to Make Mistakes,” “I Can Ask For Help,” “I Can Try New Things,” – speak to the messages she hopes to convey.
According to Raffi, the songs are “positive affirmations that kids can internalize for those times they might need a melodic reminder that they are indeed capable people.”
While recording iconic songs like “The More We Get Together” was a thrill for Munroe, she said one of the most meaningful songs on the album is “Every One Of Us Belongs.”
“The message is important to me: inclusion and acceptance. I want my kids to feel that and I want all kids to feel that,” she said.
Colorful and kid-friendly activity guides to go along with each song are published on Munroe’s website, lindsaymunroemusic.com. She offers printable chords, lyrics, and at-home ideas for fun and learning.
“I am happy to contribute something to the world during these trying times,” said Munroe. “I hope that all families, especially those with neurodiverse kids, can feel inspired and uplifted by these songs.”