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About The Performers

Rachel Buchman



Sarah Pirtle

  Photo By Dan Brown
A Few Words From Rachel: "I have been performing for children since I was twelve! I sang at kids’ birthday parties with my guitar. At the time I was deeply involved in theater performance and felt this was a great way to earn money.   How I went from theater and singing at birthdays to where I am now…it’s a long story… However, one thing that has had a deep influence on my music was having children of my own.
In this world of ever more commercialized and technical music, and art of all kinds, I hope that children will feel, from listening to my recordings and singing along with me, that they can make music, that music is theirs. They don’t need music lessons or instruments, they don’t need cool clothes or cool sets. They’ve got everything they need in their own hearts, bodies, and imaginations as long as they let out their song. A song is something that you can share; it’s something that you can take with you anywhere because it doesn’t weigh anything; a song doesn’t break or wear out; and a song doesn’t cost anything either! So SING! SING! SING!"

ABOUT RACHEL:  Rachel Buchman, nationally beloved recording artist, performer and teacher, was born in New York, studied at the Dalcroze School of Music in Manhattan, The Levin School of Music in Washington, DC., and graduated  from Vassar College.   She has appeared in Atlanta, Boston, Houston and throughout Texas, New York, and Washington, DC, and has taught music to children in England, Berlin and Israel. She has presented teacher workshops nationally, at conferences and at many educational institutions. 
Rachel’s experiences living in Europe and Israel, and her extensive travels in the United States, have made her sensitive to the power music has to help children understand themselves and the world. She brings music, which is becoming ever more commercialized, technical, and over produced, back to the voices and dancing bodies of children. Through her performances with Young Artists, Rachel reaches thousands of school children. She lives in Houston with her husband, Harvey, her son Jacob, and her daughter Judith, and their menagerie.   

A Few Words From Sarah: " For me, "magical" in Magical Earth means creative, spontaneous, healing. Since we are all a part of the Earth, we can have all of these qualities as well. The title song begins, "Come out of your house and walk on the land. The trees are all talking, you can understand. The mountains are calling and the streams and the wind. The bear and the deer are inviting you in." That’s the way that I experience the Earth, as inviting us to come and listen. My connection to the Earth feeds me and I tried to bring that spirit to the whole recording. The Other Side Of The World gives snapshots of what children all around the world are doing simultaneously…like having pillow fights while others are running to greet their friends at sunrise. Dolphin Drummers grew out of an experience I had in the Florida Keys swimming with dolphins. I learned that some seacoast peoples in the Greek Isles drummed on the oceans’ surface to ask the dolphins to drive fish into their nets. When I was in the water with eight-foot-long dolphins, I got a feeling for what that must have been like. White Whales is a true story of people and whales in cooperation, but it is from the present. It tells of Russians freeing a thousand trapped beluga whales with the help of an ice breaker. On that song you can hear an ocean drum, which has two drum heads that enclose ball bearings. As they roll inside they make a swishing sound like waves on a beach. Brian Melick, a wonderful percussionist, drove up to the recording studio with literally a hundred different instruments in his van, like that ocean drum. For Mahogany Tree, Brian brought rainsticks, gourds dipped in water and shakers of all kinds. I played marimba and he added udu drums made of clay that boing and bounce like a tabla rhythm. Talk It Out is a zydeco song. I wanted to use zydeco because the accordion, electric guitar and trap drums really fit the excitement and anxiety that surrounds conflict resolution…you have a conflict with a friend that gnaws at you but you are afraid to actually sit down and deal with it. The song shows two friends breaking through their reluctance and finally talking things out."

ABOUT SARAH: Sarah has been honored as one of the country’s most important writers for young people. Her first recording won an American Library Association Award and her next won the Parents’ Choice Classic Award. Sarah is also the author of several books including the Young Adult novel, An Outbreak of Peace, which won the prestigious Olive Branch Award. Sarah trains students and teachers nationally in conflict resolution skills development and bias awareness. "If you want to hear some of the best children’s songs out there today, listen to Sarah Pirtle!" - Pete Seeger

Ruth Pelham

Heather Forest

ABOUT RUTH: Ruth Pelham is a nationally known singer, songwriter, and educator who performs for people of all ages in schools, libraries, clubs, festivals, parks, conferences, and other community venues. Her upbeat performances are described as "charismatic", "mesmerizing", and "inspiring", and she has been acclaimed by folksinger Pete Seeger as "one of America’s greatest songwriters." Ruth records for children and adults and many musicians including Holly Near, Ronnie Gilbert, and Pete Seeger have recorded her songs.

Ruth’s songs embody the spirit of community - a theme that weaves its way through her repertoire of songs for people of all ages. With a stage presence full of humor, warmth and spontaneity, she gets audiences singing, clapping, tapping and feeling like a room full of longtime friends and family.

Ruth is also the founder and director of Music Mobile, an educational arts organization which presents innovative programs that foster a love of music and creative arts, promote cooperation, build self esteem, and revitalize neighborhoods and communities.

A Few Words From Heather: "Since ancient times people in cultures throughout the world have gathered around the hearth at home to share stories. Storytelling was a way to pass on values, to entertain, and to create a sense of community heritage. Adventure tales, stories of things that happened long ago, family stories, fantasies, folktales and fables, abounded as people shared time and words together. In a busy modern world it is refreshing to the spirit to rekindle the hearth fires with an old tale. I invite you to listen to these stories and sing along or retell them in your own way. Perhaps they will inspire some homespun tales around the dinner table or at bedtime. Parents’ own personal life stories are treasures that can be passed down as invisible yet lasting gifts to children. The simple act of wholeheartedly telling about an old memory or describing what just happened today to an interested listener is both ancient and joyous. One of the most generous gifts we can give is the time we take to speak and listen to each other. Enjoy!"

ABOUT HEATHER:  Heather Forest is a minstrel with a voice that can soothe and soar as she weaves a musical spell with the magic of words. Her style of storytelling blends original music, guitar, poetry, prose and the sung and spoken word. With vividly crafted language, evocative facial expression, and graceful gesture she creates powerful images in the minds of her listeners. She has toured her repertoire of world folktales for the past twenty years to theatres, major storytelling festivals, and conferences throughout the United States. Heather is also the author of several children’s books. Her first book, "The Baker’s Dozen…A Colonial American Tale", won an American Institute for Graphic Arts Award and was selected by the Children’s Literature Center of the Library of Congress to be part of their traveling book exhibit. Another book, "The Woman Who Flummoxed The Fairies…An Old Tale From Scotland" was chosen as a Pick Of The Lists by The American Booksellers Associations.
Heather lives with her husband and two children on Fox Hollow Farm in New York State.

Lisa Atkinson


Paul Strausman

A Few Words From Lisa: " I go into each performance expecting to have fun.  I learn something from each audience.  The more they want to participate the more fun we have.  I started writing music for kids when I found out I was going to have my first baby, fifteen years ago.  Too many in our society overlook the importance of children.  Music is my gift to them.  I want children to experience the joy of singing.  I want to share songs to make them laugh, cry, think and remember." A Few Words From Paul: "In my songwriting and performing, I am always striving to make fun music that is also interesting and challenging musically and lyrically for both kids and their parents.  I listen to and enjoy many different styles of music from folk music to classical, jazz and rock & roll.  My writing reflects these influences.
In my work with kids in workshops, concerts, and as an elementary school music teacher my first goal is to show the kids that music is a fun activity that everyone can be successful at.  I want them to be so comfortable with their own abilities that they can truly feel the experience of personal musical expression.  When this happens, music can be a powerful tool for creative learning, curriculum enhancement, building a shared group experience, and promotion of self esteem.
Children's music is important, probably more now than it has ever been. 
I think the messages kids are getting from the mainstream media are often very unhealthy.  I, and other musicians like me, are looking at music for children as more than just entertainment. 

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