Known as social changemakers, the Alphabet Rockers boldly address differences in skin color, gender identity and the importance of accepting – oneself and friends. The overall message of “be the love” guides a set of powerful and empowering songs.
Showcasing common musical ground between Native American music and spirituality, and inner-city rap, hip-hop and beat-boxing, the album opens with a spoken word/chanted acknowledgement of California’s widely diverse native peoples. The self-empowering “Until You’re Free” features rapper SaulPaul, with infectious musical help from Genevieve Goings, Lucy Kalantari, the Okee Dokee Brothers and Spanish translation by 123 Andrés. “Live Your Life” a child’s plea for acceptance has a beautiful, melodic arrangement by Shaina Evoniuk, “They/Them (Interlude)” is a sound collage of voices of children and adults proclaiming their preferred pronouns. “I’m Enough” is a gorgeous statement of self-worth and individualism, and “Be Strong” is a sonic toolkit to help children voice their individuality, featuring youthful Bay Area singers Yiann and Rei Matsuno. The extremely powerful “#100kMasks” was inspired by the work of Ashanti Branch and the Ever Forward Club (as seen in the film “The Mask You Live In”). “I Know You See Me,” a musical prayer to end the bullying and harassment of LGBTQI+ people worldwide, is set to an elegant violin melody. One of the album’s most poignant songs, “Not Alone,” is nothing less than an anthem for true friendship. The album ends with “Someday,” a hopeful look toward a near future of acceptance and features a chorus that includes excerpts of James Baldwin’s ever potent words. Full lyrics and background notes are available online. Although #BeTheLove is a message for all ages, not all young listeners may be ready for the complexities raised here. Parents will know when the time is right.
Lahri Bond ©2019 Parents’ Choice
Lahri Bond is a father, a writer, music historian and an art professor in Western Massachusetts. His published books include Spinning Tales Weaving Hope (with the Stories For World Change Network) for New Society Press and People of the Earth (coauthored with Ellen Evert Hopman) for Destiny Books.