Dubbed the "queen of children's music," Laurie Berkner will be performing Sunday at the Great South Bay Music Festival in Patchogue.
The bestselling children's recording artist and preschool television star inspired the progressive "kindie rock" movement with original songs, albums, DVDs, music videos on Nick Jr. and Sprout's "Sunny Side Up Show," books and more. The Laurie Berkner Band will showcase many favorites including "Bumblebee," "We Are Dinosaurs," "Victor Vito," "Drive My Car," "Mouse in My Toolbox," and "I'm Gonna Catch You." The show will also include quieter interludes, with songs from "Laurie Bernker Lullabies."
The former preschool music teacher lives in New York City with her husband and 10-year-old daughter. We recently caught up with her about her music, her family and what she loves to do on Long Island. Take a look.
Q. Is there anything in particular that inspires your music?
"Lots of things ... but particularly listening to what kids say and talk about -- as well as the things I remember loving when I was a kid myself. Also, anytime I hear a song that I love, I think about what makes me love it: Is it the rhythm? The melody? The images in the lyrics? and use that knowledge to inspire something new."
Q. How did you get started performing?
"I've always loved performing. As a kid I used to put shows on in our backyard for the rest of the block, and later I starred in my high school's musicals. I started doing music for kids as a pre-school music specialist in the '90s. After a while I realized they preferred the songs we wrote together to the ones I learned on my own and brought in for them to sing. Eventually I recorded the ones we enjoyed most (my first album, 'Whaddaya Think of That?') and when people heard it I started to get asked to perform at parties, stores and at benefits for other schools."
Q. What are your daughter's favorite songs?
"She of course was wondering if you meant my music -- or what she REALLY listens to. (She chose to share the latter.) She loves the a capella group Pentatonix and their cover of 'Say Something,' a medley of songs they do called 'La La Latch' and an original song of theirs called 'Standing By.'"
Q. What are your favorite, family-friendly things to do on Long Island and in New York City?
"We love going to visit friends on the East End of Long Island (including The Laurie Berkner Band drummer, Bob Golden, in Springs and our bass player, Brady Rymer, in Southold!). We also love going to the beaches. For years, before my daughter started going to summer camp, we belonged to a beach club on Atlantic Beach and this year we'll be vacationing in Long Beach. I also love visiting the farm stands in the Hamptons. We have gotten some of the best fruits, vegetables, eggs and cheeses I've ever had from many of those stands. I've even found delicious sauerkraut and amazing chocolates. In New York City we love to go to shows and going out to eat together. We have a few favorite restaurants in our neighborhood like Thai Market, Ethiopian food at Awash and Indian food at Amla. We also love to go down to Riverside Park with our dog, Winston."
Q. What was it like the first time you saw yourself on TVT
"It was a little surreal, honestly. It was kind of similar to hearing myself sing on a recording for the first time. I knew it was me, and I could see it was me, but it almost felt like I was watching a different person -- a person I didn't totally recognize, since I was looking from the outside. And while on one level I felt critical of myself, I also really loved watching and knowing I had done it - and that hopefully lots of other people were watching and enjoying my music as well."