Most concerts aimed at children consist of songs from “Sesame Street” or Raffi.
Elizabeth Mitchell’s are made up of songs by Bob Marley, Woody Guthrie and the Velvet Underground.
A former kindergarten teacher, Mitchell’s commitment to introducing children to classic rock and folk songs has made her beloved by kids and parents alike and turned her into one of the biggest stars in the world of children’s music.
amNewYork spoke with Mitchell as she toured to support her new album, “Sunny Day.”
What’s the biggest difference between making music for kids and playing with your folk band Ida?
Ida is about looking inward and drawing something out. For kids, it’s about connecting with them. It’s an external, shared experience.
What made you decide to record kids’ music?
I made my first kids’ album in one day to document the songs I had sung with my students. I wanted to share it with my nieces and nephews and friends. I wasn’t even planning to sell it. When I received such a strong response — stronger than I got with other music I had spent years recording — I had to pay attention to that.
How do you pick the songs you cover?
[Husband and bandmate] Dan Littleton and our producer listen to music we like, but with the thought that maybe a song has enough wonder or sense of possibility that it could be listened to from the perspective of a child. For me, that’s the sign of a truly great song. For our newest album, we recorded a Jimi Hendrix song called “May This Be Love.” Even Jimi Hendrix can come to our children’s party.
Any advice for parents trying to wean their kids from The Wiggles to Hendrix?
It’s a balancing act of letting kids be kids, but also elevating the experience sometimes and trying something out to see if it turns them on. More often than not, children will surprise you with what they appreciate or enjoy.
If you go: Elizabeth Mitchell is at Symphony Space on Saturday at 11 a.m. 2537 Broadway, 212-864-5400. $25 adults; $15 kids