Free Song Writing Contests

Alphabet Rockers is finalist in 2014 John Lennon Songwriting ContestThe company of finalists and winners in the “Children’s” category are incredible. Winner Helen Austin is remarkable, and our fellow finalists included our friend Aeode from San Francisco and Mama Mac in Pennsylvania.

Here’s some background information about the song, from an interview of Kaitlin by Matthew Reich, from JLSC:

Who wrote the music, the lyrics, etc?

Dynamite was written by the songwriters/performers from Alphabet Rockers (a family hip hop group), Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Shepherd, along with producer Jason Villaroman and guitarist Donald Reynolds.John-Lennon-Songwriting-Contest The collaboration in our studio involves a mix of writing melody to guitar and putting words/melodies to the beat – so after we had connected the groove it was a true well-paired collaboration between musicians and line writers.

What are your backgrounds and influences?

When I was a little girl, the first record I listened to was “Free to Be You and Me.” When I began songwriting, I found my way back to this record and started thinking about inspiring songs that I could write for children growing up today. I focused on educational themes as a start to my work, and have found that my influences of R&B, Hip Hop, 70s pop and soul come into most any song we write.

What inspired the creation of your song?

When I write songs for children and families, I typically start out by pairing a thematic goal with a lyric that will work, or improvise lyrics over a beat (or beatboxing). In this case, we wanted to write a positive song that took the classic “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes” to a new place for kids to sing and groove to. We incorporated cross-body movements in the pre-chorus because it is the movement itself which activates brain activity and primes children for a more focused learning experience. The main themes of self-esteem and celebrating how each of us is a “body rockin’ superstar” were organic creations from singing to the groove. It’s incredible to see the message come to life on children’s faces when we play or perform it for them. [What we didn’t expect was that our backing vocal choices would be just as important! Our youngest fans are 18-24 months, who call Dynamite the “yea, yea!” song.]

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