Erin Lee & Marci

Erin Lee & Marci

BandPop

The Indigo Girls meet The Smothers Brothers and sing for kids - that's Erin Lee & Marci. This hilarous- yet-hip duo from NYC sing original songs about loose teeth, terrible haircuts and other assorted joys (and challenges) of childhood. Disney’s Family Fun Magazine calls them simply "irresistible!"

Biography

Erin Lee & Marci win big – writing and performing singable songs about real life – for real kids
An Interview with Journalist Susan Figliulo

NEW YORK – They’re as giggly and bubbly as the kids they entertain – and it takes an adults-only conversation about musical theater to recognize just how serious Erin Lee Kelly and Marci Appelbaum are about their own work with children.

Longtime friends who met while working in children’s improvisational theater, Erin Lee and Marci quickly realized they shared a common sensibility that calls for involving children as performers, rather than passive listeners. That meant mining the musical theater canon they both love for songs and shows suitable to stage with their young classes and audiences.

Almost immediately they ran into trouble – and not just because they sought to develop material that speaks to frequently jaded 5-and-older youngsters at opposite ends of the class spectrum: the privileged kids in the Upper East Side private school where they teach together, and the South Bronx youngsters who attend classes with Marci’s Attic Salt Theater Company.

“We’re both musical theater people,” explains Erin Lee, “but the struggle is always to find material a child could and should sing. Everybody loves ‘Oliver,’ and it’s a fine score – but come on, the story has a woman beaten to death by the man she loves. So obviously we have a problem doing that show with young girls. ‘Annie’ – good story, good music, the kids enjoy it -- but it’s so hard to sing for young voices. There just aren’t a lot of shows – and really, not even a lot of songs -- that work as pieces for kids to perform.”

Solution: write your own. Which is just what Erin Lee and Marci have done, first with “Someone’s Gotta Wanna Play,” their award-winning 2004 release, and now “Snowdance,” which dedicates each of its 12 songs to a month of the year, and which won an ASCAP award months before its release.

“Snowdance” and “Someone’s Gotta Wanna Play” also helped the pair win a slot in the entertainment lineup (along with members of the “Sesame Street” cast and puppeteers from the acclaimed Broadway show “Avenue Q”) for this summer’s Alaska-bound R Family Cruise, sponsored by Rosie O’Donnell and targeting gay parents’ families.

“Kids today are exposed to so much more than we were at their age, but we’re still trying to write songs that we would have liked to listen to,” Marci says. “We grew up with ‘Schoolhouse Rock’ and ‘Free to Be… You and Me,’ and that highly influenced us!”

Keeping songs easy for growing young voices, Erin Lee and Marci write about topics that grab older kids, like taking responsibility – even after your friends cut out -- for breaking a neighbor’s window in “Elm Avenue Waltz.” Paying attention to important details, they’re careful to use non-gendered names -- like Chris, Jesse or Casey -- to maintain a universal appeal.

“Some of these kids are 10 going on 30,” Marci notes. “They’ll show up in Led Zeppelin or Grateful Dead t-shirts. Sometimes they’ll tell us about a song they heard and they’ll say, ‘I want to sing this song, but it has a lot of bad words.’ So we’ll have them write their own lyrics, and we get such great stuff. One eighth-grader wrote: ‘I go to Yankee Stadium/And buy a shirt, size medium.’ We are constantly falling in love with what these kids can do.”

“All these kids are forced to grow up so fast,” Marci adds, “and that’s just as true on the Upper East Side as in the South Bronx. The South Bronx kids have all sorts of street and societal pressures, while the Upper East Side kids have the pressure to get into the right kindergarten and start piano at age 5. It’s the same feeling for both.”

Their evident empathy for their young charges belies Erin Lee’s and Marci’s reasonably normal backgrounds. Erin Lee, a native of Canada, started performing as a youngster in Ontario and soon enrolled in New York City’s American Musical and Dramatic Academy. “I’m small and blonde and look young, so as an actress, I played every ‘disturbed addicted pregnant teenager’ role that came along,” she laughs – though she admits the experience drew her to creating music that might help such girls. Marci, who grew up in Florida, also attended The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (but not at the same time as Erin Lee). In addition to performing, teaching, and running the family theater programs at Attic Salt Theater Company, Marci co-wrote two Scholastic books, “Folktale Plays from Around the World” and “Read-Aloud Plays: Colonial America.”

Their versatility is evident from their affiliations: Both are members of Actors’ Equity as well as the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), and both sit on the Board of the Children’s Music Network. Both also are registered teachers in the Music Together program, which introduces children from infancy through age 5 to music.

But their hearts are with the older set. “There’s just very little out there

Discography

New CD is currently in production for a 2009/2010 release!

Our other CDs are:
Snowdance - 2006
Someone's Gotta Wanna Play - 2004

Set List

Our family concerts feature something for big kids, little kids, and their grownups. We perform both as a duo and as a full band and we can tailor a show around a specific event or theme.

Our repertoire of original songs is flexible to accommodate any age group, but our specialty is school-aged kids or family shows with both younger and older siblings. Our concerts are extremely interactive and allow kids (and grownups) to participate at their own comfort level.

A typical show is 45 minutes long. Longer or shorter shows can be arranged on an as needed basis.