VocalEssence Helps Young Moms Record Original Lullabies

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Guild Hall at Plymouth Congregational Church is an architectural beauty. Its large wooden beams help create a rich, sweet sound.

Now that sound is even sweeter as it reverberates with the melodies and lyrics of a baby’s slumber.

“The myth is dispelled, that only professionals can sing. No, you can create a lullaby, though you may need guidance,” said Phillip Shoultz.

Shoultz conducts the musical group, VocalEssence, which is giving that guidance to new mothers from Longfellow Alternative High School. Working in coordination with the nationwide “Lullaby Project,” the goal is to strengthen the bond between mom and baby.

It is accomplished by letting the young moms write and record their own lullabies, specifically for their child.

“Everything you heard today they sang in one form or another. The melodies they sang first and then of their lullabies, we refine them with them,” Shoultz said.

After a few rehearsals, the songs are recorded. The group’s professional voices add the harmonies to the mother’s melodies, who join along in the singing.

Arianna Cavner wrote “Amina’s Lullaby” as a way to calm her daughter’s cries. VocalEssence singers gave her original score both harmonies and life.

“So now I got to make it into a real life song that she gets to hear over and over, and she knows it’s her song,” Cavner said.

Cavner smiles with appreciation as she listens to the final sound, adding, “It’s super exciting – I can’t wait for everybody else to hear it.”

More than anything, original music makes a lasting imprint on a child. And none more so that these songs of love, as only a mother can sing.

Guest singer Melanie DeMore says the project will have a lasting impression on both the mother and the child.

“Songs to encourage children to be their biggest and best selves, that they’re walking through this world being held and loved. To me, that’s priceless,” DeMore said.

Project Lullaby is part of a nationwide effort sponsored by the Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute.

Here is more information about Project Lullaby and how to listen to the recordings.

More from Bill Hudson
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