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Veteran's Day and Heroes

When I began writing about heroes for children in 1994, I had no idea my school concert bookings would significantly increase each year on and around Veterans Day: November 11. Learning about and singing the praises of this special day has been an unintended consequence of my mission to help children understand the nature of true heroes.

 

As we approach this important day, let's remember its origins. It began in 1926 as Armistice Day, which means Peace Day, as a result of the ending of WWI on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. That war was so bad, its survivors created a day that would remind us to do everything we can to get along with each other so we never again have to fight each other.

 

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Album Review: Jonathan Sprout - "American Heroes #4"

After releasing a full 10 albums during his career, accomplished children’s musician Jonathan Sprout has proved that he knows what he’s doing. His newest release, American Heroes #4, is further testament to that. What makes him unique is that this is not just an album of fun songs for kids; this is an informational album that’s going to teach children while they’re having fun. These are all fun, upbeat, optimistic songs that have a lesson to teach. And although they are geared toward children, they happen to be a fun listen no matter how old you might be.

In “Powerful,” for instance, Sprout explains how even the slightest choices can have a major impact on someone’s life. “Heads, Hearts, and Hands,” encourages kids to do well in school and live life respectably because after all, they are the future of the world. “Dr. Seuss” is a wacky, fun track about the famous children’s writer himself. Sprout sings in a goofy voice that is sure to be engaging for everyone listening. Although it’s a fun song, Sprout makes a point to remind listeners that every Dr. Seuss books still has an important story to tell.

“E=MC2,” is a song about Albert Einstein and the mathematic formula that made him so famous. What would be even more impressive would be if he made up an engaging song about all of the important mathematic formulas to help with the studies of high school level students.

Because this album is about this heroes of the world, it has the power to evoke inspiration from children everywhere. It’s clear that this guy has done his research for every single song. And because of this he probably has put more time into writing and composing his music than many other artists have.

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William Penn  

            William Penn was kind enough to grant me his first interview in more than 295 years! I caught up with him at Pennsbury Manor in Morrisville, Pennsylvania, where he spent much of his time while he was living in America.

 

Jonathan Sprout: Mr. Penn, it has been said that the one treaty that European Americans made with the Native Americans that has not been broken is the treaty you made with the natives at Shackamaxon, on the banks of the Delaware River in 1692. Is this true, sir?

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"Powerful," the Story of Samantha Smith, Now a Video

Sprout Recordings is proud to announce the release of our first video from my latest CD, American Heroes #4.

The song "Powerful," written by Dave Kinnoin and me, is the story of Samantha Smith.

AH5 Concert-Samantha Smith color book cover image

Samantha (1972-1985) was a bright and expressive schoolgirl whose optimism warmed the hearts of millions around the world. At the age of 10, when the United States and the Soviet Union appeared to be on the brink of nuclear war, she wrote a letter of peace to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov. His warm response and her two-week journey to his country inspired countless Americans and Soviets to rethink their hostile views of each other. As a powerful symbol of hope and “America's youngest ambassador for peace,” she helped create an atmosphere of love, respect, and joy. Tragically, her life was cut short at the age of 13. Samantha was starring in a TV series called Lime Street that featured Robert Wagner. After shooting their sixth episode in England, she and her dad were on their way home when their plane crashed moments before its scheduled landing in Maine. She taught the world an important lesson: If people try hard enough, they can get along. 

If you live in eastern Pennsylvania, you may remember the annual Peace Fairs in Newtown, PA in the 1980s. Samantha was a VIP guest speaker at one of the fairs. Friends Barbara Simmons, then Director of the Bucks County Peace Center, and Kathy O’Connell, host of WXPN’s Kids Corner, each met Samantha. Barbara thought she was looking at a girl who had the makings of becoming perhaps the first female president of the United States. Kathy, too, was smitten by Samantha’s poise and charisma.

You can view our video HERE

Rodney Whittenberg produced the video, which involved about 25 actors and support staff. It took us four months and numerous shoots to create. Makeup expert Julianne Ulrich spent two hours transforming me into Soviet Premiere Yuri Andropov.

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American Hero Rachel Carson and the Origins of Earth Day

            The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970 at a time when Americans needed an environmental wake up call. Cars with gas guzzling V8 engines crowded the highways. Unregulated factory smoke stacks spewed tons of poisonous gases into the air and waterways.

            One of my heroes played an indirect, but important, role in the creation of Earth Day.

 File:Rachel-Carson.jpgRachel Carson (1907-1964), “Voice for the Earth,” was an author and scientist whose courage, selfless spirit, and sense of wonder inspired the modern environmental movement. Her books about nature helped people realize our interconnectedness with the world of plants and animals. In 1951, her book The Sea Around Us was published. It remained on The New York Times best-seller list for 81 weeks and was translated into 32 languages. In 1962, Carson wrote Silent Spring, a book that spoke courageously about the irresponsible use of poisonous chemicals. Though powerful chemical companies labeled her an alarmist, her book awakened millions of people to the importance of caring for the planet. In 1980, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, was awarded in her memory.

 

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