If you live in Saskatchewan and have little ones, the star of my blog today needs no introduction. Since her solo debut with Renji Penji in 2007, Sylvia Chave’s songs have been enjoyed by kids whether they’re grooving at her concerts, listening to her albums in the car, dancing to a fave in the living room, or hearing a special one sung softly by a parent at bedtime. I’ve taken my children to Singing With Sylvia events since motherhood was new to me and not only do they love the shows, but Sylvia makes me smile, too. And, I’ve come to know her a bit, which has made me an even bigger supporter and that’s why, with an album release on the afternoon of September 15 in Delisle coming up quick, I wanted to introduce you with a deep-dive Q&A with that light-filled lady, Sylvia Chave, the lady behind the music.
S&L: You’ve got the most unpredictable, untamable, immature audience out there. So I guess my question is, WHY KIDS? Did you always know they were who you wanted to sing to? And what makes you stick with them?
Sylvia: No, I didn’t know that I wanted to sing with kids at all. It was just by accident that I stumbled upon it through the library. Once I did it though, performed, I was hooked. Now, I can't think of a more loving and appreciative, fun audience to sing with— they fill my heart with joy continuously!
S&L: I grew up with Sharon, Lois, and Bram, Raffi, and Fred Penner and have passed them along to my kids (along with your works, of course)—who were your musical muses in the children’s dept.?
Sylvia: Hmmm, I have to be honest, things are a little cloudy as to when I fell in love with Mr. Dress Up & the Friendly Giant. Not sure if it was when I was little or my kids were little. But, those two guys were right up my alley: imagination, dressing up, music, and lots of great friends. Finnigan, Jerome... the castle. “And here is a chair for two to curl up in.” “Look up, Look way up!” I have a lot of their little sayings in my head. “Twit, to-whoo.” Not sure they are all right, but hey, I really built on the tickle trunk idea!
S&L: When I’m telling stories to my daughter, it takes me a bit to get the rhythm of what will crack her up, and I imagine writing children’s songs to require that same dive into Kid Zone. How do you get to that silly place?
Sylvia: If I'm honest, and I try really hard to be, I don't write about things that kids like and I'm not even sure that I try to make a song work for them. I write about things that I love, still love, and I try to view the world from my own innocent point of view, if that makes sense. Of course, I know I wouldn’t want to sit around for 45 minutes just watching, so I then try and add in movement/actions. Sometimes they are built in with the song and come naturally, sometimes I have to work on it after. My songs are singable, and I think that's because I want to sing with people and I want people to sing. I love choir and although I do perform alone, my heart is full when people sing along. These are my best moments as a performer and it usually happens at a concert, even if it's a child’s first one, because the songs are so singable. It just makes me so happy, I can't even type enough words to tell you.
S&L: Say you could snap your fingers and make your career goals come true. What are you doing, where are you playing, what’s goin’ on in your career?
Sylvia: Goals and focus are a bit of an issue for me, ha! I can't always hone in on what I really want my career to look like. Do I want a TV show? Not sure on that, even though it gives you great exposure. Do I want to hit all the big Children's Festivals in Canada and sell out shows? Yes! Amazing videos everyone watches? Yes! A million followers on Spotify, Apple Music etc, for sure! But mostly it comes down to having people find my music and enjoy singing it with their kids, coming out to concerts and enjoying a great experience with their children, grand children, neighbours, and friends and spreading the word like wildfire that they love my music. Validation: is that what we are all after?
S&L: What’s a biggie you’ve crossed off your list?
Singing with the Saskatoon Symphony twice was big for me and I hope to do that again soon. But really, after every great concert another one comes along, so I forget the last one. Ha! And they’ve just kept coming. Sold out crowds at St. Albert and Spruce Grove Theatres was pretty special, too and who doesn't want more of that? However, every time someone tells me a story about their little one demanding to hear my music again, day after day, showing me videos of them singing or playing 'Sylvia' or hearing that they only fall asleep to my music… that pretty well tops the charts for me.
S&L: Your CD release is coming up on Sunday, September 15. Do you always know what the concert hits will be or are they a surprise? Either way, what’s your prediction for favourite tracks?
Sylvia: I do have a sense of what songs people will like because I usually don't record songs unless I’ve played them live, smoothed some of the edges, and have gotten reactions. And I always like to get Producer, Bart McKay’s okay on the songs, too. I know that people are gonna like the takes on The Party Song and Going to the Library, ‘cause hey, having a full band behind you only makes songs more amazing but there are some tracks people haven't heard yet and that I absolutely love, so I'm interested in the reaction to those ones. I always try to put out a CD that is full of hits but I’m often surprised by the ones that people tell me are their favourites, so I'm looking forward to hearing from the listeners. I can't pick just one out to mention… I just can't!
Scoop up Sylvia Chave’s new album hot off the press at her album release at Delisle Composite School on September 15 at 2PM . Other concert dates can be found on her site. Thanks to Sylvia for the Q&A!