Charlie Hope’s first album, I’m Me, came out last year and was an instant hit. Charlie’s voice is so rich and her melodies sweet and effortless.
The album’s cover art of a musician sitting under a tree with a group of children really captures the feel of the CD: Here is a collection of beautifully simple songs to sing and share together.
This album became a quick favorite with our family and we were excited to see her play her very first live show for kids back in July of last year at Stellabella Toys in Cambridge.
She’s since performed all over the state, even though she’s currently living on the West Coast. “It’s easier to put on shows here so I come back more often,” says Charlie. “And it’s fun to do because I have family here, too.” Charlie has deep roots in Massachusetts so we’re sure to see her in the area often. She’s planning to come back on October 30th to be part of the KidsBeet Concert Series!
Boston Children’s Music: World of Dreams is our favorite lullaby CD. Every song on the album moves so smoothly into the next and it actually helps my son fall asleep. Did you put a lot of thought into the production of the CD?
Charlie Hope: My producer and I knew that we wanted it to flow and I also wanted to make sure to put the livelier songs first. Loved, for example, starts a little lively so I made sure it was near the beginning of the album—since you’re not really sleeping yet.
I was nannying as I wrote these songs and the little boy I was caring for, Liam, wouldn’t go to sleep on his own so I had to rock him. And sometimes he’d wake up after I laid him down and I’d have to rock him again. So I listened to a lot of lullaby CDs and I picked up on what worked and what didn’t. I liked the albums that were a bit more new agey and ethereal, but I also felt that there weren’t enough lullaby CDs with original songs. I also preferred the songs that were sung in a soothing voice rather than a choral voice.
BCM: So you really were thinking about how to help kids fall asleep while you put this album together.
Charlie: I was really careful while writing the songs, too. In Dreamland I sing about riding in a rocket ship and at first I worried that it was too thought provoking. Would kids be just falling asleep and then think “Oooh! A rocket ship!” and wake back up? In the end I decided it was OK, but I placed that song toward the beginning of the CD as well.
I also wanted to write songs that children could relate to and that their parents could relate to. There are a couple songs sung in the voice of a parent singing to their child. I also thought they could be songs that parents could learn and sing to their kids themselves. Loved is actually about the boy I nannied for. I’m still super close to that family.
BCM: That song captures so well the intense feeling of love parents feel for their kids.
Charlie: I tried to be very observant of parents that I worked with as a nanny. Like with the song Best Part, I know a lot of parents feel that way, that they have to work all day, but the best part of the day is when they get home to their child.
And with Sun and Moon I wanted to create a song that could turn into a timeless melody, something you could hum or sing to a child at night.
BCM: I love the line in Dreamland about how your dogs talked to you in a dream and told you what they were thinking and you said “I know, I know, that’s what I thought you’d be thinking.”
Charlie: [laughs] And I don’t even have a dog, but Liam, the little boy I nannied, has two dogs, so I got the idea from him. My next album is going to have a dog song, too.
BCM: Can you talk a little bit about your next album?
Charlie: I’m not positive how it’s going to turn out yet; we’re still working on a few things. It may turn into a volume series. It should be released in late winter or early spring. The last one took a lot longer, but now that I’ve been through the process once, I’m moving a bit faster.
I feel…I am where I should be and I’m doing what I should be doing. I feel like I’m moving in the right direction. I feel like all of that positive energy and focus is finally coming back to me.
BCM: You talked about how you’ve nannied. Are the kids you’ve nannied your inspiration for writing children’s songs?
Charlie: I’ve been working with Liam since he was three months and now he’s four, so he’s been a huge inspiration for me. His little brother is nineteen months now.
BCM: Are you still working with them?
Charlie: I actually just had to move on. I was still babysitting a lot, but I wasn’t consistent enough anymore since I was traveling more for music. But, in a way, I do feel like they are my children and I miss them terribly.
BCM: Did you ever sing songs to them that ended up on your album?
Charlie: Oh, yes. I had been thinking, children’s music can be so simple, then I came to liam’s one day and he was wearing cowboy boots and I started singing a melody to “I wear my cowboy boots on my feet.” Later he was having a snack and we started talking about other types of shoes, like running shoes and flip flops.
Another time Liam and I were playing with a balloon and I just started singing “blue balloon you float through the air” and the melody just came to me. I had to write it down so I wouldn’t forget it, then later I went home and had to come up with the rhymes, which isn’t my favorite part.
BCM: I’ve noticed that some of your songs don’t rhyme, especially on World of Dreams, but they still sound beautiful.
Charlie: I know it’s important for kids to have songs that rhyme, but it’s never really come naturally to me. The songs on World of Dreams are more ambient so I can get away with words that are just similar sounding. Like in Sun and Moon I say “At night the sun goes down and it’s time to sleep, I’ve played all day and learned my ABC’s” and rhyme sleep with C’s. I said to my producer, “See, that rhymes,” and he said, “It’s OK, but it’s not a rhyme.” But it’s my kind of rhyme.
Charlie: I’ve always tried to think positively. Growing up I always had high hopes and would really put the belief out there. I would be very positive—of course it usually didn’t work! But I’ve always been the type of person who will say, “Yeah, I can feel it, this is going to be it, this is going to work out!”
Now with how things are going with I’m Me I feel like it’s a real sign that I am where I should be and I’m doing what I should be doing. I feel like I’m moving in the right direction. I feel like all of that positive energy and focus is finally coming back to me.
BCM: How do you think your fans will respond to your next album?
Charlie: I don’t even really know how I was able to write and record I’m Me and World of Dreams in such a short amount of time. It just seemed that everything was right in the universe and it all came together. Now looking forward to my next album, I’m a little worried that I won’t be able to top I’m Me, that maybe things won’t come together like that again. I want to record something that will be timeless and I hope it will become something that will last, like Raffi. I want to portray a real respect for children and a relatability.
So this next album is going to be very different. There’s no I’m Me or Frog Song type of song. At first I was really worried about that, but I think it’ll be OK. I lived in the Arctic for six months and there are no trees there, but the area has its own beauty and you don’t miss the trees because there aren’t any. So I hope listeners won’t miss the Frog Song on this next album because there aren’t any songs like that here. I hope it has its own beauty.