Kira Willey

11th Annual Children’s Music Album Vox Pop Winner
11th Annual Children’s Music Song Winner

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Record Label: Self-Released

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Home Base: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

Genre: Children’s

Categories Entered: Children’s Album, Children’s Song

Work Submitted: Album: Kings & Queens of the Forest, Song: “Roller Coaster”

Artists Featured: Kira Willey

Label: Self-Released

Who are your influences? Paul Simon, Patty Griffin, Paul McCartney

Describe your nominated work. Kings & Queens of the Forest is a unique, two-in-one album that blends upbeat, danceable music with get-up-and-move yoga inspiration. The collection of 13 joyful folk/pop originals also features 13 bonus yoga tracks with my instructional voiceovers. Included in the album is a lyric booklet that guides parents with illustrations of my kid-friendly yoga routines.

“Roller Coaster” is an upbeat kids’ pop song about the joy of a childhood rite of passage – the big ‘coaster. With its hooky chorus featuring a bunch of gleeful kids’ voices, it just begs children to dance and sing along.

Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording? It’s straight-ahead folky, family-friendly pop with lots of guitars, mandolin and ukulele, and a few horns thrown in.

Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned? Way too many donuts were consumed, but aside from that, it went pretty smoothly.

How did you raise the funds for this project? How long do you expect it will take to recoup your out-of-pocket recording expenses? Fortunately the sales from my first album, Dance for the Sun, funded the recording of this one. And I’m on track to record the next album within the year.

Why did you choose to submit this work to The 11th IMAs? I’ve had the honor of winning two Independent Music Awards in the past, and was thrilled by the recognition and career boost it gave me.

What’s your definition of success and how will you know when you’ve achieved it? Whenever I receive an email from a family who’s loving my music, or hear from a teacher or therapist that their jobs are easier because of my songs, that’s success to me. Of course a Grammy would be great too.

How will you leverage your IMA honors to achieve your career goals? I’ll promote the IMA nomination throughout my social networks and among my fans, and of course make stickers to put on my CDs – it really makes people pick them up and be more inclined to buy.

Who’s sitting in your audience and what makes your fans unique? My fans are unique in that they still take naps and drink from sippy cups – but the people who do the actual buying are their parents, so I really have to satisfy both with my music, which can be a  fun challenge.

What is your guilty pleasure on the road? Any close calls or mishaps while on tour? Guilty pleasure – chocolate in between sets. Not what singers are supposed to be eating! The worst recent mishap I had was dropping my violin off the stage onto the pavement, in between sets. It cracked in three places, and I was on in 10 minutes – I still played it!

Who are your musical heroes & influences? Paul Simon, Patty Griffin, Paul McCartney

Are there any songs you wish you wrote and why? “Blackbird” by Paul McCartney, “Mary” by Patty Griffin, “Bleecker Street” by Paul Simon; they’re just brilliant, timeless songs.

What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans? I love the Wailin’ Jennys and Red Molly these days. I love the gorgeous harmonies.

How do you discover new music? Do you buy music or are you content with streaming? I do still buy music! From the independent artist’s perspective, it’s really important. And I always buy the CD when I see a band live that I like.

How will musicians make a living if fans continue to expect music to be free? That’s a tough one, but every music fan I know understands the need to support artists, and the way to do that is to actually buy music from the artists you like.

What don’t fans/audiences understand about the music industry today? How hard it is to write/rewrite/record/produce/mix/master just that one song – and it’s over in two and a half minutes. Just the incredible amount of work that goes into it.

Are digital singles/EPs vs. full albums the future? They might be for “grownup” music, but in the children’s genre, albums still work: families listen to full CDs in the car, and kids really like to hold the physical product in their hands, and see the album art.

Finish this sentence: The music industry is… always changing. Independent artists have to be flexible, and keep an open mind and positive attitude.

What do you have in the works for the upcoming year? Lots of shows this summer, and planning to record a lullaby album, and a family music collection for release this fall.

Where fans can find you and your music:
Kira’s CD Baby page
Kira’s facebook page