Leeny and Tamara

10th Annual Children’s Music Song Nominee

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Vote Now For This Artist At The Vox Pop

Record Label: n/a

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Interview with Leeny of Leeny and Tamara

Home Base: SAFE!!!!
Leeny grew up in the great state of New Jersey (Exit 135 on the Garden State Parkway), and now lives in Gloucester, MA, America’s oldest seaport! Tamara is from the Bronx and has called New York City home for many years.

Genre: Children’s music.

Category Entered: Children’s Music Song

Work Submitted: “Ladybug, Ladybug, Ladybu-u-ug”

Artists Featured: The song features Leeny on lead and background vocals and keyboards, Tamara on background vocals, and our lovely and talented producer Art Hays on acoustic and electric guitar, bass, and drum programming. The handclaps were a group effort!

Label: “Hey man, don’t try to label us!” (actually it’s Leeny Tunes)


Influences: The Three B’s: Beethoven, The Beatles, and Ben Folds. I also have a disturbing affinity for the music of the 1980s.

Is there any special meaning behind your names? Leeny was a childhood nickname for Ilene, which comes from the Latin word “Leenia” meaning “she who likes to sing about stinky diapers.”

Describe your nominated work: Meet The Beetles! I have always loved ladybugs, and the original incarnation of the song was really just a quiet ode to a ladybug. Once we started searching online to find out more about our six-legged friends, we came across the website for the Lost Ladybug Project, which is a research study founded by entomologists at my alma mater, Cornell University. This neat coincidence inspired me to take the song in a completely different direction – a fun, catchy, sing-along, packed with interesting ladybug facts. The entomologists liked “Ladybug, Ladybug, Ladybu-u-ug” so much that they ended up adopting it as the Lost Ladybug Project’s theme song! You can detect a musical homage to a couple of tunes from the 1950s, Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” and Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue.”

Why did you choose to submit this work to The 10th IMA’s? Because ladybugs are awesome! Ladybugs serve a vital and extremely cool role in the ecosystem eating aphids and other plant pests that can destroy crops and gardens. But, now the ladybugs need our help! Over the past two decades, several native ladybugs that were once very common have become quite rare. This has happened quickly and The Lost Ladybug Project is trying to figure out why and what the impact will be on ladybug diversity and their function of keeping plant-feeding insect populations low. For more information, please visit www.lostladybug.org and see how the whole family can get involved as Citizen Scientists!

Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording? No ladybugs were harmed in the recording of this song. The percussion you hear during the quiet third verse is actually Art playing on the wood top of his acoustic guitar.

Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned? Well, I would not exactly call this happy, though there was a miraculous outcome to the accident. On the first day of recording at Art’s studio in NYC, we heard that a plane had crash-landed into the Hudson River, just a couple of miles from us. Later we discovered the heroic story of Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III and US Air Flight #1549. It felt like this album would be inextricably tied to that event.

Did fans help you fund this project? No. Darn it, I knew I forgot something!

Who’s sitting in your audience? There had better not be anyone SITTING in our audience, unless they’re all pooped out from dancing, singing, and running around with us!

What makes your fans unique? They know more about ladybugs than anyone else’s fans.

Are there any songs you wish you wrote? If I had to pick just one, I’d go with “Respect” by Otis Redding. Not only is it educational with the spelling and all, but Aretha’s performance makes it the #1 sassiest song of all time!

What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans? I can’t imagine that anything would surprise our fans, except maybe if I were listening to Gregorian chants at full blast with the top down on my Jeep. Usually I listen to the Gregorian chants with the top up.

What is your dream show lineup? I would like to re-experience the first concert that I ever attended. MTV presented an evening at the Felt Forum in NYC with the Holy Trinity of the 1980s: Pee Wee Herman, General Public, and The Fixx. A number of hysterical girls ran on stage to touch Cy Curnin and had to be dragged away by security. Good times.

What are your guilty pleasures on the road? I prefer to think of them as innocent pleasures.

Any close calls or mishaps while on tour? What could possibly go wrong with a band full of middle-aged guys?! Occasionally, we lose of one of our kid backup singers – The Eeny Meenys – to soccer practice, drama class, or Little League, but we try to schedule around their busy social calendars whenever we can:)

Do you have any rituals before you go on stage? Just try to limit the dairy intake before I sing, because otherwise, you know… yuchhh. And I also have to make sure that my giant crayons and bubbles are handy, and that my epidermis isn’t showing!

Should music be free? If someone can pay 99 cents for a bottle of water that is going to be consumed in five minutes, it doesn’t seem like too much to ask for them to pay 99 cents for a song that will last forever and hopefully provide at least as much enjoyment.

How has digital affected your career? I have to spend lots more time on a computer than I want to when I would rather be outside mountain biking or playing Frisbee!

Are digital singles vs. full albums the future of music? Hang on a sec, if you want me to see the future then I need to consult my Magic 8 Ball… Uh oh, it says: “Better not tell you now.”

Finish this sentence: The music industry is… Musiikkiteollisuus on… Oh sorry, I read that as “Finnish” this sentence. My bad. (I apologize to Finns if that was not an accurate translation – blame Google!)