Esther Crow is an award-winning singer, songwriter, kids’ entertainer, teacher, care-giver, and sometimes-actor, who lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Her family-friendly retro-rock focuses in on climate activism while delivering a tantalizing treat for our ears. Her sound is authentic, edgy, and full of rich texture that draws listeners in. Her melodies and lyrics are expertly combined to create meaningful messages. Esther Crow is kindie retro-rock royalty. Her new album, Listen Lead Love, is pure gold and if you haven't heard it yet, please do yourself a favour and go listen to it, go share it, and go follow this amazing human as she blazes a path for the next generation of musical activists.
Congratulations on the release of your new album, Listen Lead Love! Earth Day was the big release day, which is perfectly suited for the messages woven throughout. How long have you been working on this amazing project?
Thanks so much Stephanie! I believe the very first melody I came up with was for The Leader in You (which features Father Goose Music and kids from Kare Afrika in Uganda) back in June, 2021 which is the same month I had released my first solo album for kids (All Together Now). I had no idea what the song would be, and for the next year plus, I kept walking away and coming back to it. In the meantime, Feelings are a Rollercoaster (featuring Kymberly Stewart Music) and Stuff!, a single I released on Earth Day, 2022, came to me pretty easily. I also came up with the concept for Start The Discussion (featuring Strawbitty Yops) around that time. At first, my plan was to release an EP of 5 or 6 songs. But at the beginning of last fall, I decided to do a full-length, and then I quickly needed to write more songs. So 5 of the songs were written fairly fast.
Your style is so unique and refined. I love your vibe! When you sit down to write songs, do you have ideas or themes in mind already, or do they start to emerge after you have your melodies/harmonies?
I'm grateful you're digging my vibe! Thank you so much. I find the process of songwriting fascinating and elusive, and although I usually start with a melody and then flesh out lyrics, sometimes both come to me at the same time. That's how Start the Discussion was written. I even remember walking home through the park after a boot camp class and the chorus just popped into my head. I knew I wanted to do a song about turning climate talk into action. I was inspired by a recent podcast that encouraged people to simply talk about the climate crisis because then we could create a contagious situation in which it's passed on and might lead to real action. That song was a lot of fun to write and I'm really happy with what producer extraordinaire- Dean Jones- added with instrumentation and vocals. And then Strawbitty Yops added great harmonies!
What is your favourite song from your new album? (I have a three-way tie between Solar Power, Start the Discussion, and March! They are all total fire!!!)
Wow! I love your selections and I must tell you that March! was the very last song I wrote, and I'm pleasantly surprised with how it's resonating with people because I thought it might be a throwaway. But once Dan, my husband, got into the studio and played his sizzling guitar riffs, bass line and drums, I knew it might be a hit. All credit goes to him and Dean Jones! And our 9-yr-old son, Vincent, also added congas and cute vocals. I like to call that one "Baby's first protest song" LOL. Solar Power, Start the Discussion and Feelings are a Rollercoaster are three favorites but if I had to pick only one song on my album, it would be The Leader in You feat. Father Goose Music (who is also a co-writer). That song, which also features the Kare Afrika Kids chorus, was a labor of love and near and dear to me for multiple reasons. It's also a personal feat for me as I conquered some fears through writing it: I finally started to envision myself as a leader while also uplifting others to be leaders. The concept of a "leader" became less elusive or scary to me, because I realized the true definition of a leader is far from a dictator who is "in charge" but instead just a regular, everyday human being who listens to others and shows love and compassion. And we're all capable of that behavior when we're supported by others.
If you had a time machine and could back in time to right before you started making children's music, what is one piece of advice you would give yourself?
Don't do a run of 1,000 CDs LOL!! I still have CDs coming out of my ears from my first album for children- This is Thunder & Sunshine (with a 6 piece band I put together called Thunder & Sunshine back in 2016). But seriously: the one piece of advice I'd have given myself and would give to any new artist in the family music genre is this: find your people! Find other Kindie musicians and dive into the community. I'm so grateful that I DID find you, and so many other wonderful people in kids music, but it wasn't until the beginning of Covid hit that I met so many. I think that's true for a lot of us because we were forced into a virtual world and spent more time on social media etc. But it was great for making world-wide connections and lifelong friendships. And continuing with the theme of leadership and community: we do better when we uplift each other. We are each so different and add to this big Kindie quilt. There's a place for all of us so even though we may compete for the same festivals or awards, we can- and should- also cheer each other on.
Do you write music with your family band or solo? If you could do a collaboration with any artist out there, who would it be?
I write solo but both Dan and Vincent are also great songwriters (tho Vincent won't admit it!). We're talking about doing a Crow Family Band project in the future and Dan already has one or two songs written. Hmmm...I'd love to do a rockin' collaboration with Divinity Roxx!
What advice would you give to youth who are looking to get involved in the climate fight?
Either join an existing youth group- like TREEage in NYC, or Fridays for Future and Sunrise Movement, which are national groups- or start your own. Direct actions targeted at people who hold power (legislators) or control the money (banks, investment companies, asset management companies) are the best way to make an impact. We can recycle and compost til the cows come home (and speaking of cows, definitely cut your meat consumption!) but it's up to the people who control our laws and hold the most wealth to really make the huge change we need before it's too late to reverse global heating. We must be laser-focused on shifting away from fossil fuels and towards renewable forms of energy. Also: bringing music, art and comedy to any action will draw more folks into our collective, worldwide movement. Plus, it's FUN! Any parents who are in the NYC area should join Climate Families NYC- a creative, grassroots group with which Vincent and I do actions.