by Josie Rothman
This holiday season, I’ve already received the gift of a lifetime. Which is saying a lot, considering that I am only 10 years old.
That gift was the opportunity to have a dream come true, to produce a holiday CD of the beautiful voices of children from Nyack and Rockland County: Seasons of Love, a Musical Tribute to the Nyack Center.
I wanted to make this CD because I realized how amazing, diverse, and musically talented our kids are. The idea came to me while dancing to kid drummers at last June’s African American Day Parade and Festival. I started thinking about all of these super-talented kids and the Nyack Center’s brand-new recording studio—and something clicked. I realized that we could create a CD showing off all of the talented kids in our county—AND raise money for the Nyack Center and their programs which do so much for our community. Nyack Center Executive Director Kim Cross loved the idea, and said, “Go!”
I got started during the Great Nyack Get-Together in September. Kim encouraged me to hang out at the Nyack Center’s booth with a sign and a clipboard, to recruit people who might want to sing or play an instrument for the CD. I signed up a few kids, but realized that I would have to do much more. My mom helped me make phone calls and videos asking local musicians for help. I met with Kim, Michael Mark, Jeffrey Friedberg, my amazing and supportive Valley Cottage Elementary music teacher Barbara Anderson, and our producer and sound engineer, Chris Pinset. We talked about what would be involved in the recording—and I’ll be honest, in mid-October, not everyone thought we could accomplish the task by our deadline, December 1.
I held an open meeting at the Nyack Center for anyone who might want to be involved, which drew more than 50 kids making up multiple acts. We organized rehearsals with a few of the acts, including the kids at the Nyack Center—and the local musicians who were so generous with their time: Mrs. Anderson, Nyack schools’ music department chair Matt Lucero, Cocomama percussionist Mayra Casales, and Liberty Elementary music teacher Elaine Philhower. So many other musicians and community leaders lent a hand as well: Fran Cathcart, Rivertown director Christopher Yates, Jeffrey Friedberg directing the inspiring Rock ‘n’ Rollers, Princess Warriors leader Rhonda Fleischer, Berea 7th-Day Adventist choir director Joanne Turnbull, pianist Will Rich, Montessori teacher Maija Kupris, Cantor Sally Neff and Rabbi Benjamin Sharff, and guitarists Joel Newton, Robert Rucker, and Chris Palmerini. Even Mayor Jen White makes a surprise appearance—but you’ll have to buy a CD to hear just where!
I could not have really envisioned how the spirit of the project would come together without my friend and fellow musician Lezlee Peterzell-Bellanich. She trusted me with her song, “Our Town Nyack,” which we updated with lyrics about what we love about the Nyack Center and about being kids in this one-of-a-kind town. Writing with her reminded me what the project was really about: coming together as a community to support every child and family. And when we were stumped finding a rhyme, almost on cue beloved Riverview teacher Lynnette Marshall came along with the perfect line! As my mom would say, #PureNyack!
Recording was so much fun and was a great learning experience for me. Our first recording was confusing, so much going on—but as we were doing it, I started to catch on. I used to think when I listened to the radio that all the singers and instruments were recorded at the same time. But Chris taught me that first we have to lay down the guitar or piano, then the lead singers, then the chorus, the percussion, etc. I learned what all of those little buttons mean on the huge board, the way to make the singers sound good together, how to mix the music, how to cut the singing, then punch in, and so many other things that go into making a song. The recording part was so much fun!
Of course, the CD couldn’t be completed without a beautiful cover—7-year-old Danna Marroquin’s adorable snowman drawing and Matt DuBeau’s classic design. When I saw the finished product, I just wanted to cry. It was just what we all dreamed: 16 tracks of songs from every genre, different faiths, and dozens of great kids making music for a special cause.
Making a dream happen requires late nights in the recording studio, having to miss other events/obligations, and eating a lot of pizza! But the Nyack Center means so much to me, and I really believe this CD represents our town and our kids so well that every minute was worth it.
All proceeds from The Season of Love benefit The Nyack Center. You can purchase the CD for $15 at these Nyack shops: Maria Luisa, P. Ross Boutique, Christine Cordey Salon, Kiam Records, Nyack Gourmet and LoryBird. The album is also available for sale at The Nyack Center and the YMCA.
Josie Rothman, a 5th grader at Valley Cottage Elementary School, will be appearing on Dec 9 at 7p at the Nyack Center’s Music and Readings in a Holiday Spirit, joining award-winning writer David Means, the Rockland Community Choir, The Rock and Rollers, Jessi and Keith Olsen, Rev. Owen Thompson of Grace Episcopal Church, the Manhattan School of Music Theatre Ensemble and Sean Flemming. The Nyack Center is located on 58 Depew Ave, Nyack.