As we grow and move throughout this world, there are times when we forget about the important roles that songs, words and art play in our lives. We get so caught up into the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we fail to appreciate what makes this world beautiful and worth living in.
With their recent collaborative effort, “Rock-A-Bye Baby: A New Lullaby,” author Candide Jones, musician Laurelyn Dossett and illustrator Steve Emery aim to give parents and their children a lovely image of the magic and beauty that our world contains.
“Well, before anything else, I’m a mother. When my kids were younger I used to always sing ‘Rock-A-Bye Baby’ to help put them to sleep, and I just remember thinking that as a lullaby it was such a dry, sad song,” Jones explained as she talked about her original inspiration and motivation for creating the book. “It was terrible! I mean, the baby falls at the end of the song! So my goal was to rewrite the song and just make it better. I wanted to make it something that can be read or sung, and have an equally positive effect on children and on the parents. I want it to be something for them to look back on and have happy memories about.”
As she set out to achieve her goal of getting the book published, Jones realized that it was going to be a much greater challenge than she originally expected.
“This is actually only the first children’s book that I’ve ever done,” Jones explained. “I’ve been in the book publishing business for decades, publishing poetry with the Wake Forest University Press. But the process to publish a children’s book was much longer and more difficult.”
“When we publish books of poetry, anybody is able to send in their manuscript for review,” Jones explained. “But when I began the process of publishing ‘Rock-A-Bye Baby,’ I learned that publishing companies were only interested in publishing manuscripts that were sent in from known agents. Eventually I decided to go a new route and self-publish the book.”
In order to bring her full vision to life, Jones decided to collaborate with singer-songwriter Laurelyn Dossett and artist Steve Emery.
“Candy and I have known each other for decades,” Dossett elaborated. “We originally met through our husbands who work together, but were also in a book club together.”
“When I started working on the book, I realized it had a very melodic feel to it,” Jones added. “I thought it would be great for me to incorporate a musical element into it. I knew Laurelyn was a musician, and just thought she would be perfect.”
“When Candy came to me with the idea to sing these lyrics I was on board instantly. I loved the idea. I just had to find a new way to sing it,” Dossett continued. “I was excited to work with her because we had already been friends for years. So I knew her background, I respected her artistically and I knew that she was talented. When she came to me with the idea, I was happy to be a part of it.”
So with Candide Jones as the author and Laurelyn Dossett recording music for the book, their roster was almost complete. All Jones needed was to find an illustrator who could bring the words to life visually. When she came across Steve Emery’s work online, she knew he was the perfect artist to do it.
“Steve and I didn’t know each other when we first started working on the book. I just saw his work online and thought he would be the perfect artist to do the illustrations,” Jones said. “He took a little while to warm up to the idea, but we eventually began working on it together. Halfway through the process I realized that the book was too short, and I needed to add more verses. So when those were done I asked Steve to do more pictures.”
“The way Candy and I met was a pretty strange coincidence,” Emery explained. “She just came across one of my old blog posts online and ended up taking a look at some of my art, and then ended up contacting me about doing the illustrations for the book. So I began doing some of the paintings for the book. Interestingly, we ended up meeting in person for the first time months later when we both just happened to be at coffee shop.”
“Rock-A-Bye Baby: A New Lullaby,” aims to combine the three art forms of poetry, music and art. With verses written by Candide Jones, a song performed by Laurelyn Dossett (the link to the download can be found in the back of the book) and illustrations created by Steve Emery, it is a true collaboration and an example of what is possible when the arts come together for one common cause.
“This process has been a great experience for me personally it really showed me that if you have faith in yourself and believe in your ideas, then you can still achieve your goals no matter what. I want this book to help parents and children to see how magical art can be, and I want it to redeem the ‘Rock-A-Bye Baby’ lullaby,” Jones explained.
“I feel like in the world of digital music, parents and children don’t sing together as much,” Dossett replied. “And I think it’s really important to encourage young parents to sing to their children, and I believe this book will help do that.”
All in all, “Rock-A-Bye Baby: A New Lullaby,” is a book that will help people to appreciate and admire the art and beauty of this world, an idea that Steve Emery elaborated on in his closing statement.
“I’ve been doing art since I was two years old,” Emery said. “I remember as a teenager I used to try playing games with my drawings and paintings and try to see how many animals I could hide in the scenery, and that’s the same approach I took with this project. My goal is for this book to help kids to look at the world in a more magical way. During my drive to Greensboro for the book release, I remember looking outside at the clouds and just being awe struck at the way the sun touched them. It was just beautiful. And I just hope this book can give kids a love of the rhythm of the poetry, and just make them pay more attention to everything, because our daily lives can make it so easy to walk past the beauty of the world and it doesn’t have to be that way.”
“Rock-A-Bye Baby: A New Lullaby,” is out now and available at Scuppernong Books in downtown Greensboro. For parents, children and young people alike, it is worth the investment.