Re-Bop Records Celebrates 15-Year Journey
VermontÂs independent childrenÂs record label revitalized under the creative direction and courage of founder Diana Winn. Despite setbacks, including the death of her husband and the amputation of her right hand and wrist, Winn is inspiring Re-Bop Records to new heights as it marks its 15th year in 2004.
MARSHFIELD, VT (PRWEB) April 26, 2004 -
Â It all looked so easy at the start. After Re-Bop Records got rolling in 1989, a major record company snatched up its first three titles for national distribution. Re-Bop, which pioneered oldies music for kids, quickly became A&M RecordsÂ second best-selling childrenÂs music act behind Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop.
The immediate success, however, belied the heartbreak and hardships that lay ahead, leading the company and its president, Diana Winn, to some perilously low points. In 1993, WinnÂs 46-year-old husband and business partner, David ÂCrowÂ Levine, died of cancer, putting the creative direction and financial health of the company squarely on her shoulders. The unthinkable happened again in 2000 when doctors were forced to amputate WinnÂs right hand and wrist following a medical mistake.
Despite the setbacks, Winn is now inspiring Re-Bop Records to new heights as it marks its 15th year in 2004. With the decision to move The Re-Bops beyond the increasingly crowded kidsÂ oldies market, Winn has won over a whole new audience of librarians, educators, caregivers, and parents with clever, original recordings that happily justify repeated listenings.
In WinnÂs words: ÂGood kidsÂ music should run the gamut of feelings and not be afraid of metaphors and ambiguity. It should be full of repetition, ingenuity, simplicity, and intelligence. At Re-Bop, we shoot for recordings that are hip without being slick; music that is both authentic and age-appropriate. It gives kids credit for having the whole range of emotions.Â
A Phi Beta Kappa with a masterÂs degree in elementary education, Winn tapped those impressive credentials for two Re-Bop releases in 2003, "WHAT IS IT? Musical Math & Science" and "Mother GooseÂs Never-Ending Tea Party." Both recordings were developed in conjunction with Mother Goose Programs(TM), a literacy and professional development series affiliated with the Library of Congress Center for the Book.
That dual goal of great music and good works continues with the February 2004 release of "Even Kids Get The Blues," a musical primer for the 12-and-under set that showcases the entire range of blues styles. The CD gained the support of Bonnie Raitt, who makes a cameo contribution to the title track, and features Memphis-born jazz and blues vocalist Sandra Wright, the Unknown Blues Band with B. B. King sideman Big Joe Burrell, and a diverse mix of talented kids. Renowned childrenÂs book author and illustrator Thacher Hurd (Mama DonÂt Allow, Zoom City, Art Dog) created the art for the cover and the lyric booklet. The project is being produced and recorded by Chuck Eller, a keyboardist with VermontÂs premiere blues group, the Unknown Blues Band, whose musicians have played with legends such as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Junior Wells, HowlinÂ Wolf, Paul Butterfield, and B. B. King. A portion of the proceeds from this recording will be donated to Little Kids Rock (www. littlekidsrock. org), an innovative non-profit music education program that provides free instruments and instruction to disadvantaged children.
WinnÂs projects regularly involve collaboration with VermontÂs top songwriters and musicians, but it is the incredible kids she records with that give the label its signature sound. This collection of amateur and professional musicians, specifically selected for each project, is the group known to the music industry as The Re-Bops. Children of all ages and from all over New England travel to Re-BopÂs homebase in Marshfield, Vt. to work (and play) under WinnÂs direction and encouragement. It is her particular gift to transform the words, phrases, and funny expressions of kidspeak into engaging dialogue, original lyrics, and enduring themes.
Re-BopÂs latest releases are proudly labeled ÂHomegrown in Vermont,Â and all of WinnÂs music reflects VermontÂs image: high quality, independent, family-friendly, and just a touch quirky. In this, Re-Bop Records joins the stateÂs other icons of childrenÂs retail, Ben & JerryÂs, Zutano, and the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. Since the companyÂs inception, Re-Bop has been involved with community issues and activities, and is a proud member of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility.
ÂAlthough the sudden loss of my hand has compromised my own ability to perform music, it hasnÂt altered by mission a bit: To generate recordings that let families relate, create, communicate, play, solve problems, and exercise imaginations,Â Winn says.
WinnÂs ability to withstand hardships has sustained Re-Bop Records for the past 15 years. The company has evolved along with its president through each challenge, fearlessly exploring new subjects and concepts in childrenÂs audio entertainment. Future plans include extending the Re-Bop world into DVDs, books, and scripts for school performances.
WinnÂs passion, creativity, and resilience have produced a stunningly broad collection of music, all with one common element Â the ability to make kids and their grownups listen to the world in a whole new way.
To celebrate its 15th anniversary, Re-Bop Records is offering "Take a Bite of Re-Bop," a free sampler of 10 full Re-Bop songs. To request your copy, please call 1-800-OK-REBOP (1-800-657-3267) or visit our website at www. reboprecords. com. Re-Bop recordings are available at quality music, book, and childrenÂs gift stores, through major Internet retailers such as Amazon. com and CDBaby. com, or via Re-Bop RecordsÂ toll-free number and website.
For more information or to arrange an interview with Diana Winn, please contact Kristin Fletcher at (802) 426-3481 or kristin@reboprecords. com.
The Re-Bops, a popular oldies band led by Diana Winn on bass, husband David ÂCrowÂ Levine on guitar, and Stephen McArthur on saxophone, rock onto the recording scene with "Oldies for Kool Kiddies," the first release on their own Re-Bop Records label. The creative team of Diana and David handle the production side of the business, while Stephen handles the marketing, distribution, and bookkeeping. The release is quickly followed by "Funny 50Âs & Silly 60Âs" in 1990 and "Raised on Rock ÂN Roll" in 1991.
The three recordings are so popular A&M Records negotiates to bring The Re-Bops on board. Once the deal is done, Re-Bop takes a spot behind Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop as A&MÂs best-selling acts in the childrenÂs division.
The Re-Bops give dads their due with one of the first lullaby tapes made especially for fathers, "DaddyÂs Lullabies." Crow and Diana collaborate on 10 original songs. The 18-song CD version is released four years later, and includes ÂDaddy SaysÂ by Grammy nominee Bill Harley.
"DaddyÂs Lullabies" is to be CrowÂs final recording. The 46-year-old guitarist and songwriter succumbs to cancer, leaving behind Diana and 10-year-old daughter Jessamine, and robbing Re-Bop Records of its visionary leader. When Stephen McArthur opts to devote himself full time to his own business, Diana carries on alone, taking on the responsibility for all creative and financial decisions.
A&M Records drops its childrenÂs music division. Winn reclaims the original three titles, folding them into Re-BopÂs expanding catalog.
Re-Bop releases "Oldies for a Cool Christmas," the first under DianaÂs leadership as ÂChief Re-Bop.Â The project was planned before CrowÂs death, and Diana holds true to the original concept, freshening up several rock-and-roll standards to fit alongside some favorite holiday classics.
Re-Bop makes a right turn with "Motor City Music for Minors," fun new renditions of Motown favorites tied together with a story about a Postwoman, two friends, and a girl and her dog. Parents Magazine includes "Motor City" on its list of ÂThe Best of 1998.Â
Re-Bop revives the art of recitation with "For Kids By Kids: Poems and Song Wannabees." The innovative recording features children ages 3-16 adeptly combining rhythm and rhyme. "For Kids By Kids" wins the prestigious NAPPA Gold Award and makes it onto Child MagazineÂs ÂBest List.Â Also in 1999, Diana works with doo-wop expert Johnny Gale to produce "Re-Bops Jukebox! Party Songs," which unleashes 14 high-energy tunes on the kidsÂ party scene. That same year the company honors its first decade with "Personality Hit Parade," a collection of the goofiest character-driven songs from its first 10 years.
A routine injection to treat a migraine goes horribly wrong for Diana, forcing doctors to amputate her right arm below the elbow. The traumatic event halts production of "Sink or Swim," a decidedly grown-up album Diana wrote about the love and loss of her husband, Crow. "Sink or Swim" is released nearly a year later under Re-BopÂs sister label, Miss Demeanor Music.
"Dogs of Our Lives", a canine soap-opera parody with an oldies/doo-wop sound, has its day.
The partnership between Re-Bop Records and Vermont Center for the Book, currently known as Mother Goose Programs(TM), gathers steam. After producing the cassette "GroovinÂ with Mother Goose" in 2000 for the organizationÂs literacy programs, Re-Bop follows it up with "BouncinÂ with Mother Goose." The hour-long collection of nursery rhymes and original songs becomes the basis for "Mother GooseÂs Never-Ending Tea Party," an award-winning CD released the following April.
The successful collaboration with Mother Goose Programs(TM) continues with "WHAT IS IT? Musical Math & Science," a clever recording of 18 math and science story-songs inspired by picture books. Later in the year, the Re-Bop crew completes recording work on "Even Kids Get The Blues," scheduled for release in February 2004.
Re-Bop enlists the help of website designer Dana Whittle of Vizou to create an innovative, interactive www. reboprecords. com. The full catalog is available on the secure site, along with companion activity sheets, audio clips, printable lyrics, and helpful information for retailers, distributors, and the media. ThereÂs even a kids-only section with a wealth of fun activities. It is also the first childrenÂs music website to offer MP3s, with free and paid downloads of selected songs.