Singer and song-writer Dejah Leger will transport you back to the days of being a child, getting tucked into bed with a story book and a soft lullaby. Although she may perform acoustic lullabies, don’t expect to fall asleep! Dejah pairs her musical stylings with moving panoramic illustrations known as a Crankie. Performing at 4:45 at Loft 2, you will not want to miss this unique performance.
|SCF: What inspires you to create the relaxing style music that you do?
DL: I was very fortunate to grow up with two parents who both sang lullabies to me as a child. They would sing cowboy ballads and even pop songs, but they would always slow them down to a slow, soft lullaby tempo. It helped me realize the freedom that I had as a songwriter to shape music to fit a need. As I sang my own children to sleep, I started to revisit some traditional lullabies in both Acadian French and English, as well as creating some from scratch and putting melodies to poems, like “Wynken, Blynken and Nod,” and even pulling new songs into the lullaby tradition that weren’t there before, like “Mother Earth and Father Time” from Charlotte’s Web. The simplicity of lullabies is deceptive — the power of lullabies is one of the greatest tools we have in our parenting toolbox, and I hope that my CD can be like having another mom and her guitar sitting in the nursery helping your child rest. There’s such a drive in our musical culture to dress things up and layer on synth and extra frills, but I really wanted this project to remain as simple and true-to-form as possible.
SCF: What message do you hope to share with audiences?
DL: Since I pair my songs with a visual art form called a “Crankie,” I hope to show that music is multi-dimensional. We can feel it, hear it, and in this case, see it. There’s no limit to creativity! Music doesn’t have to be just sound. It can also be a warm blanket around you, a beautiful picture, a story, a feeling.
SCF: Exactly is a Crankie and what is the process of making one?
DL: A Crankie is an old folk-art device. Imagine taking an old TV set, pulling out everything inside of it, then taking out the screen. Instead of the screen, there’s paper or felt roll that scrolls by as it’s “cranked” (hence the name Crankie) by hand from above. On the inside is a little light that illuminates the paper as it scrolls by! Although it was once a common story-telling device, it disappeared from our culture almost entirely until just recently. While it is still a very rare sight, the Crankie is beginning to see a renaissance, and now you can come see one too! There’s no “one” way to do a Crankie; some people quilt and appliqué, some draw and color. I paper-cut. Using just an X-acto knife and construction paper, I transform songs and stories into images!
SCF: How will families be able to participate with your performance at Seattle Children’s Festival?
DL: I love for audiences to sing along with me, and I also look forward to teaching some French words!
SCF: Your album titled Hand Sewn Lullabies is so peaceful – probably perfect for cool-down or nap time! Do you ever catch your youngest fans peacefully falling asleep during your shows? How cute would that be!?
DL: I would be thrilled if anyone actually fell asleep!! What a compliment!! With the Crankie as part of the show, kids tend to stay pretty awake and fixed on the pictures, but “calm” is a pretty accurate description of the mood I tend to see most often.
SCF: What can festival attendees expect when they watch you at SCF?
DL: I get very excited to show the audience what a Crankie is and how it works with music. Expect to pick up some words in French, learn what happens when a frog asks a mouse to get married, visit lumberjacks in the far north of Quebec, and watch a crow transform into a beautiful girl!