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Baby on the Subway: Interview with Musical Artist Camille Harris

Baby on the Subway

"Baby on the Subway" is a new album by Camille Harris.

“Baby on the Subway” is a new album by Camille Harris who is an award-winning, Brooklyn-based “silly jazz” singer. This album is her fourth release and it was created in conjunction with a team of brilliant jazz players who are in perfect sync with her own blazing vocal and instrumental talents. “Baby on the Subway” will be released on September 13, 2019.

Mixing sparklingly fresh, re-imagined renditions of well-loved traditional children’s songs with her own effervescent tunes, Camille had the benefit of a five-year seasoning at Brooklyn Public Library branches, where she “kid-tested” her music in front of thousands of children. A sweet sense of humor is never far from the surface of Camille Harris’s songs, and many were originally written to play for adult audiences.

A musician, comedian, composer and playwright, Camille was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, and now living in Brooklyn, New York. She holds a BFA in Musical Theater from Boston’s Emerson College and teaches music theory, musical theater, piano, and voice. Her compositions have been featured on projects and commercials for clients such as Nickelodeon, Adobe, Merrill Lynch, and more.

“Baby on the Subway” will be available for digital download and streaming at iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and other digital retailers. CDs will be available at select retail outlets in NYC, at Sidetracks in Charlottesville, VA, and at Camille Harris’s live shows.”

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in music and how come you focus on kid’s music?

Camille Harris (CH): I started learning music at the age of 3 in a Kindermusik program at my pre-school. At the age of 4 1/2 I began learning piano with the Suzuki method. This meant that my music education was focused on learning by ear and included constant participation by my wonderfully devoted parents. I studied with my teacher Carol Pulchalski until I was 18 years old. She is still a dear friend, and it was she who encouraged me to become a piano teacher myself. In high school I attended the Rocky Mountain Vocal Jazz Camp, which was run by the Los Angeles based a capella and pop-jazz vocal group M-pact as well as members of the vocal jazz group The New York Voices. It was there that I discovered a true interest in pursuing music as a career. At Emerson College in Boston, I studied music and composition with composer Scott Wheeler, and I was chosen to participate in a master class with the composer, Adam Guettel. Most recently I have participated in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater workshop, as well as in the Composer-Librettist Studio at The New Dramatistsunder the tutelage of Nautilus Music-Theater creative director, Ben Krywosz, and opera composer, Roger Ames. I believe strongly in the value of the silly, and I also respect children’s ability to hear and enjoy complex and rich music. In this world filled with so much sadness, the challenge for me is finding the humor in life and bringing it to life. Children are made of pure emotions, and I believe that the more joy and love someone is exposed to in their early childhood, the better off they are for the rest of their lives. I love the kind of music that people sing and whistle when they are happy. I want to spend my life writing music that makes people smile. Family music is the perfect outlet for me to achieve this goal.

Baby on the Subway

Camille Harris is a singer who is living in Brooklyn.

MM: How did you go about breaking into the music scene?

CH: Back in Boston at Emerson College, I started performing my stand-up and comedy music songs at venues like Improv Boston, The Comedy Studio, as well as at the Emerson College campus’s various performance spaces. After moving to NYC in 2008, I started producing and co-writing the bi-weekly Brooklyn “alternate comedy” show The Moon that was presented at The Royal Oak, Union Pool, UCB, UCB East and 92Y Tribeca. I’ve gotten the opportunity to perform at Caroline’s on Broadway, UCB, The PIT, as well as Rockwood Music Hall, CMJ 2014, SXSW 2014 in the Dailymotion Comedy Music Showcase, The NYC International Fringe Festival 2009, and Ars Nova Theater’s ANT Fest 2008. It was during this time of extreme creative productivity that I produced my own musical, Muffin Man, at the New York International Fringe Festival and began teaching and performing around the tri-state area as a musician full time.

MM: How much of an influence is Brooklyn on your creativity?

CH: I’ve lived in Brooklyn for 11 years now, and it certainly influences most all of my art. I wrote the song “Baby on the Subway” after riding the F train in Brooklyn because I wanted to write an ode to the way that people from all walks of life (anyone from a construction worker to a ballet dancer to a high school kid to an elderly couple) come together to fawn over smiling babies on the subway. Babies are the great democratic equalizer, and I love them.

MM: How did you get the idea for the songs on “Baby on the Subway”?

CH: The songs on this album are a culmination of four years of performing at the Brooklyn Public Library branches that I tested in front of thousands of children. My band — Georgia Weber, Dave Tedeschi, and Wayne Tucker — helped me to arrange the whole album. We tested this material countless times around Brooklyn, and this set is what we settled on for the final presentation of this project.

MM: Of all the songs, have you any special favorites and what can audiences expect from your concerts?

CH: My favorite song on the album is, “Jiggly Wiggly.” Originally written for adults at comedy clubs as an absurdist number, I realized that it was the perfect song to play for children. To dance the “Jiggly Wiggly,” all you have to do is flail your limbs around over and over while the band plays. This track features a drum solo by Dave Tedeschi and a piano solo by Hila Kulik. It’s silly and fun with a sophisticated melody and beat that was inspired by sambas and rumbas and my experiences dancing salsa, bachata, and merengue around NYC. It’s always a hit at library shows where the kids go crazy jumping all over.

Baby on the Subway

Camille Harris is very inspired by jazz.

MM: What are you most looking forward to regarding the release of the album?

CH: I’m most excited to share this music with my students and my new little nephew!

MM: You also write plays, so what are they about and where have they been produced?

MM: I wrote my musical Muffin Man as my honors thesis at Emerson College. Muffin Man was presented by the Present Company as part of the International Fringe Festival 2009. It premiered at the Lafayette Theater at 45 Bleeker and was extended as part of the FringeNYC Encore Series at the Playhouse Theater. Muffin Man is a musical romantic comedy about a high school student’s first day as a barista at her summer job, and it tells the story about how she professes her love to her lifelong crush. It is available for licensing by Samuel French Inc. and has been performed by high schools around the country! I got to go see a production at a high school in Houston, TX, and it was one of the best days of my life!

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To learn more about Camille Harris, visit her official websiteInstagram, and Facebook.

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