Farmington artist sings tunes for tots

Farmington musician Alison Cromie released her first children’s album, “Music for Everyone Under the Sun,” in April. Cromie will perform at the Dakota County Fair this year, and hopes to inspire a love of music in children.

Alison Cromie recently released her first children’s album

Alison Cromie isn’t a parent who tells her children it’s time for bed or time to brush their teeth.

Instead, she’s usually singing to them.

“Just like my mom did with me, I am the crazy mom who sings everything we’re doing, and if we’re going upstairs to brush our teeth, I’m singing some weird ‘Brush your teeth’ song,” Cromie said.

This habit might not be that unusual, but Cromie decided to take her musical inclinations a step further. She started capturing those moments and has recorded songs for children.

Now she has enough material for a 10-song album, “Music for Everyone Under the Sun,” which was released in April.

Musical beginnings

Cromie, the mother of to two sons ages 4 and 7, grew up in a musical family, but didn’t start studying singing until high school when a friend introduced her to the musical “Jekyll & Hyde.” She said she found her voice by singing along with the lead vocalist on the recording, and she went on to major in theater.

But some might call Cromie’s interest in performing children’s music a twist of fate.

While at a women’s networking luncheon in 2016, Cromie said a life and business psychic medium named Amber Annette sat next to her.

Immediately, Annette turned to Cromie and asked if she was a writer.

The answer was a flat no.

But Annette persisted, saying she had an intuition that Cromie should write for children.

After leaving the luncheon, Cromie thought about what Annette had said and remembered an idea she had about recording the songs she sang to her own sons.

“I’m a little more of a skeptic myself, but I was like, ‘OK, let’s see what happens.’ Within 24 hours, I had that first one written,” Cromie said.

Cromie played the song, called “Don’t Put Your Fingers in Your Nose,” for her children when she picked them up after work that day.

“If they could’ve been rolling in their seats, they would’ve been if they weren’t strapped in. It was a huge hit for them, and so it kind of gave me that confidence to keep going with it,” Cromie said.

Sources of inspiration

Much like her first song’s title suggests, Cromie said she either likes to write songs that are silly, absurd and make people laugh, or she likes to get on the same level as the children she’s singing to.

Some of her songs, like “There’s a Baby in My House,” are from the viewpoint of a child, while some are inspired by her own children.

One song, “LaLa the Dinosaur,” was based on a hop-along dinosaur toy that her son got for Christmas one year. Cromie heard her son singing a melody as he was playing and it became the inspiration for the song’s chorus.

Other ideas come from her day job as a program manager at a Burnsville-based website design agency. A seemingly unlikely source of inspiration was a client who works for a cranberry supplier.

“(My client) has this persona called Captain Cran Man, and so I was like ‘Oh my God.’ And literally, he went to (the online service marketplace) Fiverr and had someone draw it out and everything, and I was like ‘I have to write a song about this — like what does Captain Cran Man do?”

That quirky client’s alter ego led to a song about a superhero and his dog saving a frog in a bog, but Cromie changed the title to “Captain Crayon Man” to make the tune more relatable to children.

Style of music

Her family’s love of bluegrass and folk music led Cromie to start playing acoustic guitar in 2015, and for her children’s songs, she primarily uses ukulele.

Her sound could change in the future, but for right now, Cromie is happy to strum away on the ukulele.

“It relates to the kids; it’s their size. They have a lot of fun with it, and it’s got that light, bright sound. However, I … love to learn new instruments. I’m kind of trying to learn violin right now, and I would love to be able to put more instrumentation into my songs. So it’s a possibility, but it’s not a plan,” Cromie said.

Cromie has made several appearances at BlueNose Coffee in Farmington along with a local puppet named Boink (the creation of Farmington resident Jeff Achen), and the two children’s performers were “packing the place,” Cromie said.

One of Cromie’s favorite parts of events like those is when children come up to her afterward to talk or strum the ukulele. She said she likes making the experience interactive for the children.

“The reason why I really do this is because I love to make kids laugh. I love the interactions and bringing music to kids, in a way.

“I grew up in a musical family, so I’ve been around music my entire life. But I know people who don’t have that, and I think that bringing that to more people is important. … I like bringing that joy and developing those interests in the kids that I’m singing to,” Cromie said.

Cromie will perform at the Dakota County Fair on Aug. 7 from 5-6 p.m. More information about Cromie and links to hear or purchase her songs are on her website, www.alisoncromie.com.

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