I'm Awesome! Said the Possum
I'm Awesome!, Rachel Nelson's 2004 CD, is a blend of songs and stories for young listeners. With enough repetition and catchy tunes to grab younger ears and enough substance to hold the interest of older children, this CD will delight kids of any age. Rachel Nelson and friends mix fiddle, banjo, washtub bass, and guitar with mandolin, stand-up bass and hand drums to keep the musical combos interesting. 'I've tried to include many different sound combinations for young ears on this CD,' Nelson said. 'We have a capella singing, old-time fiddle and banjo, bluesey swing numbers, and some wonderful hand percussion work by Kari Kjome. In I'm Awesome!, Nelson blends her original songs, including 'Tall Tale,' 'The Possum Song,' 'Whoa Back,' and 'Julia Butterfly,' with traditional folk songs like 'Walkin' Boss' and 'The Cat Came Back.' Her rollicking stringband version of 'I'm My Own Grandma' will resonate with older listeners who remember the original Latham/Jaffe hit. Most exciting for Nelson are the stories she includes with the music, just as she does in live performance. I'm Awesome! Features three stories, two written by Nelson and accompanied by her fiddle. The third is the true story of Julia Butterfly Hill, told with tasteful side effects by Tom Herbers. 'My hope is that this CD will inspire young listeners to tell their own stories and write their own songs,' says Nelson. A children's chorus appears on three numbers, inviting listeners to sing along. And one live concert cut, 'The Cat Came Back,' captures the energy of Nelson's live performances. These BardLive! Shows combine songs, stories, and poems together for a theatrical mix. 'All three of these art forms were traditionally oral, shared by ear through live performance. So even though I'm writing original songs, stories and poems now, I feel that I am continuing the very old bardic tradition of live performance.' A children's CD was a natural step for an artist who has done school residencies and performances for twenty years. Nelson specializes in songwriting residencies, which she finds are an inviting way to teach writing skills. 'When we record the students' songs-in-progress, they listen to playback, and voila-they are revising! They revise because they care about their work. They hear it; they own it. It's theirs.'