Edition #31 – Kaitlin McGaw & Tommy Soulati Shepherd answer 7 questions

by | Oct 12, 2022

1. Why are you a musician?

Music is like a soundtrack to every moment in life. We get to make choices about the sounds, words, and vibe that are at the center of a family’s life. Any time we get played, or get to perform – it’s an honor.

We choose to do this as our life’s work – and listeners choose US as their soundtrack, trusting us with their time and space.

2. Who are your musical inspirations?

Music itself – every genre, sound, bit, rhythm, gesture, vocalization – every part of it informs us in how we move, create and connect.

And we’re not limited by the boxes of “music” – we’ll get inspired by sounds of the neighborhood, laughter and even silence. Our life is a canvas of sound, sending out signals to tell our stories.

3. What is your practice routine?

Our process is rooted in questions, reflections and messages from our community. When our community talks about issues we are facing, we listen – we lean in – and we invite a cycle of reflection that includes all the members of our collective.

For example, in the height of the pandemic, we found the question was “when do we feel powerful?” because so many of us were holding feelings of powerlessness. From this question arose dialogue, poetry, movement, vocal improvisation and musical clues that informed our collective creativity. It’s a cycle for us – we plant seeds, nourish them, and they create more seeds for us to create with – much like a hip hop cypher.

4. Why did you make this album?

The Movement
By The Alphabet Rockers

THE MOVEMENT is a soundtrack for a reimagined world of belonging and justice. We created this 13-song album with the children in our collective, and really want to spark listeners to connect their heads and hearts as we find unity in community.

The songwriters reflect on real moments from our lives, and the youth ask the world to listen: “It’s our turn to speak up and be heard. Because our voices matter.”

THE MOVEMENT is written for the whole family to understand their power, break biases, disrupt systems of oppression, and find community care.

5. What were the biggest obstacles in making this music?

Everything is slower to create, shape and finalize in the pandemic. And while it is an obstacle, it’s also an opportunity to find and develop more patience to address each challenge we encounter with grace and understanding.

We are intentionally slowing down and spending more time in circle, taking care of one another as we create, shape and present our work with the world as an intergenerational group.

6. Who is featured on the album?

Alphabet Rockers are really proud of the impact our young stars have on this album: Kali de Jesus, Maya Fleming and Tommy Shepherd III. They wrote, recorded and contributed to this album throughout their 7th-8th grade school years. We also collaborated with children’s music artists as writers/performers Fyütch (“Juneteenth”) and Mista Cookie Jar (“The Word is Love”), and Genevieve Goings as writer (“Get You A Friend”). “Slide” features horn arrangements/performances from Jazz Mafia’s Adam Theis.

7. Where may we find you online?