Bullies get attention but usually for the wrong reasons. That wasn’t the case at the 2012 Grammy Awards, when the CD “All About Bullies. . . Big and Small!” won the statuette for Best Children’s Album. The winning CD has a Minnesota connection as all proceeds from its sale go to PACER Center’s National Center for Bullying Prevention, PACER Kids Against Bullying. Learn more about the center at www.pacerkidsagainstbullying.org
Steve Pullara of Philadelphia-based Cool Beans Music is one of the album’s producers. He gives credit to First Lady Michelle Obama and her national focus on anti-bullying programs. “We were happy to articulate our country’s initiative, though the First Lady’s goals of ‘Bully Awareness and Bully Prevention’ through the recording arts on a massive scale.” The producers appreciate Mrs. Obama’s efforts to put a spotlight on bullying through attention to the album.
Awareness of the problems of bullying has grown in recent years. Bullying is especially problematic for children with disabilities. More than 160,000 children miss school every day out of fear of attack or intimidation by other students. Children who are bullied are more likely to develop depression and anxiety disorders that do not disappear at the end of the school year. The effects of bullying can last a lifetime. In some cases, bullying can even lead to suicide.
Pullara also gave PACER Center a shout-out during the Grammys awards ceremony and again to the throng of international reporters gathered for the event. “This is incredible!” said Pullara as he accepted the Grammy on behalf of more than 20 artists who participated in the project.
“We created this out of love. We have a lot of people here who all volunteered their time and all of the money is going to PACERKidsAgainstBullying.org.”
“I have worked on some excellent CDs,” said Pullara, who wrote 18 of the tracks. “But this one here is the zenith. Not bragging, it just flows so well. The poems and songs are about things we’ve all been through.”
“The CD creatively speaks to all children through music and poetry,” said Julie Hertzog, director of PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. “It offers a beautiful way to educate children about the universal theme of treating one another with kindness.”
“We did this to bring attention to bullying and here we are. It’s unbelievable,” said producer Gloria Domina. “It really sends a message and the message is not just for kids.” “All About Bullies . . . Big and Small!” topped a field of five nominees. The other children’s albums were “Are We There Yet?” by the Papa Hugs Band; “Fitness Rock & Roll” by Miss Amy; “Gulf Alive” by The Banana Plant; and “I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow” by various artists, Red Beet Records.
The album’s website states, “Bullying can happen to anyone, but together we can change that by bringing awareness to the community. We can all be instrumental in helping create a safe school environment and community for our children. These artists understand the emotions connected to bullying. Enjoy listening to their helpful hints and reflections of life’s lessons in this amazing collection. ‘All About Bullies . . . Big and Small’ is designed to put an interesting and heartfelt twist on the subject that can be discussed at the dinner table, on the playground, and in school. Always keep in mind, we have another tomorrow and that bullying shouldn’t be a part of childhood.”
Tracks from the album can be sampled at www.allboutbulliesbigandsmall.com
The winning album was produced by Pullara, Jim Cravero, Gloria Domina, Kevin Mackie and Patrick Robinson. It was the first Grammy Award for the group, which was also nominated in 2011 for “Healthy Food for Thought: Good Enough to Eat.”
The winning album featured 37 stories, poems and songs by a diverse list of national and local artists. The musicians, performers and poets featured on the CD include Steve Van Zandt, Eric Bazilian, Heidi Swedberg, Peter Alsop, Blue October, May Pang, Vini “Maddog” Lopez, Keith Grimwood, Barry Louis Polisar, Frances England, Steve Pullara and His Cool Beans Band, Debbie and Friends, Sugar Free Allstars & Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Eric Ode, The Battersby Duo, Oran Etkin, Judy Pancoast, Dave Kinnoin, Helen Bruner & Terry Jones of Philerzy, John Flynn, Giorgio Aquilani, Jonathan Sprout, Marla Lewis, Pat Robinson, Ken Cowle, Les Julian, Bill Pere, Miss Amy, Bob Miles, Whitney Peyton with Only Human, Grover Silcox, Debbi Calton, Jim Cravero, Cyndy Drue, Skip Denenberg and Paula Lizzi.
Blue October’s topical uplifting song about growing up entitled “Jump Rope” leads the all-star line-up. The selections weave a story in a unique mix of stories and songs at a playground everyone has played.
Listeners will be quick to notice that the recording has one interesting twist. Each child finds a way to act differently or to accept other children for who they are. It teaches with humor without being preachy. Funny tales and tunes about team work, bus rides, multiculturalism, diversity, new friends, being too tall or too small abound.
PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center provides creative and interactive resources that are designed to benefit all students, including students with disabilities. It offers educators, students, families, and individuals the tools they need to address bullying in schools, recreational programs, or community organizations. FFI: 952-838-9000, www.PACER.org/bullying