Elizabeth Mitchell Sings On The Sunny Side If you have a little one at home, there's a good chance you've heard the joyful voice of Elizabeth Mitchell. Mitchell has released some of the most uplifting kids music out there, and so it's appropriate that her new record is called Sunny Day.

Elizabeth Mitchell Sings On The Sunny Side

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(Soundbite of song, "Who's My Pretty Baby")

Ms. ELIZABETH MITCHELL (Singer): (Singing) Who's my pretty baby, who's my pretty little baby. You're my, my pretty little baby, hey, hey, pretty baby.

GUY RAZ, host:

If you have a little one at home, there's a good chance you've heard the joyful voice of Elizabeth Mitchell. Apparently, as I learned recently, when you combine the words indie rock and kid, you get kindie rock. And Elizabeth Mitchell is, without question, a kindie rock star.

Together with her husband, Daniel Littleton, and their daughter, Storey, Mitchell has released some of the most uplifting kids' music out there. So it's probably appropriate that her new record's called "Sunny Day." Here's a track off it. It's called "Keep on the Sunny Side."

(Soundbite of song, "Keep on the Sunny Side")

Ms. MITCHELL: (Singing) Classic storm will in time pass away. Sun again will shine bright and clear. Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side...

RAZ: And Elizabeth Mitchell joins me with her guitar from Woodstock in New York. Welcome to the program.

Ms. MITCHELL: Thank you so much for having us, Guy.

RAZ: Tell me about this new record. Is there an idea or a feeling or a sensibility that you wanted to capture?

Ms. MITCHELL: Well, you know, I think it was just a natural extension of the last few years of our lives. Our daughter, Storey, was about five when the last record, "You are My Little Bird," came out. And now she's 9 years old. And, you know, being a parent, it's a lot like the process of being an artist. There's a lot of letting go so that growth can happen. So, the new record, I think, reflects that.

RAZ: And as you mentioned, Storey is now 9. She sang on your last record when she was 5. And this time around, she wrote two songs on this record, including this one that I want to play for a moment.

(Soundbite of song, "Sunny Day")

Ms. MITCHELL and STOREY: (Singing) The sun comes up, the sun comes up. The flowers bloom, the flowers bloom. The rain comes down, the rain comes down. The flowers grow, the flowers grow. People dancing everywhere...

RAZ: That's "Sunny Day" sung by Elizabeth Mitchell and her daughter Storey, who I believe is also playing the harmonica there, right?

Ms. MITCHELL: That's right. Yeah, she's been playing harmonica for many years. It's a great instrument for children to learn as a first instrument because it's really just about the breadth and about phrasing and expressing yourself that way. You know, if you're playing in the right key, you can't hit a wrong note.

(Soundbite of song, "Sunny Day")

RAZ: It's so cool to hear her voice. Anyone who's heard your previous record, anybody who's a fan of your music, knows her voice from your previous record, as I do, because I have a little one at home as well. And it's just amazing to hear her develop as a singer.

Ms. MITCHELL: Yeah. You know, I think that children especially love to hear the sound of other children's voices. I love putting the sound of children on my records because I think it's a really magic, magic sound, the sound of a child's voice. It's so pure and fleeting and always entirely unique to themselves.

RAZ: You are on tour with the whole family - with your husband and with Story. Tell me a little bit more about that lifestyle. I mean, how do you sort of balance trying to be a normal family and also a family of performing musicians?

Ms. MITCHELL: Well, I'm learning a lot about fourth grade math this year...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. MITCHELL: ...which is more challenging than I remember it when I was in fourth grade. So there's that world wearing a lot of hats. You know, we're all really asking a lot of each other and growing together and learning about this alternative lifestyle of being a family on the road.

But it's great. You know, it's really incredible for Storey to see the country and to meet new friends all around. And we really enjoy it.

RAZ: The thing I love about a lot of your music is that it's really hard to listen to passively. You almost have to sing along.

(Soundbite of song, "Shoo Lie Loo")

Ms. MITCHELL: (Singing) Just from the kitchen, shoo lie loo, with a handful of biscuits, shoo lie lo. Oh, Miss Story, shoo lie loo, fly away over yonder, shoo lie loo.

RAZ: This is an old song. It's called "Shoo Lie Loo." Do you imagine kids, like, singing along with you as you're recording in the studio?

Ms. MITCHELL: Well, I imagine it and I often experience it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

RAZ: When you perform live.

Ms. MITCHELL: Yeah, when we perform live, when we're recording. That recording, I loved, because I've got so many different kids in the recording. So as a listener you can hear all the different qualities of their voices, all the different sort of strange inflections that they bring. You think, well, every child's voice really is so uniquely different.

RAZ: My guest is Elizabeth Mitchell. She's best known for her children's music. Her new record is called "Sunny Day."

What is it like going on tour and performing primarily for kids? I mean, do they kind of, I don't know, get nervous when they meet you because you're kind of, you know, you're pretty famous.

Ms. MITCHELL: Oftentimes, parents will bring their children, maybe a 1-year-old, and say, this is her first concert. And then the child will fall asleep because they're used to falling asleep to my albums. I really enjoy performing with children. You know, you have to have your eyes wide open. You've got to be connecting with them because otherwise there's really no point.

You know, they know if you mean it. They know if you're telling them the truth. They know if you're feeling it. And they're looking for the love and the joy and the inspiration from you in that moment. And, you know, you just create it together.

RAZ: There's a really beautiful track on the record. It's sung half in English and half in Japanese and it's called "Under the Big Chestnut Tree."

(Soundbite of song, "Under the Big Chestnut Tree")

Ms. MITCHELL: (Singing in Japanese)

RAZ: Now, Elizabeth Mitchell, how did you come across this song? What's the story behind it?

Ms. MITCHELL: Two years ago, my family took a trip to Japan, actually. We went on tour with our band, Aida, and we were getting ready for the tour and trying to learn some Japanese, you know, so that when we were over there, we'd be able to make some kind of connections. A friend came over and she taught us this song, because what better way to learn language than through songs? For me, I love to do it that way.

And then while we were over there, we were writing on one of our many rides on the Shinkansen, on the bullet train. Storey and I actually saw some little girls about her age singing a song and doing the little dance that goes along with it. And we, you know, suddenly didn't feel so far from home. We could make a connection with them that way.

RAZ: Your husband and collaborator, Daniel Littleton, is actually in the studio with you. You guys have agreed to perform a track off this record, "Lovely Day." But before you do that, I better say goodbye and thank you so much and good luck on the tour.

Ms. MITCHELL: Thank you so much, Guy. Thanks for having us today.

(Soundbite of song, "Lovely Day")

Ms. MITCHELL: (Singing) When the day that lies ahead of me, it seems impossible to face. But someone else instead of me always seems to know the way. Then I look at you and the world's all right with me. Oh, just one look at you, and I know it's gonna be a lovely day, a lovely day.

RAZ: That's Elizabeth Mitchell and her husband and collaborator Daniel Littleton singing "Lovely Day." Elizabeth Mitchell's new record is called "Sunny Day." To hear a few tracks off it, visit our website, nprmusic.org.

(Soundbite of song, "Lovely Day")

Ms. MITCHELL: (Singing) Lovely day, lovely day, lovely day. Lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day. Lovely day, lovely day, lovely day.

RAZ: And for Saturday, that's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. You can find our podcast, the best of weekends and ALL THINGS CONSIDERED at npr.org/weekendatc. We're back tomorrow. Until then, thanks for listening and have a great night.

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