Here's an article about me and the Grammy nominated CD, "All About Bullies...Big and Small" published 2/12/12 in the Register: 

http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2012/02/12/entertainment/arts/doc4f36b156c9f87740996734.txt?viewmode=fullstory

On Grammy Awards night, Les Julian of Woodbridge has a 'Donkey' in the race 

Published: Sunday, February 12, 2012

By Donna Doherty, Register Arts Editor
 

WOODBRIDGE — Tonight in Los Angeles the music industry hands out its highest award, the Grammy, and there will be several local musicians glued to the screen, among them singer/songwriter Les Julian.


His song “Donkey in a Ditch,” which he co-wrote with longtime friend Bill Pere of Mystic, was selected by producer Steve Pullara to be on a compilation CD “All About Bullies ... Big and Small,” that addresses the very hot topic of bullying. It’s nominated for Best Children’s Album.

Better still, for Julian, whose songs are both fun and educational, proceeds from the CD go to The National Bullying Prevention Center, PACERKidsAgainstBullying.org.

The disc, which has a melange of music styles from folk to reggae, spoken word, jazz, blues and rock, has a who’s who of the biggies of children’s music, and then some, among the artists.

“One of the reasons this CD became nominated, I’m sure, is because of the clout of the people on the CD,” Julian says.

The mix of musical styles on the nominated CD, which is common in children’s music, was also what attracted Julian to the field. “You can combine any style of music you want with any other style, and children are OK with it. That was appealing to me. That worked for me. ...,” he says, as long as there’s a connection.

“When Bill and I wrote ‘Donkey in a Ditch,’ we didn’t write it to win a Grammy,” says Julian, 59, relaxing over a cup of tea outside his basement home studio. “We were just trying to write something with soul and hope it connects,” he says of the song which was first released on his 1995 CD, “Color Outside the Lines.”

Both the song and the CD were heralded. Parents magazine called it “the best children’s song ever about a basic dilemma ...” and the CD received the highly coveted Parents’ Choice Gold Award and a Notable Recording for Children endorsement from the American Library Association. From there, he was on his way to a successful career in children’s entertainment, performing all over New England and the East Coast. See www.lesjulian.com.

“Donkey in a Ditch,” which has a folksy kind of “Puff the Magic Dragon” sound to it, was inspired by a TV interview Julian saw where the interviewee was being grilled, and he threw the donkey in a ditch story at the journalist:

A donkey falls into a ditch. Instead of helping him get out, various animals belittle him and throw stones at him. The pile of stones grows high enough for the donkey to use to climb out of the ditch. He then sees a sheep in a similar situation, and has to decide how he’ll act after such treatment.

“I found a beautiful nugget. I could use it,” Julian says.

The Grammy road started with a phone call from entertainer/producer Dave Kinnoin, a friend who used to work with the Disney Children’s Network.

“He asked, ‘Do you have anything that would be appropriate to the bullying theme?’ I said, ‘Yes I do.’ I’ve pitched to other projects before, and most of the time it’s rejection. If something sticks, you’re lucky,” says Julian.

Pullara produced the album for his Cool Beans Music with three other producers from East Coast Recording Co. They’ll be the ones who’ll go to the podium should the CD win.

“Steve loved this song, and thought it would fit into the CD’s compilation of spoken word and songs ... ,” says Julian.

Even if it wins, there won’t be any remuneration for the songwriter, but it doesn’t matter to him. He and Pere waived any money and licensed the song to the producers to use, knowing its proceeds would be going to a great cause.

“If the song gets out ... well, I believed in this song as soon as it was written,” says Julian, acknowledging that, and winning the Grammy, would be the best reward.

“I feel very honored and somewhat indebted to them that they would give me this opportunity. Steve, like most artists, and I say this in the best sense of the word, is an opportunist. He felt he had something to say about bullying. He plays schools. He’s very much tuned into the storytelling process.

“He knows that if you feel strongly about these topical issues, you should contribute to them, but he was smart enough to know he had to go outside for help.

“You’re looking at some very good writers on this CD. He had the right idea of leading a team toward this goal.”

The beauty of the project is its networking capacity. The National Academy of Recording Artists and Sciences does not give out its member list, so campaigning for Grammy votes isn’t that easy. A project like this with so many different NARAS artists involved, has a built-in network that can cast for votes.

A Grammy would be the icing on the cake of Julian’s eclectic career, which started with his first gig in the Quinnipiac University Rathskeller in 1972 when he was a student there. He had dabbled in piano and sax, but it’s where he started a love affair with the guitar, which changed his life. He’s since added the mandolin and some percussion to his one-man band.

After performing college gigs and clubs and a stint at Griffin Hospital from 1977 to 1985, where he started doing music therapy, he had an epiphany and “jumped off the cliff” to devote full time to music, gravitating quickly to children’s music.

The reception of his self-produced first album (he has five) on his Jump Right Over the Moon Music label gave him comfort that he’d made the right choice.

“I feel very grateful I’ve been able to do what I chose to do and like to do. If you can find something you love to do and it makes a contribution, that’s what you should be doing.”


WOODBRIDGE — What do Woodbridge resident Les Julian and, let’s say, country singer Kelly Clarkson have in common? Not much, maybe, but both are in the pool for a Grammy Award.

Les Julian, who is known locally for his upbeat, often thoughtful, but always entertaining performances, contributed to a CD that was nominated as one of the finalists for the recording industry’s most prestigious award.

The CD “All About Bullies … Big and Small” is a fund-raiser for the National Bullying Prevention Center. Thirty artists donated their work toward this endeavor. Some of the artists are well known, such as Barry Louis Polisar and Steve Van Zandt. “They make me look good,” Julian said, and he is honored to be part of the project.All the songs revolve around different aspects of the phenomenon of bullying. “It suggests a lot of different choices of what to do” when children encounter bullying in their lives, he said. He hopes the music will contribute to a conversation that is already taking place in many schools.If kids have the vocabulary and the behavioral choices, they know they can walk away from dicey situations. They know they can tell an adult. 

Julian collaborated with Connecticut singer-songwriter Bill Pere on the song “Donkey in a Ditch.” It tells the story of a donkey who finds himself in a ditch and can’t get out. He calls to animals passing by for help, but they just throw stones into the ditch. Eventually it’s the stones that allow him to climb out. But that is not the end of the story. Because then he hears a sheep call for help …

“Donkey in a Ditch may be the best children’s song ever about a basic dilemma: Should we help our fellow creatures even if they do nothing to help us?” wrote Parents magazine at the time.

Julian and Pere wrote the lyrics and the music together for their own repertoire. That was back in 1995. But when a friend called Julian from California to ask whether he would be willing to contribute to the bullying project, the song was the perfect fit.

This is not the first time Julian’s work was singled out on a national level. An earlier CD, “Color Outside the Lines,” won a Parents’ Choice Gold Award and was named by the American Library Association as a Notable Recording for Children.

Julian performs mostly around Connecticut. He has played in Woodbridge at the First Church and at the library, in Bethany at the Community School, Bethany Library, and Bethany Parks and Rec, and at Orange Congregational Church and for the Orange Cub Scouts. He is best known for his children’s songs, but he enjoys adult music just as much.

All About Bullies is among the five finalists in the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences children’s music category. Julian said it’s more of a niche category for the academy. Unlike awards for Kelly Clarkson and the other “big acts,” the choice of children’s artist is not televised.

Julian is going to stay in Connecticut Feb. 12, the night of the Grammys, and wait for a phone call to find out whether the anti-bullies came out on top.

GRAND PRIZE WINNER IN THE 9th ANNUAL GREAT AMERICAN SONG FESTIVAL!

I'm proud to annouce that MIGHTY JACKIE, THE STRIKEOUT QUEEN has taken the top prize-that's over every other entry in all the other music styles from Rap to Rock to Folk to Country to Jazz to Whatever in the international song competition, the GREAT AMERICAN SONG FESTIVAL! Co-written with Marla Lewis, it's a TRUE story about Jackie Mitchell, a seventeen year old GIRL who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gerrig in a 1931 exhibition game. Available now on my new NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PARENTING PUBLICATIONS GOLD AWARD winning CD, GOOD THINGS HAPPEN! AND Marla has it currently on her amazing, PARENTS' CHOICE GOLD winning CD, I Love To Talk to Plants available at www.marlalewis.com.

BEST CHILDREN'S SONG EVER?

His song Donkey in a Ditch co-written with Bill Pere was reviewed by Parents Magazine saying, Les' song "Donkey in a Ditch may be the best children's song ever about a basic dilemma: Should we help our fellow creatures even if they do nothing to help us? When it comes to kid's music, Les is more."

He’s gone from bars and clubs to touring elementary schools



By Stephanie O’ Connell
 

Record-Journal staff 

For years, Les Julian played his original material to crowds at Meriden bars and clubs, and even cut a CD in the late 1980s.

Now, Julian plays to a much different crowd as he buttons up his signature color-splashed shirts and jumps around the stage at elemen­tary schools, libraries and senior homes. As an award-winning singer- songwriter, Julian has tailored his act for young children and senior citizens. His latest release, “Good Things Happen,” received the National Parenting Publications Awards’ top honor.

Julian first strapped on his guitar and hit the stage at Jacoby’s in Meriden . Audiences first seemed to no tice Julian’s knack for catchy kid’s tunes, telling the singer that his rock-infused lyrics sounded more like a children’s song. “When people started to tell me that my songs sounded like they were for children, I was shocked,” said Julian, who is originally from Bristol . “I wasn’t really thinking along those lines but I somehow grew into it. I have always enjoyed children so there was an attraction and the songs are just so fun and fresh and different from what I was creating for adults. It really grew on me.”

In 1995, Julian released his first children’s CD, “Color Outside the Lines,” and traveled to different schools, including Hanover in Meriden , to rave reviews. “Color Outside the Lines” received accolades from the American Library Recordings for Children and the Parent’s Choice Gold Award. “I took that first CD and performed for some kids and I really enjoyed it,” Julian said. “All of a sudden the CD won awards and that kind of support and encouragement led me to think that maybe I really did have something here.”

Now being able to promote himself as an award-winning songwriter, Julian took his songs on the road touring the Carolinas, Tennessee and schools up and down New England. Riding on the sensation of his first release, Julian’s follow-ups have had similar success. He has been touring with his latest release, “Good Things Happen” with stops in Manchester and at the Connecticut Baptist Home in 
Meriden.


“Each of the 14 songs in this highly entertaining and exception ally produced album is a mini-story of positive values, surprising heroes and feel-good music,” NAPPA Judge John Wood said. “Julian’s strong clear baritone voice is a standout — a beacon sending out upbeat mes sages in these superbly clever songs. I can’t wait to hear more from him.” To open his show, Julian straps on his mandolin and belts out “Good Things Happen but You Must Show Up,” the first track on his album. “The song features all of these wonderful heroes,” Julian said. “I mention Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Martin Luther King and Gandhi. It is meant to be an encouraging song. I think that the children can relate to them.”

Julian gets the crowd rumbling with “Uncle Louie’s Teeth,” a tale of his uncle who always took his teeth out. Another favorite is Julian’s remake of the catchy “Dayo” in which he talks about the troubles he faces trying to play hooky and tricking his mother into letting him stay home from school. “That song is a great lesson in honesty,” Julian said.

“I try to focus on my own experiences and being honest with the kids, I believe, is the best way that I can share with them. I am trying to connect with these children through my music without preaching. I would rather tell them a story and let them draw their own conclusions and have fun. Combining both gives them the best of both worlds.”