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Cris & Lou: Local children's music project promotes education, well-being and growth

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This article was published in the Parent's Express magazine (May edition) regarding the Cris and Lou Children's Music Project. We are looking continue our awareness through several media channels including online.

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Children's music is about more than just selling CDs for Philadelphia musicians Cris Valkyria and Lou Paglione; it's about educating children, supporting social service organizations and expanding horizons for young musicians.

The duo entered the children's music scene last year with their own style of pop-rock that not only entertains kids but also teaches them virtuous behaviors. Composed for audiences between ages 1 and 11, songs from Chris and Lou educate children about topics that range from picking up toys to brushing teeth.

The project began when Cris' son was 2 years old and she was looking for potty training tools. She was disappointed with what she found on the market and realized the need for music to support her efforts.

"I had a great need for songs to facilitate the behaviors that I needed in the home," Cris said.

Cris had played with Lou in the band Cris Valkyria and the Opponents for about a year, entertaining adult audiences, before she approached him about working with her on music for children. Lou had written songs for much of his life, but he had never written music for children before. Together, they began composing a potty training song and then added other songs to help facilitate child rearing at home.

Less than a year later, in December, they released their first album of children's music. Along with their songs, they began outreach efforts to benefit children in all areas of life - from physical and mental health to social welfare.

Cris and Lou promote the well-being of children through initiatives like WXPN Musicians on Call, which brings therapeutic entertainment to patients at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, St. Christopher's Hospital for Children and other medical centers. For both musicians, being able to bring smiles to the children's faces or make a difference in their lives, even if it's just for five minutes, is a great reward.

The duo also donates a portion of the proceeds from the sale of their CDs to the Philadelphia Children's Alliance, an organization that promotes justice and healing for child victims of sexual abuse.

"We've always been involved in charities in the past, so why not do it on a musical level?" Lou said.

Although Cris and Lou began their project in the studio, they recently started performing live at venues in New Jersey and the Greater Philadelphia area. The team is gearing up to take the stage at World Café Live on May 7, as part of the Peanut Butter and Jams series, to celebrate the release of their CD.

Unlike their studio work, their live shows incorporate the fast-paced entertainment and props needed to keep the attention of children through a 45-minute performance. Sometimes the shows even include local children.

Outside of school performances, kids don't have many opportunities for onstage experience, explained Cris. So Cris and Lou have opened up some of their performances to allow young musicians to perform on stage with them. After the duo invites young musicians to perform with them, the children are given the songs to learn and practice on their own. They then rehearse with the duo in the days leading up to the performance to get accustomed to the stage. For a child who might be just one part of a band of 30 kids performing in a holiday concert at school, appearing with Cris and Lou gives them a unique opportunity to shine.

To hear samples of their music, find out when Cris and Lou will be performing in your area or for more information, visit www.crisandlou.com.