Improvising a jam about triceratops is something the Alphabet Rockers did with humor and ease at the June 22 Family Fun Night, hosted by the Santa Clara Central Park Library. Held at the Central Park Pavilion, the event was funded by the library foundation and KeyPoint Credit Union.
“The Alphabet Rockers are all-around awesome,” says Erin Ulrich, the library’s program coordinator of youth services. “Their songs are really catchy. We’ve had them here a couple of times before.”
“Alphabet Rockers provides a high-energy hip hop performance for families,” says Kaitlin McGaw, project founder. “It’s all educational messages and positive lyrics. We talk about nutrition, counting, we celebrate each letter of the alphabet to teach beatboxing and rhythm. And we want to celebrate who each of us is as a person. We believe that every person learns differently and engaging each person, whether it is through music, dance, or imagination, invites each person to be an expert in their own learning.”
According to McGaw, Alphabet Rockers’ performances contain elements of hip hop pedagogy and hip hop theater. Tommy Shepherd Jr. is one of a few people McGaw has composed music with. At Harvard University, McGaw studied Afro-American Studies and finds inspiration from what she learned in school.
“I studied African-American literary tradition and that encompasses our earliest poems, novels, and stories that are part of American culture today,” she says. “As a songwriter, I reflect on the world we are seeing today. The world we see today is through the work of people who have come before us. So the stories that were told in the 1800s affected the way people saw the world in the 1920s during the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance in turn gave way to the next artists and so forth. I believe we’re contributing to a narrative for our country as well through our music.”