A lullaby is a simple expression of the most universal human condition: the bond between parent and child. Through Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project, loving moms and dads work side by side with professional musicians to write and sing personal lullabies for their children, supporting parental health, aiding childhood development, and strengthening the bond between parent and child.
The first Lullaby Project took place at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx in December 2011. Since then, hundreds of lullabies have been written in healthcare and foster care settings, schools, homeless shelters, and correctional facilities in New York City, across the United States, and around the globe.
Hopes & Dreams: The Lullaby Project is a compilation recording of 15 songs written by parents from across New York City, as performed by Fiona Apple, the Brentano String Quartet, Lawrence Brownlee, Rosanne Cash, Joyce DiDonato, Janice Freeman, Rhiannon Giddens, Angélique Kidjo, Patti LuPone, Natalie Merchant, Dianne Reeves, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Pretty Yende, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The album was recently released on the Decca Gold label.
Over the last three years, the artists featured on the Hopes & Dreams album, the songwriters, Carnegie Hall teaching artists, and producers Glen Roven, Ira Yuspeh, and Mitchell Yuspeh all connected with a single collective purpose: to celebrate the families who have shared their personal stories through the project.
Two mothers whose intimate and tender expressions of love are part of Hopes & Dreams reflect on the importance of the Lullaby Project for them and for their children.
Solangie & her daughter Gabriella
Solangie wrote her lullaby “I Can’t Wait to Meet You” while still pregnant with her daughter Gabriella. The song expresses her love and anticipation to meet her little one for the first time, and is performed by Fiona Apple on the album.
I can’t wait to meet you for the first time
I don’t know what I’ll do that day
I’ll cry and I’ll laugh and I’ll kiss you
I will have you, you will have me
The world will be different and new
“Seeing my daughter on the sonogram inspired me to write this song because she is my greatest blessing. Hearing her heart beat on the monitors made me feel more excited to become a mom. I wrote this song because ... I want my daughter to know that my love for her is unconditional. I hope she follows her heart and does all the things I wasn’t able to accomplish.
“I wanted the song to be special to my daughter just like she is special to me. Once my daughter was born, I immediately played the song for her at the hospital. Once we arrived home, every night she would go to sleep to it. Now she claps her hands, snaps her fingers, and slowly dances to my song. It makes my heart extremely happy to see my daughter enjoy the song I wrote for her.
“Being part of the Lullaby Project inspired me to become a better parent. It will always be an important part of my life because many years from now, after I am gone, my child will have this song to remember me and the love I had for her.
“My hope and dream for this song is for it to be successful—a song that is remembered and passed on to all the mothers who are having difficult times, to let them know that everything is going to be OK. I also want for mothers and daughters to have a beautiful connection like my mother and I have, which I hope my daughter and I will continue to have in the future.” —Solangie
Odette & her son Esso
Odette’s lullaby “Esso, Esso,” written in French and Ditammari (a language from northwest Benin), is performed by Grammy Award–winning Beninese singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo on Hopes & Dreams. The song playfully explores a hide-and-seek game with her son Esso.
Esso, Esso, my little child
Tell me where
I may find you
I am in the trees
Come to me, come to me
I am on the moon
Come to me, come to me
I am in the stars
Come to me, come to me
Rest your head
with your mama
“I am a creative mom and can do anything to let my child know I love him. When my son heard his lullaby, his body language changed. Sometimes he sings with me. The Lullaby Project changed me as a parent in every way. It’s like I have more of a connection with my child. My hope is that this lullaby lives on forever. I will keep singing to him and to my grandchildren … I would recommend other families write a song for their children because it is a great project. I did it and it changed me, and can do the same thing for anyone … I am so grateful and proud of myself that I can prove my love to my children and tell them how I care about them.” —Odette
For more on The Lullaby Project, visit carnegiehall.org/lullaby.