Rockin' on with the Kids

Preschool fave Laurie Berkner goes solo


She remains at the top of the children’s entertainment scene. Acclaimed as the “The Adele of the preschool crowd” or the “Queen of kindie rock,” Laurie Berkner is an industry unto herself. The first recording artist to perform in music videos on Nick Jr., her original songs, music videos, books, and three original off-Broadway musicals have made her ubiquitous in American households.

And her outpouring of music continued throughout the pandemic. Berkner was a source of stability and much needed entertainment — in her comforting way — for her young audience through virtual concerts. Daily during the first months of pandemic lockdown — then monthly, which still continue — Berkner reached families struggling to cope in a world turned upside down.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” she says. “Families started watching. So many kids were not in school and not getting music time. It was very intimate and a way to get us through the pandemic. The comments I received were so special. Families would tell me: ‘We see you in our homes, now we want to see you in person.’”

That moment has arrived again — to the delight both Berkner and her fans. She performs a solo concert — only her second show post-pandemic on Long Island — at The Space in Westbury on April 30.

Billed as a “Greatest Hits” concert, it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the release of her second album “Buzz Buzz.”

“Many of my fans are disabled and immuno-comprised,” she adds. “So it took a while to be able to get back to doing live shows safely. It feels so good to be moving around again in-person.”

That’s a Laurie Berkner concert. She wants her young fans in the groove with her throughout the duration of the show’s 75 minutes. “I squeeze every ounce of energy I can out of these kids,” she says.

She’ll perform all the beloved tunes like “Bumblebee (Buzz Buzz)” and “Pig On Her Head,” along with such well-loved hits as “Victor Vito,” “We Are the Dinosaurs,” “Rocketship Run,” and “The Goldfish (Let’s Go Swimming).” And more recent fan favorites including“Superhero,” “Waiting for the Elevator,” and “Chipmunk at the Gas Pump.”

From the get-go, her audience is fully in sync.“I draw everyone in — running, dancing, jumping. Almost every song choice has something the kids can do movement-wise. They can jump, spin, blast off. This is definitely not a ‘sit down and watch me’ show.”

Berkner, based in New York City with her band, is acclaimed as the star of children’s music and the power behind the progressive “kindie rock” movement — less saccharine, more rocking music that is not dumbed down for children. What sets her apart? Her music speaks to kids without talking down to them, charming youngsters without boring grown-ups. 

But it wasn’t simply talent that helped create an entire genre and skyrocketed Berkner to the top of the kids’ music scene. It was an ability to gain parents’ enthusiasm for the songs as well.

“When I’m writing a song, I’m thinking about whether the kids will like it and whether I’m going to connect to them through it,” Berkner said. “I’m also thinking about whether I want to sing it over and over again, so I guess that’s the part that connects with adults. I guess I’m channeling my inner child.”

The former preschool music teacher by day and indie rocker by night, Berkner started selling music out of her living room on her own label, Two Tomatoes Records. Now, the veritable dynamo is seemingly everywhere. In addition to her 15 bestselling, award-winning albums, her off-Broadway musicals, Berkner helped develop the short-form animated musical preschool series “Sing It, Laurie!” on Sprout TV. She has created two Laurie Berkner’s Song and Story Kitchen series with Audible Studios, who released them as 10-chapter audio books through the Audible Originals brand. And, of course, they’ll be more to come.

“These projects are all great fun to work on,” she says.

But the best part of it all, she says, is the ongoing connection with families. “I’m creating a memory that will stay with them and become part of their life. I have new parents who heard my songs when they were little and now bring their kids to see me. That feels really special.”

Finally, Berkner reminds her fans (who really don’t need a reminder): “Don’t forget bring your dancing shoes and an animal for your head!”