We had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Paskow about her new album, Make A Circle which your whole family will love. Let’s celebrate love, life and connection together:
Everyone needs to love and accept themselves. Tell us why you think this is missing in society.
I think the answer to this question has many layers to it, especially spiritually and emotionally. Many of us forget that we are perfect as we are. I’m not saying we don’t need to work on ourselves, rather that we are perfect in our imperfectness. From my experience in my own personal growth, I couldn’t see that all my imperfections and quirks were beautiful, and that all of it makes me who I am. I love the line from Leonard Cohen: “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” It wasn’t until I was in my 30s and deeply into my spiritual path that I truly could understand the profundity of this line.
I wish people of all ages could let the truth of this settle into their core. It’s very simple and yet at times so difficult for most of us to fully embrace our own being.
Living in a culture that is so focused on the external does not help. The digital age seems to perpetuate the idea of not being enough, not good enough, not pretty enough, just not enough, which makes the concept of loving and accepting ourselves much more challenging.
Why is it so important to teach children about accepting and loving themselves.
As Brené Brown says in her book The Gift of Imperfection, “The better we are at accepting ourselves and others, the more compassionate we become.” If we teach children to first be kind and loving to themselves, this love will inevitably flow out to others. This is the message in my song “Make A Circle.” First feel the love in your own heart and hug yourself, then share that love with your friends.
In today’s 24/7 media world where girls and boys are flooded with messages about how they should look and act, I believe that it is imperative that we teach or really remind our children to look to the guiding force within them as their life compass.
Tell us about your inspiration behind ‘Make A Circle.’
It’s pretty simple, I wanted to make a record that would put a whole lot of love into the world. My intention was to write songs that celebrate love, life and connection to each other and to the earth. I envisioned children and their families dancing, laughing and hugging each other. I also imagined how these songs could cross over to the grownups without kids. I wanted to give people of all ages a gentle reminder to love and accept themselves and to extend that love to all beings on this beautiful planet.
Your music is so fluid. It speaks to all ages, that families can enjoy it together. What is it like to ‘hug’ a whole family with your music?
To hug a family with my music is to make a circle of love around the family. In this circle, everyone is seen and cherished for who they truly are! Everyone feels loved!
Tell us about the power of music.
I’m a children’s music teacher as well as a volunteer in children’s hospitals and schools for children with special needs, so I get to see this power moving through people’s lives daily.
For example, I walked into the hospital room of 5 month old crying at the top of her lungs. I began to sing “Twinkle Twinkle,” and almost immediately she stopped crying, and her blood pressure went down. The nurses and I were in awe of the immediate effect the music had on this little one. It seems so simple, but the healing ability of the music is profound.
Another time, I sang my song “On the Inside” to a girl who had lost all her hair from chemotherapy. I noticed the tears coming from her mother’s eyes as she watched her daughter listen to the song, “On the Inside is the best of me. On the outside isn’t all you’ll see. Let me show you who I really am.” I imagined that her tears were bittersweet, that somehow the words of this song quelled her daughter’s fears of how people would react to her losing her hair.
I love to watch the power of music at work in bringing people of different colors, races, religions, and ages together. It’s pure magic to experience music connecting people through their shared humanity. Music is a great unifier and what is more powerful than that?
Tell us about your charity work.
I began volunteering as a Candy Striper when I was fourteen. My mom signed us both up to give back to our community. I treasure that she introduced me to the concept of Seva, which means a service that is performed without any expectation of result or award for performing it. This began a lifelong dedication to and love of service. I volunteered as a Big Sister in college, worked in a women’s shelter and crisis nursery, and have been sharing music in hospitals for almost 20 years.
It was singing in a children’s hospital here in Los Angeles that awakened my mission to work with children and families in a more extensive way. I volunteer with two beautiful organizations, The Art of Elysium and Musicians on Call in Los Angeles. Something magical happens in those rooms, and It is an honor to participate in sharing the healing power of music with the children and as well as the geriatric patients. I just recently started to sing for kids in an amazing school for children with special needs. It’s hard to describe the kind of joy that I feel when a child who is dependent on a ventilator and can’t move their body or even speak smiles at me. Our souls connect inside of the music. I know they know that I’m there to lift them up and bring them joy. It’s priceless to see their faces light up with the very first note of a song. These kids are beautiful. I go there expecting nothing, but when I walk out I feel full of inspiration and gratitude.
Why is it important to you to connect with your audience?
I make music with the intention to uplift and to heal. Therefore it’s about a shared experience between myself and the listener. I suppose I could describe it as a place where we connect in our shared humanity. Whether the person is 2 or 72 there is a place where we can find a deeper connection, which in turn makes the power of the music even stronger.
Where can our readers buy the album?
Make a Circle will be available on iTunes and Amazon on September 30, 2016