Crossing the age barrier
Children's singer-songwriter Kath Bee must be the saviour of many a long car journey.
Though her hits for kids focus on what interests them – roadkill, dragons under the bed, messy bedrooms, chores, food on your face, disappearing socks, saving the planet, or the intricate psychological dilemma raised by Dad I Wanna Be a Camel – Bee is proud that many adults are fans, too. Grown-ups freely admit that her catchy melodies get stuck in their heads as well.
Bee will perform at the Nelson School of Music next Wednesday and Thursday, backed by bassist Rich Kendrick and drummer Rhys Clarke. Though it's billed as being a special grandparents' show, Bee says everyone is welcome.
"I try to put some adult humour in there as well, to keep the adults interested," she says. "If you talk to adults who do like my stuff, they'll say it's refreshing and doesn't drive them mad."
In 2000, Bee completed the Nelson School of Music Contemporary Performance Course, where she discovered a talent for songwriting.
At the end of 2001, she wrote her first children's song, Christmas Holidays, for a group of kids to perform at their end-of-year school concert.
Since then she's been commissioned to write school songs for six primary schools, has been featured on several primary school CDs, and has written a song for Purple Cake Day, worked for school productions and recorded four CDs.
She's won numerous awards, including the What Now? Children's Video of the Year Award in 2010, also taking first place in the 2007 Pacific Songwriting Contest's open section 2007 with Don't Wanna, about doing chores.
Bee plays school and preschool gigs and at birthday parties, and has held songwriting workshops in the past. She puts her success down to imagining herself in the situations she's singing about.
It's got to do with not treating kids like they're babies, and forming a rapport with them as soon as she can.
Bee is living in Auckland at the moment, co-writing a school production for children of intermediate age, and visiting plenty of schools for gigs. But she still counts Nelson as home – "I think".
"You kind of have to go where the work is, and there's so many good contacts up in Auckland," she says. "I'm trying to broaden my horizons now, and writing's my favourite thing, so that's what I'd eventually like to be doing – just that.
"I do have a lovely fan base [in Nelson], and a lot of the kids I started with years ago are growing up now.
"But I've still got some people who have been coming [to gigs] from the start and are still coming now, which is lovely."
- Kath Bee's Grandparents Rock!, Nelson School of Music, July 11 and 12, 10am. Tickets $10, family of four $30.
- © Fairfax NZ News