Jazz-pop songwriter Alison Faith Levy— known for keyboard skills and smooth vocal chops — is a staple in San Francisco’s performing arts circuit, regularly releasing songs that fans of all ages enjoy.
Her latest release, You Are Magic, is perhaps the most meaningful yet, inspired by a turning point in her life, and a desire to rase awareness around the sometimes-difficult, but always important, topics of spirituality and ethics. The album still offers her signature blend of “sophisticated pop for little ears.” But underneath the upbeat tempo is a reflective intention, as listeners are called to contemplate community and purpose: Who are we, and why are we here? How do we connect with others?
For non-religious parents like me, who don’t ascribe to a particular faith, these are complex, and important questions.
We recently caught up with Alison to talk about the record and what’s next.
Rockmommy: Hi Alison! For those of you not familiar with your music, how would you describe your sound?
Alison Faith Levy: My sound is sophisticated pop for little ears, steeped in the music of the ‘60s and ‘70s. I love that classic period of singer-songwriters like Elton John, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, and Carole King, and bands like the Beatles, The Kinks, Crosby, Stills & Nash, and The Zombies. That time period is my sweet spot and you can definitely hear it in my songs.
Rockmommy: This album is really timely for parents like me. We’re not raising kids with any particular religion, and I’m struggling with how to teach my kids about some of the good stuff (values like compassion and empathy). Did you make this record with parents and kids like mine in mind?
Alison Faith Levy: Absolutely! You are my target audience! One thing I have loved and been inspired by, throughout my recent experience as a Jewish educator, is that many of the preschool families I work with come from very diverse backgrounds but can still really connect with the values and ideas that are addressed in Jewish learning environments. My goal with this album was to take those core values and ideas and make them accessible to all, regardless of your faith background. There is no specific “Jewish-ness” about attributes like empathy, compassion, self-expression, caring for the earth, gratitude, and creativity — it’s all there to be shared!
Rockmommy: What is the main message you hope to impart? What do you hope kids can glean from these songs?
Alison Faith Levy: First of all, I want to honor that kids have a natural spirituality and ask really big questions. My goal is to help build and develop their heart muscle – the place where they ponder deep thoughts, create their own imaginary worlds, connect with other people, and learn how to engage with the wider world in an authentic way. Everyone is special, but what makes us special is the way our own uniqueness connects with, and reflects in, others.
Rockmommy: Is there a particular age group you’re hoping your message resonates with?
Alison Faith Levy: I would say the preschool to early elementary ages would be the most receptive, and also their parents! This album is designed for the whole family — the musical references will be fun and recognizable to the adults, and the lyrics will (hopefully) be inspiring for the children.
Rockmommy: Who are your musical inspirations?
Alison Faith Levy: See question #1! I’m also currently inspired by so many of my Kindie and Jewish music peers. There are folks out there doing amazing work, especially strong women like Joanie Leeds, Ellen Allard, Lucy Kalantari, Nefesh Mountain, and Chava Mirel.
Rockmommy: What’s your hope for the near future, amid all of the craziness in our world?
Alison Faith Levy: Wow. Well, I would just hope that reason, truth, science, and empathy win the day. That the focus of our country’s leaders begins to move into a place where we look out for the safety of our fellow citizens, protect our earth from the ravages of climate change, protect women’s rights, and place a higher value on education and healthcare. What is happening now is just not sustainable, and it’s pretty scary. And get vaccinated, people! C’mon now.
Rockmommy: What’s the best advice you’ve received for balancing creative life with all of the other demands?
Alison Faith Levy: I’m still working on that one! Knowing that each day has a set of tasks to be completed, and not to get too anxious about the future. Take a deep breath, show up, and do your best. Also, let go of perfection, it is not your friend. I remind myself every day to be grateful for the gift of being able to do all the work that I do in the community. It can be overwhelming sometimes, but it’s all good and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.