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Susan’s Stories Behind the Songs

“Ruby B.”

— from Susan Salidor: By Heart

This “jump rope” style chant about Ruby Bridges was included in Ms. Bridges’ autobiography Through My Eyes (Hardcover edition only, Scholastic) on the end page with a picture of Ms. Bridges as a young girl.

I had an opportunity to meet Ms. Bridges when she was touring with Robert Coles’ book The Story of Ruby Bridges some years ago. I heard her speak twice during that tour and was very impressed by her modesty. She spoke about those early years (integrating her 1st grade classroom at the request of her parents) in third person, which I found fascinating. I wrote my song, recorded it for the CD Susan Salidor: By Heart, and soon after that Ms. Bridges heard it performed by school children in Rockford, IL. When she wrote her own book, Scholastic requested use of the song and I was thrilled beyond words. It is the honor I cherish most regarding accolades about my work. (2/08)

“I Love My Sister”

— from Little Voices In My Head

This song was written for my two daughters Hope and Hannah. (You can hear their names in the background on “Shortenin’ Bread.”) After our oldest daughter, Hope, was born, I was unsure whether to have more children. I was completely devoted to my daughter (just ask my husband) and worried that I would not have love enough for another child.

My husband, who is from a family of seven, weighed in on the matter calling upon his own deep and loving feelings toward each of his siblings. My brother-in-law and sisters-in-law are truly wonderful people and I’ve long envied the closeness between them. They truly enjoy being with each other! In the end, we decided to try for another child and Hannah was born soon thereafter. I cannot imagine life without her and it has been a joy watching the girls grow. Ali, our foster son, came into our lives when Hannah was five and completed our family.

When I sing this song in concert or in music class, children offer up all the people they love in their lives and together we incorporate them into the song. (2/08)

“At the Resale Shop”

— from Color Me Singing

People close to me know that I love shopping at resale and thift stores. I think of it as searching for hidden treasures and often share my stories of incredible “finds” with anyone who will listen. Armed with a keen eye and a few singles, I challenge you to visit the nearest resale shop with someone you love who is under 5 years old ? he or she will point you to the treasures you may have missed. Maybe that’s what attracts me: looking at something discarded by one person with the eyes of a child. Amazing items purchased at resale shops over the years include 1) a bread machine that makes the most delicious loaves you can imagine; 2) a cashmere poncho; 3) knee length red suede boots; 4) countless new or almost-new boots, snowpants and coats for my children and me; 5) beautiful barely-worn formal dresses. Favorite resale/thrift stores include 1) any Howard Brown Elephant stores in Chicago and 2) the Hospital Thrift Store in Nantucket, MA. (2/08)

“The Boo Boo Gets Better By and By”

— from Come and Make a Circle

“The boo boo gets better by and by; let’s get a pretty bandage to keep it clean and dry; we’ll check it every day until it disappears from view; because the boo boo gets better by and by” goes the chorus of this song. Every group of children I have sung with is eager to show me their boo boos and, with great drama, explain how they happened. I have never heard a story that wasn’t terribly dramatic and infused with a type of worry not usually seen in young ones. With this song, I try to reassure young children that boo boos 1) happen to everyone, and 2) that most boo boos, if not all, go away eventually. Getting parents to join me on the chorus turns this simple song into a “moment” for young families in my audience.

“I’m Sorry”

— from Songs in the Key of Chai

I’ve always wanted to write a song for the preschool crowd about Yom Kippur and the opportunity we have during the high holidays to make amends, to apologize to those people we have wronged. Quite a heavy sentiment for young ones, which is why I tried to keep the song short but to the point. “I’m Sorry” has a solemn feel, something I normally stay away from in my work. My hope is that it engages young children with the clear message that saying “I’m Sorry” is brave, important, and that even best friends sometimes do or say things for which they need to apologize.

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