Happy Tuesday! We typically would wait until Saturday to do Q&A’s but during our Week of Music anything can happen! Can you tell just how exciting our lives are? Anyways, jokes about our thrilling lives aside, we are more than excited to be able to bring you more information about The Alphabet Rockers. This dynamic duo is the driving force behind a myriad of great music and social justice action. Hope you enjoy our chat as much as we did!
The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself/your organization!
Alphabet Rockers: We are cofounders – Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd – and we’ve been making hip hop as an Alphabet Rockers crew since 2007. Coming together in Oakland at that time, we were excited to make fun music for young families that enhanced learning but we’ve grown with the times. The learning we lift up in our music is no longer ABC’s and tying shoes- it’s gender justice for trans and non-binary kids, it’s Black liberation and joy, it’s the beauty of migration and welcoming immigrants…it’s a world where we can all be free. We bring this music to 50 schools across the country each year, to libraries and to big stages like the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in DC and the Kennedy Center in NYC.
TTA: What are you passionate about?
AR: Creating a world free from racial and gender bias. Youth activism. And hip hop.
TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!
AR: Right now, it’s all about The Love. Our new album is currently on the GRAMMY ballot (keeping fingers crossed for a second nomination), and we have big shows lined up to premiere the album including the Oakland Life is Living Festival and SF Jazz this fall. After a year bringing together almost 60 guests artists and centering representational LGBTQ+ voices, we can’t wait to give it all away. We say “The Love is for You” because this album lifts up so many perspectives. Whether you are listening as an ally, a trans child, a queer artist or a two-spirit activist waiting to hear your native land honored, we’ve got you. YOU are the love.
TTA: How can people support you on your journey?
AR: Subscribe to our So Get Me podcast for families making change. Listen to it anywhere you get your podcasts and you’ll hear our young Rockers share their activism- like The Butterfly Effect project lead by Lily (10) and Kaia (11). They have rallied folks to make and display 15,000 butterflies to symbolize each child being held in a detention center at the border. You can hear them on our podcast along with activist authors Kate Schatz and Innosanto Nagara who are both fans of our music. Also, download The Love. Really listen. Let it move you into action.
TTA: What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?
AR: We got a sneak peek of Innosanto Nagara’s M is for Movement that comes out
November 2019 and we LOVED it! Wait ’til you see the gorgeous artwork and dig into
the story of one child born at the rise of a movement.
TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
AR: This year we welcome a new baby into the Rocker family (Kaitlin just had her second!) so that’s a huge bright spot- reminding us what all this is for and expanding our crew. Also making room for our young rockstars to shine on stage- Lil’ Tommy (11), Kali (11), Maia (10) and Lily (10) are bringing their voices, ideas and spirits forward more everyday. Just looking forward to bringing our art to the world during this particular time in history. When they throw shade…we throw shine.
On Saturday, November 16th from 3-4pm at Lake Merritt Amphitheater in Oakland, The Butterfly Effect will host a rally featuring youth speakers and performances by the Grammy-nominated Alphabet Rockers, and Destiny Arts Center youth. Nancy Ukai, a Japanese American whose family are internment camp survivors and who is an activist with Tsuru for Solidarity, will also speak at the event. On display will be 15,000 butterflies created by the community as a sign of friendship and support to the children in detention.
To join the effort, and for more information about The Butterfly Effect,
Youth are available for interviews.
Instagram: @alphabetrockers #TheLOVE