2023 GRAMMY Award-Winners Alphabet Rockers Raise Children's Voices for Change on New Album, The Movement

Article Contributed by JP Cutler Media | Published on Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Alphabet Rockers are GRAMMY Award winners at the Recording Academy's 2023 ceremony with their latest album, The Movement, winning the "Best Children's Music Album" category on Sunday, February 5, 2023 in Los Angeles, Calif. The four-time GRAMMY nominees have captured the attention of families and the music industry with their authentic voices for change across five award-winning albums. On The Movement, Alphabet Rockers raises the bar featuring the three youth artists (freshman at Oakland School for the Arts) as songwriters, lead vocalists and the compelling voices of our times. Alphabet Rockers crafted 13 new songs with a clear message - we have the power in our community to build a world of justice and belonging. The Recording Academy has responded with the ultimate sign of recognition for their change-making work with Alphabet Rockers winning their first GRAMMY Award. Alphabet Rocker's Maya Fleming and Kali de Jesus are among the youngest GRAMMY Winners (age 14), in line with Leanne Rimes and Walter Russell III (2023, Best Opera Recording). Tommy Shepherd III (age 15) marks the second time a parent and child have won the same GRAMMY Award, along with Blue Ivy and Beyonce in 2021.

"This feels like history in the making for Alphabet Rockers," says Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd. "We've always made songs truly from our heart that reflect the ultimate truth of our community. This is a moment of history as future, and not history as repetition. We are building a new path for people to land at being better and doing better. There are many lanes, but we have created another one because we need a lot of ways to do the right thing as being good is actually such a hard thing to do."

Alphabet Rockers has been featured by CBS Mornings, who ran two national features on the significant positive impact the Alphabet Rockers had on children during the COVID-19 global pandemic. America faced a racial reckoning across all industries during the pandemic in 2020, including children's music and the GRAMMYs. Alphabet Rockers worked hard to transform family music by centering Black voices into the conversation and dismantling racial bias within the industry as co-founders of Family Music Forward. 1 Tribe Collective, a Black artist collective, emerged from this work and recorded the album, All One Tribe, bringing Alphabet Rockers their 3rd GRAMMY nomination before The Movement moved into the spotlight in 2023.

Alphabet Rockers utilize important questions to drive its creative process, including how to create justice in a country facing its racist truths -- this led the group to an artist fellowship at the Othering & Belonging Institute at U.C. Berkeley supporting their early development of The Movement. The collective of children and adults asked questions, as simply as "when do you feel powerful, and when do you feel powerless?" and as complex as the tween writers asking, "how can people see that someone has changed?" and "how can the government use its resources to support the people, not just its systems?" The songs that came from this creative process on The Movement are bops -- with a depth that serves their intended audience - children wanting for everyone to be treated fairly and feel loved. They write their music with joy at the center, extending a call to all ages to join the movement.

The Movement opens with an invitation to "connect the head and heart" as "when people connect -- that's how we find unity." The songwriters reflect on real moments from their lives, and lean on the conversations and interviews they conducted with restorative justice practitioners from Oakland and leaders like Angela Y. Davis. As writer Maya Fleming says in her song, "Our Turn": "I've got a voice and I'm using it /And its way past time that you're hearing it /You can find a lot when you listen up." The voices of Alphabet Rockers are the balm for the reckoning of 2020. The Movement helps the whole family to understand their power, break biases, disrupt systems of oppression, and find community care. And "When it's all said and done - the word is LOVE."

The Movement was released on Friday, September 9, 2022.