New Zealander David Antony Clark grew up with the music of Bob Dylan, and, like many his age, felt sad that the youngun’s had no idea who that was. Instead of moaning, he decided to produce Kids Sing Bob Dylan, an 11-track CD of covers sung by the Starbugs, Clark’s children’s group.
Before you flinch, check the YouTube clip above. These kids can actually sing, right? The harmonies are there...I mean possibly cleaned up a bit with technology, I can’t say for sure.
Here’s “Forever Young,” from Dylan’s 1974 Planet Waves. An appropriate song for this quintet: Jessie Hillel, Rebecca Jenkins, Sarah Whitaker, Ben Anderson, and Roisin Anderson, all from Wellington, NZ, and raging in age from 7 to 15.
According to a Stuff.nz article on the release, Jessie Hillel said about the recording: "Hearing and listening to him was really fun. But you can do whatever you want to the songs, but at the same time I really wanted to have his standard because he did such a good job. I feel proud of myself, it's just so good."
Ben Anderson, age 12, was the only one with previous knowledge of Dylan: “"I'd heard about him a few times before, I was really excited. He's a really good singer, just the emotion that he puts into his songs, I was really excited to sing them. I was really nervous that I wouldn't live up to it, and do it right, but it got easier as the song went on."
Now, you might have noticed two things from a quick listen. One of the younger kids, Jessie Hillel, might be small, but she packs a voice from someone twice her age. (She handles the lower range in the harmonies.) The other thing: these videos are from 2011.
Where is Jessie now? Funny you ask:
In 2012 she made her way onto the finals of New Zealand’s Got Talent, and in 2016 she sang Puccini in Melbourne. She’s currently studying music in Melbourne and is in a jazz-fusion band called Jakal.
Sarah Whitaker also has her own music channel on YouTube.
Funny about kids--they grow up right in front of your eyes.
Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.