• Gimme Some Moey!

    Kid Songstress Melissa Levis Reinvents “Happily Ever After” In Her New NYC-Themed Release

    By Nancy Ryerson

    Melissa Levis,
    perhaps better known as “Moey,” has cast a spell over
    Central Park. Since 2005, she has taught her popular
    Moey’s Music Party classes under a leafy tree on Cedar Hill, turning otherwise napping
    preschoolers into musicians, dancers and even princesses who sway to the beat,
    dazzle with instruments and even clean up at her command. Over the past three
    years, she and her band have performed 26 concerts in the park, drawing big
    crowds and earning her the moniker the “Pied Piper in Pink.” —%uFFFD

    Levis is an award-winning children’s performer
    who has lived in
    New
    York

    for the past 20 years. Her first CD, “Moey’s Music Party”
    featured NYC-inspired
    tunes, earning her a big thumbs up from Mayor Bloomberg, who complimented her
    for well-representing the city with songs like “New York City Kid.” For her new
    DVD, she’s continued to use the city as a
    muse, conducting research by jogging around the park with her friends and
    picking out the prettiest spots for filming with her biggest fans. And now,
    she’s bringing the enchanted forest of Central Park and her catchy tunes to
    tots nationwide with her sophomore release, “Happily Ever Moey!: A Fairy Tale
    Lark in Central Park
    .” Featuring refurbished fairy tales set in New York’s most
    famous park—and told through her trademark folksy music—“Happily Ever Moey!” is
    Levis’s first foray into film.

    “I think New Yorkers will see this video as a Where’s Waldo,” says Levis. “Like, oh I know that spot, oh I know that spot.
    It’s really fun for kids and for parents.”

    Moey_cd.pngGiving some classic fairy tales an urban twist, Moey sings as the tortoise
    and the hare race around
    Central Park’s running loop
    and Tavern on the Green houses the Three Little Pigs. Other tales get fully
    revamped for the 21st Century, like Little Riding Hood who judo-kicks the Big
    Bad Wolf and Snow White and Sleeping Beauty who chant “I’m no helpless maiden,
    the whole wide world is awaitin’!”

    In addition to wholesome
    entertainment,
    Levis hopes that the meaning behind her songs will
    build character as well as music, reading and counting skills in her little
    listeners. And with degrees from
    Brown University and NYU, Levis’s music for kids
    isn’t just sugary sweet. “It’s like those recipes for putting spinach in
    brownies,” she says.%uFFFD

    She even changed some of the endings to bolster a positive, proactive
    message for today’s youth.

    To really live happily ever after, it’s not
    just marrying your prince or your princess,” says
    Levis. “It’s
    changing the endings, rewriting the stories, finding better endings. Be your
    own hero.”

    Writing songs that operate on many levels is nothing new for Levis, who got her
    start performing original numbers at high-end birthday parties before going into
    Off-Broadway theater. She made the leap from writing adults tunes to penning kiddie
    melodies when she became a mom.
    When
    her son Monty was born, she decided to chronicle the minutiae of motherhood
    through music, like the time he refused to wash his hair. And although it’s
    sometimes hard to balance being a rock star with being a mom, she’s grateful
    for her family’s support and for having a career that they can be proud of. Now
    eight, Monty even makes cameo appearances in her
    DVD.

    MoeyDVDreleaseshotcolorcorrected.jpeg

    I really believe in dramatic play and dress up,”
    she enthuses. “I want to encourage the idea of making costumes, of making
    instruments, of really empowering children that creativity is accessible for
    them.”

    The DVD has already received a Starred
    Review from School Library Journal, but what’s next for the Pied Piper in Pink?
    Her own TV show; Moey and her band are currently shopping around for the best
    production company for the job.

    “Moey is like the best part of me,” says Levis. “Melissa is
    the mom who gets her kid on the bus to get to camp and puts on the suntan
    lotion. But Moey is like my inner child – the joyful, fun, creative,
    spontaneous, and ebullient part of me.”

    Kids
    can rock out with Moey in her weekly Moey’s Music Party Classes at The New York
    Junior League (130 East 80th Street) Thursdays and Fridays this fall.
    For
    more information, visit moeysmusicparty.com.

    Photos by Bob Johnson

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