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Grammy-nominated musician performs to a sea of red at Lawrence Avenue Elementary

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POTSDAM - While it may have sounded like a party in the halls in the halls of Lawrence Avenue Elementary School in Potsdam earlier this week, it was actually a concert from Grammy-nominated children’s musician Red Grammer.

“If you haven’t looked around, we’ve got a little bit of red going on, but your red and my red aren’t as good as the other Red we have here today,” Lawrence Avenue Principal Larry B. Jenne said before intoducing Mr. Grammer.

The concert would best be described as an interactive show featuring audience participation from the students and teachers, many of whom sang along and danced during most of the 50-minute set.

Songs included “Hello World,” a tune that taught students how to say “hello” in 20 different languages, “Down by the Sea,” which included improvised lyrics and dance movements created by students during the performance and a song that paid tribute to the planet Earth.

Mr. Grammer explained to the students that if we were to move one planet closer to the sun it would be 800 degrees and if we were to move one planet farther away from the sun, the temperatures there drop to more than -100 degrees at night.

“This planet is the one,” he said.

The show concluded with “The Barnyard Boogie,” another interactive song that featured children “bawking” along like a rooster throughout the tune which included the lyric, “He’s the kind of clucker who was born to harmonize.”

Mr. Jenne said Thursday’s shows at the school weren’t the first time Mr. Grammer has visited Potsdam.

“He was here five years ago, and it was the best assembly I’ve ever been a part of in my 30 plus years of teaching and being a principal,” he said. “It’s been a long winter and a hard year. We really needed something like this.”

And while Red Grammer may not be a household name, the students all knew who he was.

Cathy Frick, who teaches music at Lawrence Avenue, said she’s been working on Mr. Grammer’s songs with the students all year.

“They love his music,” she said.

Mr. Jenne also noted the school day at Lawrence Avenue starts each morning with a Red Grammer song played over the PA before the morning announcements.

Mr. Grammer, who was nominated for the best children’s album Grammy in 2005, said he released his first children’s album 33 years ago. Since that time he has released six children’s albums and a DVD. Mr. Grammer also said he is currently in the developmental stages of a smartphone app.

He said seeing the smiles on children’s faces and hearing the laughter and music that comes from their mouths keeps him going more than 30 years after his first album release.

“When they sing along, just to hear their voices... it’s a sweet sound,” he said.

Mr. Jenne said since the students were first made aware that Mr. Grammer would be coming to Potsdam, anticipation at the school had been building.

“The kids were running off of the buses this morning,” he said. “There was so much energy in that room.”

Mr. Grammer performed two shows at the school, one for students in kindergarten, first grade and second grade in the morning, and a second performance for students in third and fourth grade that afternoon.

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