by Constance Tucker
Why does music move us; is it the notes, the music? Is it the inflection or the sound that signifies the emotion? Or is it the words, the story, the meaning behind it all. So, what happens when you combine, music and message together in a CD and book format. Vocalist, composer, and visionary Toni Jannotta has done just this. Jannotta explains “My Little Heart, Ruthie attempts to reach all survivors of emotional abuse, young and old, with the message of hope and the healing that comes through knowing the abuse was never their fault. “
Joined by illustrator Jennifer Mones, with the music composed by Jannotta, the two embark on a journey. Mones, creatively captures Jannotta’s visionary storyline with an eye towards a children’s story, but with a very grown up message.
Jannotta a musician by trade, seamlessly transitions to an author, but still implementing her robust skills as a musician, vocalist, and composer. Joined by a cavalcade of heartfelt performances by Carol Robbins on harp, Jon Crosse on trumpet, Granville “Danny” Young on acoustic bass, Paul Tavenner, drums and Toni Jannotta herself as the narrator and pianist, the senses are fully engaged with a story that exudes a feeling of real life triumph and healing.
The music has an ethereal mood at times, and then can quickly crescendo to heart-racing, swirling notes, that add to the emotional meaning of the story. Crisply underpinned in jazz, Jannotta uses her jazz vocalist background to bring a spontaneous feeling and urgency to the story, with a hint of being on the edge of chaos, when the story suggests and then relaxing into a fanciful feeling of relief and resolve.
Jannotta has artfully brought together the best of both worlds in sound and word, for a lasting resonance, both in music and pen. A bedtime story, yes – but one with larger implications and wrapped in a jazz sonic, sure to delight even the most particular parent of children’s books.