Human communication

Palm Beach Gardens woman wins Grammy nomination for children’s song

Is there justice for you? Is there justice for me? Are we really free?

It’s the chorus of “Say Their Names” by Palm Beach Gardens musician and teacher Janis McDavid. The song is featured on 1 Tribe Collective’s “All One Tribe” album, which was nominated for a Grammy Award in this year’s Best Children’s Album category.

“I’m thrilled to be a newly Grammy-nominated children’s singer-songwriter,” McDavid said. “Being part of 1 Tribe Collective has invigorated my drive and passion for what I do.”

McDavid, 45, is the cousin of the late actor Chadwick Boseman, who starred in “Black Panther.” McDavid and Boseman became close when they attended Howard University College of Fine Arts together and, she says, he influenced her music.

Song by singer-songwriter Janis McDavid

“My cousin was a wonderful human being,” McDavid said. “I will always say his name and always remind people of the generous person he was and how he touched so many lives through his work.”

The 1 Tribe Collective is made up of 26 black musical artists, each with the goal of creating beautiful, educational and socially responsible music for families. The “All One Tribe” album can be streamed on most digital music platforms.

“I’m grateful for the exposure that I can get and that these other artists can get now that we’ve been nominated on this huge Grammy platform,” McDavid said.

McDavid’s primary passion is singing for children, whether it be her own special education students or the schools she visits with her instruments and range of accessories to engage children.

Janis McDavid plays with a drum for a group of children.

Since moving from New York to Palm Beach County five years ago, she has been teaching at a small private school in Juno Beach, which has allowed her to work with children through music and movement, as well as the theatre. Before that, she visited schools as a music and movement specialist in New York.

Her favorite song to perform is “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” as it quickly silences a children’s room, she said.

“When a baby cries, it’s one of the first things I start singing and it usually works like a charm,” McDavid said. “Classical or traditional children’s songs are the best. They have proven themselves.

His main concert for the past two years, born out of the pandemic, has been virtual. When the pandemic first hit and everyone was told to stay home and schools went online, she started an online Ms. Janis music club that offers free daily music lessons. music and movement/circle on his Facebook page.

“I went live daily for six months and gave it to parents who were stuck at home with their young preschoolers and needed help,” McDavid said. “I offered it for free and the parents could tip me.”

She was happy to do it.

“I had the mentality that we were all in this together. It’s innate in me to want to serve and I’m brimming with creativity, so that’s usually how my serve is displayed. Through creativity.

The bulk of his children’s songs are designed to include movement. She creates songs that help teach the fundamental skills of socialization, gross motor and letter recognition that children develop during the preschool years.

A song called “Shake a Hand” teaches children how to say hello and ask someone how they are and how to react when someone greets you.

Janis McDavid uses a variety of props, including hats, scarves and even bubbles, when she entertains and educates children with songs.

In-person school visits and virtual sessions require considerable preparation. The song list is customized for specific schools, using themes that include seasons, colors, farm, holidays, music, and movement.

“Once I know what theme the school wants, I plan out my song list and the props I’ll need, which could include colorful scarves, musical instruments and pictures,” McDavid said. “For a virtual visit, I have to prepare the school in advance of what the children need to be actively involved during our time together.”

Along with filling her calendar with school events, one of her New Year’s resolutions is to collaborate with more musicians, songwriters and producers. She works with a company called My Personality Pups. She writes songs for an educational program focused on social-emotional learning and also does voice-over work.

McDavid attributes her success to the support she receives from her husband, Clarence Smith, as well as her parents, Billy and Dianne McDavid.

The late Chadwick Boseman, whose film roles included the lead role in "Black Panther," was the cousin and friend of Janis McDavid since they were students at Howard University.

On Grammy night, she said, she will think of Boseman and how she continues her legacy of touching lives through art.

“The last communication I had from him was two signed posters,” McDavid said. “One of the autographed posters was for one of my students with special needs who loved Marvel and Black Panther. The other poster he signed was for me. This one was unexpected, but I’m grateful to see her.

It’s a “Black Panther” poster he signed that says “Miss you Janis.”

To learn more about Janis McDavid, visit www.msjanismusic.com.