Many young parents may recall growing up in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s watching the made-for-home-video children’s series Adam’s World. Adam, the lovable green puppet and his equally colourful sister Aneesah, were stars of the ground-breaking educational project initiated by Chicago based multi-media producers Sound Vision (still going strong after 29 years!).
Aimed at children of muslim families in English speaking territories, Adam’s World spread rapidly throughout North America and the United Kingdom ~ loved affectionately for it’s playfulness, spiritual songs, quirky characters and often sensitive storylines.
In 1996, nine episodes into the run of the series, I jumped on the creative caravan, bringing my passions for puppetry, performance and songwriting to the Adam’s World production team. Over the years, millions of children grew up on the music featured in the series, with Adam’s World helping to bring many of my self-penned hymns to muslim families around the planet. Numerous refrains from my early recordings found their way into Adam’s World episodes, as did I ~ my youthful face at the time however, often hidden behind puppet limbs, buried beneath stage make up or performing with pseudonyms like “Horace Muckster”, “Khaled DiLaurentis” or “Willie”.
Now, with a new generation of media savvy children poking at their parent’s iPads, Sound Vision is still hard at work producing web-based episodes of Adam’s World for parents to enjoy with their toddlers ~ and it has been delightful for me to still be a part of the fun.
Saad For Salat the latest Adam’s World episode (released in 2016 on DVD) introduces families to a vibrant new theme song and several live segments of fresh, original material I have enjoyed creating.
As the early episodes of the series never had a formal opening theme-song, Sound Vision approached me a few years ago, asking if I would consider writing and recording one. We went back and forth with drafts until we finally had something we felt really reflected the playful nature the series…something fun and folky that would stand the test of time.
Production did not stop there, however. With scenes for a new episode filmed and still on the editing table, more was needed to flesh out the completed animated segments, educational interludes and puppet performances. Digging into my journals and notebooks, I found some scraps of unfinished songs that quick fell together and I offered them up for use in the new Adam’s World program. But with the production schedule and budget maxing out, creating montage style music videos for the songs seemed impossible.
A strong advocate of traditional song circles and helping audiences understand the importance of community music, I suggested filming the new songs “live” in the style of educational television pioneers like Fred Rogers (“Mr. Rogers Neighbourhood”) or Tony Saletan who had inspired me as a child. In our times of instant digital downloads and people crowding on busses, each plugged into their own set of ear-buds ~ I often worry that we are rapidly losing touch with how it feels to really share music with others. We’re all connected to personal song libraries on our iClouds, but we’re not communicating with each other through song, the way previous civilizations did for thousands of years.
A small production team and I set up some cameras in a cozy Markham, Ontario living room, ordered in some lunch, invited some children to sing along and set to work. My hope is that, the segments we filmed for the new Adam’s World may introduce young viewers to the experience of “live” singing, which is quite different from what we commonly see in lip-synced music videos or audio-dubbed children’s programs.
Check out the new Adam’s World theme song here and see if you can get the whole family singing along with it!