Mom Music Spotlight
to a sample from Chip Richter
Fresh, Fun Music for the Whole
Family Music Spotlight Interview with Chip Richter
The gift of music is a wonderful thing to share with
our children and musician Chip Richter makes it even better. I was so happy
to discover Chip’s music, which I’ve been sharing lately with my own
family. Chip Richter and his family live in Ohio, and for the past ten
years he’s spent his summers at a family resort called Lakeside, creating
and sharing the type of music you’d be pleased to share with your children.
A far cry from Barney or even those Disney sing-along type things you may
have at home, Chip’s music is great in that it appeals to both kids and
grown ups! Recently, Chip has been at work recording his new CD, Lost in
Lakeside. Additionally, this summer he will be promoting literacy and
music with several library tours, as well as an appearance at the Annual
Conference of the California Reading Association.
I had a chance to catch up with Chip and am pleased to
share his comments on his music and sharing music with our families.
Chip, could you please start off by telling our readers a bit about yourself
and your music?
A: Well, I’m a husband and father of three… I’ve always
said that being a dad is the best thing I’ll ever do. I’m also a
singer-songwriter and musician. I was born and raised in Ohio, lived a few
years in New York and then southern California and now I’m back in Ohio
where we’re raising our family. I started playing guitar when I was 13 years
old and started writing songs in college.
Q: How did you get started in
music and how have you headed towards a focus on recording "family" music?
A: My music career really begins as a church
musician and worship leader. I really never have played the clubs and bars
like you read about others doing. As a teenager I became a committed
Christian and began leading others in worship and playing special music in
church. I never started out thinking I would be writing and performing music
for kids and families. When I released my first album, People of Destiny, an
album I recorded for adults… I started hearing from parents telling me how
much their kids enjoyed some of the songs, which surprised me but I was glad
to hear it. At about the same time I was offered a summer gig at a Christian
family resort singing and playing music for a weekly kids program. Out of
necessity I needed to write some songs for that first summer and I
discovered a brand new audience. I’m still just writing what’s in my heart
to write but I have to confess kids and families have captured my heart and
I love sharing my music with them.
Q: How has your own faith
journey impacted on your music?
A: I continue to grow in my faith and in my
musicianship and songwriting almost simultaneously… for me the two have
always been intertwined. I’m not really interested in being labeled as a
“Christian artist” but it’s pretty hard to separate my faith from my music
so I don’t try. I write about stuff that moves me and inspires me. I can’t
think of anything or anyone who moves and inspires me more than God… the
creator of all things! I believe God is sovereign and over all things so I
see Him in all of my songs and in every aspect of life, especially family
Q: Can you give us some
suggestions on how parents can share the gift of music with their children
while helping them to make appropriate listening decisions.
A: One of the things I would encouraged parents to do
is listen to music “with” their children. Introduce your kids to the
classics as well as lots of different styles of music including some of the
music that you like… it doesn’t have to be Barney and Romper Room for kids
to enjoy it and get something from it. I think we sell kids short sometimes.
I’ve discovered children to have a depth and capacity that has surprised me.
Here’s a real life example. Over the Christmas holiday my son and I were in
the car with the radio on. Karen Carpenter was singing White Christmas
and my son Austin commented that he really liked her voice… “Me too,” I
said. So I looked around and found a “Best of the Carpenters” album and gave
it to him for Christmas… he’s eleven and he’s becoming a Carpenters fan… go
I think the most important thing for parents is to not
just assume that because the music is being marketed to children that it’s
really good for your kids. I’ve seen and heard some pretty awful stuff made
for kids. Some of it’s awful because of the production values and some of
it’s awful because of the message in the music! So that means parents need
to listen for themselves, which can be a harrowing experience at times. I
know there’s some pretty cheesy, shallow stuff out there that passes for
kids’ music that most parents would want to toss out the car window after
just one listening, but there’s also some great stuff out there too. One of
my goals has been to write and produce music that parents will enjoy as much
as their kids. I’m trying to write songs that will encourage, build up and
reinforce those values and dynamics that are important to families. I’m not
the only one writing music with that goal in mind. There’s so much out there
that parents can take advantage of when it comes to music for their kids but
it requires some looking. Several artists and bands that I would recommend
(both Christian and secular) Zak Morgan, Alan Root, Mary Rice Hopkins, Dan
Zanes, Trout Fishing in America, Dean-O and the Dynamos, Tom Chapin and
Glenn Colton. You may not find our music in the record stores or Christian
bookstores because we are considered such a small niche but the internet has
made it possible for us to distribute our music all over the world and
that’s been very exciting for all of us. You’ll find all of these artists
Q: I loved watching the DVD
and listening to the CD of "Live at Lakeside" with my boys. How did this
project come about? Tell us about your family concerts.
Lakeside is the “family resort” I mentioned that first invited me to
play for kids during the summer. That was ten years ago and I’ve played
there every summer since… it’s been a great place to do what I do. The DVD
was shot when I did a family concert with my band The Munks… (Chip and The
Munks, get it?) Anyway… we had this concert booked and thought let’s capture
it on DVD and record a “live” album as well. So did that and it really all
came together so well. In addition to the concert we also included some
special features on the DVD like a tour of Lakeside and a look at what goes
on at a sound check before a concert as well as some music videos.
We think our family concerts are truly unique because
it's not a "kids show" and it's not an "adult show"... it's exactly what
it's billed to be... an all age event... FAMILY CONCERT! I include songs
that have been described as “rollicking, fun, bash around tunes, to songs
that are very spiritual, but not at all preachy”. I try to keep everyone
involved from toddlers to teens to senior citizens with lots of audience
participation. Lately I’ve been covering Harry Chapin’s song “Cat’s in the
Cradle” and James Taylor’s song “Shower the People”. These are for sure not
kids songs but they are for sure songs for the family and fit well in my
Q: Who are some of your
favorite musicians and musical influences? Who do you recommend to friends
A: I’ve always been drawn to acoustic music and
singer-songwriters like James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. I think my music has
also been influenced by bands like The Beatles, Crosby Stills Nash and
Young, The Eagles and America. Phil Keaggy has played a huge part in shaping
and influencing me too. Phil and his wife Bernadette are actually old family
friends; they’re both Ohio natives as well. Over the years Phil has given me
some good advice as well as played and sang on some of my albums. Other
artists and bands I listen to and would recommend are David Wilcox, Michael
Card, Fernando Ortega, John Michael Talbot, Nickel Creek, Shawn Colvin,
Michael Hedges, Chris Rice, Allison Krauss and Union Station and Wes King.
All of those artists are making acoustic music and most are wonderful finger
style guitar players and songwriters which is what I tend to gravitate to.
Q: Are any of your songs
particular favorites? Why?
A: That’s a hard question for me to answer because I
like different things about all of my songs. But a couple songs stand out
for me because of what they remind me of at the time I wrote them.
Ladybugs Living Room is one of those… a song about pretending that was
inspired by a time of pretending with my daughter Megan. Designed to
Shine is a favorite because it came from a time of me playing my guitar
while my son Austin, then about three years old, danced around room laughing
and singing while I played. Wonderful Thing is a song all about hugs
that my daughter Brittany inspired… she’s the “hugger” in our family, you
know the person in your family who loves to give and get hugs. There are
others… every song has story behind it but those are just a few.
Q: Tell us a bit about your
"Roots and Wings" workshops.
A: That’s a workshop that really had it’s beginnings in
another song I wrote called My Dad’s Coat. I had a memory of being a
little boy and finding my dad’s overcoat and walking around with it on.
That’s something that is funny and even appropriate for a child to do… but
as I grew up it was important for me to wear my own coat, find my own way.
It occurred to me that my faith as a child was a lot like wearing my dad’s
coat. Children naturally and appropriately come under the covering of their
parents’ faith… but as kids grow up it’s important that they make this faith
their own. My parents helped me to do that… they passed their heritage,
faith and values to me and helped me assimilate them into my life. Now I’m
doing the same thing with my kids. The “Roots and Wings” workshop is
designed to give parents some very practical was to pass their faith on to
their kids and help them make it their own... passing on the roots and
helping them find their wings.
Q: Do you have plans for any
upcoming projects? Are there any closing thoughts you'd like to share with
A: Yes, I have a couple things I’m working on… one
album of songs for summertime… another project that’s going to be more for
parents than kids… love songs and mushy stuff like that… ugh! I appreciate
the chance to share my music with your readers. Parenting is a difficult job
but so important… I hope that my music will not only be entertaining for
kids and families but also encouraging for parents and their kids. That’s my
heart… too see kids built up, parents encouraged and families strengthened…
making it all “more fun than a kid should be allowed to have”!
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