A catchy theme song for a new PBS Kids show will feature some South Philly flavor.
Third-grade students at Fanny Jackson Coppin School on 12th Street in Passyunk Square helped introduce the television series Lyla in the Loop by providing backup vocals to the opening tune.
The show, created by Philadelphia-based Mighty Picnic founder and Emmy-winning producer Dave Peth, debuts on Feb. 5, highlighting problem-solving and critical-thinking skills for kids ages 4-8.
This animated series follows the adventures of a 7-year-old girl named Lyla Loops (voiced by Liyou Abere), who lives in a big city, inspired by Philadelphia, with her best friend, family and “fantastical” sidekick Stu (Izzy Woodbury).
The song’s recording actually took place more than a year ago when the students were in second grade. Twenty-one students recorded the vocals at Milkboy the Studio in Philadelphia.
“Everyone knows the teacher, the cop, the firefighter, the doctor. But who knows the recording engineer?,” said Danielle Harrigan, a former second-grade teacher at Fanny Coppin who now serves as a consulting teacher coach in the district’s Office of Professional Learning. “This experience opened up their eyes to different jobs and career paths that they didn’t know existed. Our kids know cartoons, but now they know what it takes to get that 30-second clip. It’s a lot of work.”
Before the recording, Harrigan worked with her class to practice the lyrics.
“They were learning through doing and that’s what school should always be like,” Harrigan said. “The reason I grew up being a teacher is because I grew up with amazing teachers that fostered my love of learning, so I value creating relationships with my kids that open up their eyes to new experiences and the opportunities that are available to them.”
The students were led by Grammy-nominated musician Divinity Roxx, who composed and performed the music and coached them through the recording. Fanny Coppin students from Chris Argerakis’ music class also participated. The students recorded the song in two different groups, without music, and learned how to get the cadence right.
“I was super excited to sing because I’ve never sung on a TV show before. It was really cool to see how our voices changed when it all came together,” said Zion Ekpaji, a Fanny Coppin third-grader. “I hope it inspires people watching to sing or be on a show.”
Peth reached out to the district to recruit students for the project.
“We are so grateful to Dave Peth and PBS for including and working with our students on this project,” said Frank Machos, executive director for the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of the Arts & Creative Learning. “This is an ideal collaboration where, through their peek behind the scenes and participation in the creative process, students learned about cool job opportunities in the creative industries and also now have an incredible work of art that they can share with friends and family for years to come. We appreciate this opportunity and are looking forward to the show’s debut to see the hard work from our students in action.”
Peth’s daughter Anna attends Fanny Coppin and was one of the vocalists.
“I am very excited for everyone to know that it’s our class singing the theme song. Music is really fun and the song is awesome,” said Anna. “My favorite part was singing the lyrics and watching two of the shows. Our school was in the credits and that was really neat.”
It was a team effort.
“I was really, really excited,” said Julian Tellez, Fanny Coppin student. “I really like singing and that was the first time I have ever been to a studio to record something. I have also never been to a place with a thousand buttons like the studio. I hope people really like the show.”