Taking classic songs (especially those from one’s childhood) and reimagining them is no easy task for a singer. And in some cases, it can leave the listener feeling a little, well, let down. But that’s not the case with Imagine That! The Sesame Street Music of Joe Raposo and Jeff Moss. Rena Strober, an award-winning Broadway, film, and television actor has teamed up with musical greats, such as Jason Alexander and French Stewart, as well as DOTZ, The Blind Children’s Choir, to sing (and honor) Sesame Street songs that everyone knows and loves.
Strober, who works extensively with the blind community, features the voice talents of DOTZ, The Blind Children’s Choir, on songs like “Sing,” “Believe In Yourself,” What Makes Music?,” “One Small Voice,” and “To Love a Child.”
Nostalgic vibes are everywhere on this album, which also features the voice talents of Cristina Jones, an acclaimed blind opera singer, Michael-Leon Wooley, and Deborah Grausman, who plays Smartie on Sesame Street. The beauty of this album is that Strober has somehow taken on this almost-impossible task of recreating iconic (and much beloved) Sesame Street songs and still somehow managed to remain true to the essence of them while still making them her own.
For example, “Somebody Come and Play,” the opening song on the album, is beautiful, breezy, and fun. Strober has a beautiful Broadway voice that brings a new light to the song, practically to the point that you won’t miss Ernie singing it. And in “Sing”, which DOTZ accompanies Strober on, you can almost hear the Sesame Street characters singing along.
Imagine That! is just a happy collection of songs sung perfectly by Strober and her peers. She, along with Jason Alexander, achieve musical magic on the song “Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers,” an adorable duet that perfectly matches their musical talents. But if we had to guess, kids are going to go crazy over “I’m Pretty/I’m An Aardvark,” sung by French Stewart and Jason Alexander, who make quite the perfect pair.
The songs that will definitely tug at your heartstrings (and maybe make you shed a tear or two) is definitely “Imagination,” the beloved song originally sung by Bert and Ernie. And “Being Green”, the cherished Kermit the Frog song, is sung deftly and beautifully.
“[Producer Fred Mollin] and I just poured over all the Joe Raposo and Jeff Moss songbooks,” says Strober. “We wanted to find all the lyrics about human kindness, the music that brought us total joy, and the ideal showcase pieces for my special guests. As soon as I heard ‘I’m an Aardvark,’ for example, I knew I wanted Jason Alexander to sing it! I also wanted songs that, when sung by my blind friends, would mean more than when they were sung by anyone else.”
Imagine That! The Sesame Street Music of Joe Raposo & Jeff Moss by Rena Strober & Friends is a happy, musical journey back to your childhood. Even though the album is most likely meant for kids, adults will easily fall in love with this sweet collection of songs from Sesame Street. Strober has somehow managed to take these iconic tunes and stay true to them, while still making them her own — and making them loved in a whole new way for a new generation.
“What the world needs now, more than ever, is the music of Sesame Street,” says Strober. “We need to be reminded that being kind is simple and being ‘different’ is beautiful. No matter what your abilities or disabilities, if you ‘Believe in Yourself,’ you can do anything!”