May 20, 2004

Act Your Age: Kids Of Widney High
(Originally aired 23rd April 2004)

Back in 1987, Michael Monaghan, a teacher at Widney High, a Los Angeles school for the developmentally disabled, decided to set up a songwriting class for the students. After some initial difficulty with the idea of original songs, the kids – who suffered from conditions like epilepsy, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome and muscular dystrophy – quickly warmed to the whole process of expressing their unique experiences in three-minute pop tunes – and they had an undeniable talent for it too.

When Monaghan sent their first batch of material out to be professionally recorded (so the kids would have a memento of the class), one of the tapes found its way to the offices of Rounder Records who offered to release it commercially. The resulting album Special Music From Special Kids developed a serious cult following and the Kids were soon scoring regular gigs in LA clubs. (At one point, they were even opening for Mr Bungle.)

“Act Your Age”, which came out earlier this year, is the third album to have emerged from this songwriting class. In addition to its tales of life as a Widney kid, it includes a reflective history of the Cuban revolution, a bouncy number about a disabled Santa, and an anthem to bovines. The album (and the rest of the KOWH back catalogue) can be purchased from their website.

(With the music world taken care of, the Kids of Widney High are now heading off to conquer the silver screen. There's a documentary about them in the works, and special appearance by the Kids in a forthcoming Farrelly Bros film.)

Posted by Warren at May 20, 2004 01:39 PM | Outsider