Tag Archives: Smithsonian Folkways

A Conversation with Elizabeth Mitchell

You don’t hear her doing Disney theme songs or dancing around between shows on Nick Jr., but Elizabeth Mitchell is kindie royalty — especially for parents who appreciate family music on the quieter, more natural end of the spectrum. With minimum production, Mitchell and her family (including her husband, Daniel Littleton, and their daughter Storey) harmonize over gently arranged versions of traditional tunes like “Little Liza Jane,” more recent classics like Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day,” and a smattering of originals.

Around my house, Elizabeth’s music is frequently heard, and her name comes up in conversation on a regular basis, but maybe your home isn’t so lucky. Let this interview be your introduction to an artist who’s making some of the warmest, most enriching family music on the modern kindie landscape. And if you’re already a fan? Here’s a peek behind the scenes of some of your family’s favorite songs.

I’d like to begin by talking about how you found your voice as an artist. Your albums are filled with such a wonderful sense of peace.

Well, I think it’s definitely informed by spending time with children, and my beginnings as a teacher. That was something I felt like they maybe weren’t getting elsewhere — that the sense of being grounded, and the peace you’re talking about, was something that maybe wasn’t being imparted by Spongebob Squarepants. [Laughter] That has its place, too — we all need to yuk it up and goof around. But maybe there aren’t so many outlets for centering, being compassionate, and thinking about the larger world. Just having a quiet moment with someone else, shared through music.

I just kind of got a sense that was a place I could go with the kids when I was teaching, and it’s a place you can find naturally and effortlessly. It’s also something that comes easily to me — I don’t do zany super well. This is just sort of what revealed itself to me, and it seems to be what resonates and seems to be of service to people. That’s the response I get, and it inspires me to keep going. Continue reading