Joanie Leeds Champions Children’s Literature in “FREADOM”

Joanie Leeds Champions Children’s Literature in “FREADOM”
Jun 27, 2024

Grammy-Winning Children’s Artist Returns to Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods Sun. July 7

Beloved children’s music artist Joanie Leeds loves using music as a platform to address contemporary issues in a way that is accessible for children. Her last album, “All the Ladies,” celebrating female changemakers, won a Grammy for its positive, life-affirming messages for children. Her new album, “FREADOM,” creatively addresses the issue of banned children’s picture books and celebrates the joy that reading brings to children’s lives. Here, Leeds discusses the evolution of her music career and the inspiration for her most recent album.

Q:        Can you talk about your background and how you first became interested in performing?

A:         For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in singing and performing. I began learning piano as a two-year-old, took voice lessons before I was a teenager, and began playing guitar in high school. When I went to college, I started writing my own songs and released my first album before I graduated. In total, I have released 12 albums of original music, nine of which are for children.

WOLF TRAP:   How did you gravitate toward children’s music?

JOANIE LEEDS: After a ton of day jobs to stay afloat while I was focusing on a singing/songwriting career, I decided to audition for a job at Gymboree Play and Music where I could sing for my day job, and I had never been happier. I had never worked with kids before, but instantly fell in love with them. I had a lot to learn when it came to their developmental stages and attention spans, but I knew I didn’t want to write for grownups anymore. If you had told me then that I would one day win a GRAMMY for children’s music, I would have never believed you, but here we are! 

WT:       Tell us what inspired you to create a musical album about banned books.

JL:        As a child growing up in Miami, I spent a lot of my time in libraries. Books were a beautiful way to learn about the world, my community, and myself. When my daughter was born, I started reading to her. However, we learned that many of the diverse books we love had been banned, especially in my home state of Florida. We thought it was important to bring awareness to the issue. 

WT:     What do you hope families will take away from this new album?

JL:        Books are our window to the world and an opportunity to learn about people different from ourselves. My album, “FREADOM,” features seven songs inspired by banned books, but there are many more titles that are currently being challenged. The freedom to read is incredibly important, and my album–especially the title track–is a call to the country to stand up for books, authors, and families everywhere. We all deserve access to these books and we have the right to say: “We will not be banned!”

To purchase tickets to Leeds’ performanceon Sunday, July 7 visit

To learn more about Joanie Leeds, visit