During the first two decades of her musical career, singer/songwriter Stacey Peasley of Natick performed at venues like Foxwoods Resort Casino and Atlantic City’s Tropicana with her all-female band, the Chiclettes, which often opened for big-name groups from the 1950s and 1960s. Later, she was a popular performer at weddings and gala events.
So she thought she knew what it was like to have fun on stage. But it was in the past decade when she started taking the eldest of her three children to live concerts for toddlers and preschoolers, that she discovered just how much fun performing in front of an audience can be.
“There are so many activities that parents can do with young children — art, gymnastics — but something about seeing parents and young kids having such a great time at these sing-alongs really inspired me. I thought, ‘Wow, I could do that,’ ” Peasley recalled.
So Peasley, who also worked for several years as a middle school social studies teacher, changed course. Combining her teaching skills, her musical talent, and her parenting acumen, she restyled herself as a children’s singer and made it known that she was available to sing at children’s birthday parties.
Word of mouth alone helped her forge a new career path, and today Peasley leads the same kind of sing-alongs at libraries, festivals, summer concerts, and parties that she once brought her own children to.
Peasley’s second CD for children, “Lucky Day,” is out this month, with special launch events planned for Saturday at The Center for the Arts in Natick and March 23 at Temple Beth Shalom in Needham.
“Ninety-five percent of what I perform is original music that I wrote,” Peasley said. “But I have a large repertoire and can also take requests. The best part for me is when I’m at a library or someplace like that and ask the kids in the audience what they want to hear, expecting them to say ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ or ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider,’ and instead they name one of my original songs. It’s a really fun surprise to know that they’ve been listening to my CD at home or remember hearing me sing at another show.”
And with three children of her own, ages 9, 6, and 15 months, Peasley is never short on inspiration for lyrics.
“My ideas come from everyday life,” she said. “My own children, but also my experiences working with kids as a teacher, and the things that happen with my friends and their children. One of the songs on my new album was inspired by a friend’s Facebook post about her husband and daughter playing restaurant on Sunday mornings. They called their restaurant ‘Les Awesome’ and they made breakfast for the rest of the family. I wrote about that, and now it’s one of my most requested songs. Another friend posted a story about her child’s goldfish dying and not knowing what to tell him. I turned it into a song called ‘Marley.’ ”
Like many of Peasley’s songs, part of the appeal of “Marley” is that adults who listen carefully may pick up more nuance than kids do.
“In general, I try to make my songs kid-friendly but with a twist that adults can enjoy,” Peasley said. Her song “Wrecking Machine” reflects the recent behavior of her toddler. Another song was inspired by watching her oldest daughter and teammates play Saturday morning soccer.
Peasley is happy with her recent success, but she doesn’t think she is unique.
“There are awesome talented creative musicians all over the country who are making children’s music their life’s work,” she said.
“When you say you’re a kids’ performer, some people think only of Barney and the Wiggles, and there’s nothing wrong with their music either. But there are a wide variety of great children’s artists out there right now. It should be easy for any parent to find one that they and their kids both like.”
Peasley’s concert and CD launch takes place Saturday at 11 a.m. at The Center for the Arts , 14 Summer St. in Natick. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for children and can be purchased in advance at www.natickarts.org.
She will hold a subsequent CD release concert at 2:30 p.m. on March 23 at Temple Beth Shalom, 670 Highland Ave. in Needham. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for children. For more information on that concert, go to www.tbsneedham.org.
FIVE SHOWS FEATURED: Five new exhibitions all open concurrently on Friday at Brandeis University’s Rose Art Museum: “Chris Burden: The Master Builder”; “Mika Rottenberg: Bowls Balls Souls Holes”; “Rose Projects 01A: The Matter that Surrounds Us: Wols and Charline Van Heyl”; “Rose Video 02: Josephine Meckseper: Mall of America”; and “Collection in Focus: The Threshold of Recognition” by Mildred S. Lee.
The museum will hold an opening reception Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. featuring a conversation between artist Mike Rottenberg and museum director Christopher Bedford at 6:30 p.m. Other than the Meckseper exhibition, which closes March 16, the exhibitions stay up through June 8.
The Rose Museum is located on Brandeis University’s campus at 415 South St., Waltham, and is open Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.brandeis.edu/rose/ or call 781-736-3434.
THE ART OF HISTORY: The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College presents an exclusive exhibition that displays masterpieces of 20th-century photography, with 100 works by renowned photographers including Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Ilse Bing, André Kertész, Bill Brandt, Lisette Model, Dora Maar, and Brassaï. “Paris Night & Day: Photography between the Wars” represents the City of Light in the wake of World War I, a time when Paris drew an extensive international community of artists and writers who fueled each other’s creativity to produce one of the richest cultural moments of the century.
The exhibition will be on display through June 8, with a public opening reception on Monday from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Admission is free; the museum is located in Devlin Hall 101 on BC’s Chestnut Hill campus, 140 Commonwealth Ave. For hours and more information, call 617-552-8100 or go to www.bc.edu/artmuseum.
A VALENTINE OPERA NIGHT: Opera del West performs “A Night at the Operetta” on Sunday at The Center for the Arts, 14 Summer St., Natick. The program includes scenes and arias from operettas by Johann Strauss, Victor Herbert, and Gilbert and Sullivan. In honor of Valentine’s Day, intermission includes a complimentary champagne and chocolate tasting, followed by the Boston premiere of Offenbach’s “Pierrette and Jacquot,” translated from the French by Eve Budnick, and adapted and updated by Dan Shore. Showtime is 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers and can be purchased at www.natickarts.org.Send ideas to nancyswest@ gmail.com.