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Alan Cunningham: Press

Ottawa music teacher releases collection of songs for children.

Alan Cunningham is ushering in spring with music.

The Eugene Field and Eisenhower elementary schools music teacher has just released his second collection of children’s songs called “Colors All Around” and has a concert planned.

“It’s just a collection of crazy songs,” Cunningham, who began teaching at Pomona and Appanoose schools in 1981, said.

Cunningham finds inspiration for his music from school and at home. Each song has its own story, he said.

The title track he wrote for a teacher at school to mark Dr. Suess’ birthday. He took the colors from a Dr. Suess book and wrote the song.

“Colors All Around” has a personal note. It was the last song he talked to his mother about before she died from cancer.

His mother was an artist, and growing up he always remembered watching his mother paint or sculpt. The song is a mixture of art and music, Cunningham said.

Two school favorites on the album are “Loose Tooth” and “Wiggly Waggly Jack.” The tooth song was inspired by a first grade girl who came into the classroom with a loose tooth. They made up the chorus on the spot. A year later she asked about the song, so that night he found the chorus in his notes and wrote the song.

“The RV Song” is about a family vacation to Washington to see the redwood trees and the ocean. The old RV was the chosen vehicle for several memorable family vacations, Cunningham said.

A photo of it is behind the CD on his collection. Instead of song lyrics Cunningham decided to list the story or inspiration behind each song.

During the summer he performs as a storyteller/singer at libraries across Kansas, Missouri and Colorado. He said he always is asked about his Web site after various performances. He plans to have a Web site, www.alancunninghamkidsongs.com running by March.

The beginning of March has additional meaning for Cunningham.

“My birthday is March 2 and my wife asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday,” he said. “I told her that I wanted to put on a concert.”

Cunningham said he has lots of songs he has written over the years that people hadn’t heard.

Since he is turning 50 this year Cunningham is calling his March 1 concert the “The Last Night Before I’m Over the Hill” concert.

“I’m excited by this,” Cunningham, who has enjoyed music since he was 4, said.

It will be from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, Fourth and Hickory streets, Ottawa.

Cunningham will play an assortment of music including country and western, rock and Christian. The Barnyard Boys will play back-up on the country songs and the church’s praise group will join him on the Christian songs. Other friends will join in as well, he said.

“I really enjoy sharing my music and watching kids enjoy music.”