My name is Jesse Norell, and I'm a musician from Minneapolis.
Why are you recording a children’s album?
My wife, Keri, and I have two amazing children: Tyler (8) and Alyssa (6). Alyssa has Down syndrome and survived two heart surgeries before age 3. In March of 2022 I released an album called Aorta Borealis, which detailed the trials of her heart problems and the joys of finally having a thriving kiddo with Down syndrome. Alyssa and I were interviewed on WCCO4 News, Fox9 News, and Good Morning America. The number one question I was asked was, “Does Alyssa sing on the album?” She did not, but I’m excited to announce my forthcoming children’s album, tentatively titled “Raising a Ruckus” which will heavily feature both of my kids’ voices and original songs that we wrote while having fun together.
What do you hope to accomplish?
1. Raise Down syndrome awareness.
My daughter is particularly fun and cute (in my completely biased opinion). The more I can show other people can see what life is like with her, the more I think I can change some people’s negative perceptions surrounding Down syndrome.
2. Make an album that both kids and adults will enjoy.
In my house, finding a children’s album that parents can tolerate is like gold. This album may sound funky, pensive, or intense, all while we sing some silly lyrics I wrote with my kids. Very few people will be able to make it through the album without smiling!
Will you make more music videos with the kids?
Yes, we will make videos along the way for the new album as well!
How many songs have been written so far?
I have finished 5 demo songs already and sent them over to an incredible professional drummer named Chris Fleming. Another 10+ songs are waiting to be recorded.
Why do you need money to make this?
Aorta Borealis took me 2 years to finish. I raised $6,000 in donations but spent over $10,000 on it when all was said and done. I’m hoping to raise enough to cover my costs this time around. Compared to other musical projects, this is a pretty tight budget.
What will it sound like?
Below is a music video that features the whole family (including 4-year-old Alyssa if you listen carefully). It’s a re-imagining of “Leftovers” by Alyssa’s favorite band, Koo Koo Kango Roo.
Any amount you can donate would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support of the arts, music, and children - both typical and with special needs.
Photos credit: Emily Woodburn Photography