The Lullaby Project: Parents-to-be write lullabies for their unborn babies

Lullaby Project helps moms-to-be through song

In the time spent waiting for a sonogram appointment, expectant parents at Jacobi Medical Center did something that blew their minds: they wrote their unborn baby a lullaby. The experience is given to parents once a week at the Bronx hospital, reports CBS News' Michelle Miller. 
"He'll listen to it as a baby ... and he'll always remember that it's both of us, like what we feel and how we thought about him before he was born. You know, that's always going to be like a family thing," said one father-to-be.

Their teachers, Carnegie Hall musicians Marika Hughes and Deidre Rodman Struck, begin the process by asking parents to compose a letter to their child, which is used for the lyrics. Then, together, they practice, practice, practice. In a matter of a few hours, they produced melodies for three moms and a dad, personalizing each to the parent's pitch, passion, even language.

Carnegie Hall musicians Marika Hughes and Deidre Rodman Struck working with an expectant mother at the Jacobi Medical Center  CBS News

The Lullaby Project is the baby of Carnegie Hall's Thomas Cabaniss.

"When I was a young musician in New York and I had no money I had a friend whose wife was expecting, they were going to have a child. And I decided since I didn't have anything else to give them that I would write a lullaby for the baby," he said. "I loved writing the lullaby. I loved giving it as a gift."

Cabannis thought composing a lullaby would be good for first time parents, especially those insecure over being too young or having to go it alone. In the last 6.5 years his project has produced more than 800 lullabies. Songwriting, he says, is a gift of healing and connection that's expanded to shelters and correctional facilities.

Thomas Cabaniss   CBS News

This year, those songs have turned into a professionally produced album featuring some of the biggest voices in music including Patti LuPone, Dianne Reeves, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rhiannon Giddens and Fiona Apple. 
One of the songs is "Peace," written at Jacobi Medical Center five years ago by Tamilles Fernandez for her son, Levy.

"I was just excited to have a song that I could show him from when I was carrying him," Fernandez said.

And she's proud that her words may one day help spark a movement. 

"What would it mean if having a lullaby was just part of the birth process," Cabbanis said. "We're hopeful that the partners who come together with us will ... help us create a kind of lullaby movement, 'cause that would be amazing."