Watch CBS News

East Bay Hip-Hop 'Alphabet Rockers' Nominated For Best Children's Album

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- At Fairmount Elementary School, inside the cafeteria, kids are learning a lesson, but not about their ABC's.

A group of energetic musicians stands before them, singing and dancing about the importance of standing up for those who are powerless.

They are a Grammy-nominated hip-hop group helping these kids get "woke" about the pervasive issue of social injustices.

"About racial differences, about gender bias, about immigration," said Kaitlin McGaw.

"There is privilege in this country that puts blinders up on people and we're just trying to take those blinders off." added Tommy Shepherd.

The performers are known as the Alphabet Rockers. The East Bay group is nominated for Best Children's Album at the 60th Grammy Awards.

Their album is called "Rise, Shine, #Woke" and the group's stated goal is to make music to make change.

The group was created a decade ago by a white girl from Harvard and a black musician and actor from LA.

Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Shepherd are the co-founders.

"The first time I ever got in a fight was because someone called me the "N" word," said Shepherd.

"I was like 14 when I first started thinking about what means to be white," explained McGaw.

They said with social media and television, you cannot protect your kids from the tough realities of today's world: from cyberbullying to racism. And now more than ever, they believe our children need positive messages.

One song is called "The Wall."

"When we heard our president wanted to build a wall, we had to figure out a way to joyfully speak to all those people the wall was made, designed for - and tell them we would never let that happen," said Shepherd.

During the performance, the musicians stop and ask the students for their ideas to make the world a better place. The kids get a moment to talk amongst their friends, and then a microphone is passed around to those who want to offer a solution.

A common response is the desire to standup for those who are powerless.

"When we ask them what do you want to do to change the world, they say we want to be kind. When you think about it, with all what's happening with the leadership in this country, there's not examples of what kindness is," said McGaw.

Fairmount teacher and librarian Maureen Sullivan invited the group to perform in front of 2 assemblies.

"I really love their positive message and to the children and the community," said Sullivan.

After the shows, the performers were swamped with autograph and selfie requests.

As for the show, the kids and their parents got the message.

"Be proud of yourself, say your name out loud" said 10-year-old Sofia Aviles.

"It's important that we prepare our children to defend themselves and to defend other who cannot defend themselves,"

The Alphabet Rockers and the children who sang on the Grammy nominated album are all in New York and will attend the Grammy Awards on Sunday. They have performed at a local School and earlier Saturday, performed at a concert with other nominees for the Best Children's Album.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.