Commander Salamander Explores the Healing Power of Toothbrushes and Salads. It's Local!

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Lizza Connor
New Dallas resident Lizza Connor is a mom on a musical mission. This former Nashville songwriter is branching out from her usual country and folk genre to write children's music. Connor's new album Commander Salamander contains 13 whimsical songs that encourage healthy lifestyle for children through good nutrition, physical activity, and self esteem. Connor's album was officially released this week.

How do you like Dallas so far?

We love Dallas. We moved here about five months ago and we have found it to be such a great place to live. The people here are so friendly. I was nervous about leaving Nashville because there were great creative people all around, but so far people have reached out and I have been able to plug in to various arts organizations.

How does the music scene compare to Nashville?

Nashville is more of a solo place for the music scene. I learned early on you have to be self contained because everyone is wearing many hats within the roles of the music business so you have to be able to do it all. Nashville is full of super creative people and is more of a solo town where Dallas has more of a collaborative vibe, and less competitive. People are willing to help you out. I've talked with several people within the arts and they are always giving me advice like 'you should talk to this person' or 'you should go here for that'. It's great that people here seem to be more open and collaborative with each other.

How long have you been writing music?

I have been writing since I was 15. I had the Aha! moment when Vince Gill played at a benefit concert for my dad, who was running a political campaign at the time. He [Gill] heard I liked music and invited me on stage to sing a duet to his hit, I Still Believe in You and I had a moment where I realized that's what I want to do for the rest of my life. Right after that I went home, started taking guitar lessons, and began writing music.

Have you always wanted to write children's songs?

Actually, I've written songs for adults for the last 12 years in Nashville within the country spectrum. I wrote songs about heartbreak, whiskey, and Jesus, your typical country folk songs, and I still do. However, since I had my kids I went to writing about salamanders and slippery noodles. As a mother now I have an endless source of inspiration from my kids. I never thought I would try it until I had my own children, then the songs just started popping up.

Can you tell me a specific instance that inspired a song?

Oh yes, the song from my album titled Miracle. I started writing that when my son was 10 months old and he was in his highchair completely covered in sweet potatoes and green beans. I looked at him and had this revelation that it's so amazing he's mine, and it's such a miracle. And then I started writing the song for the album.

What do kids like best about your music?

I think they like anything with a rhythm or a beat. They want to move, dance, and have fun so most of the songs I sing at live shows will be more rhythm driven. That's unless I'm putting them to sleep, then I stick to a lullaby. (she laughs)

How does Commander Salamander differ from your previous albums?

My first album Runaway was put in the alternative country genre because it was more acoustic driven. Commander Salamander is a mix of all styles. It has pop, jazz, and a lot more electric guitar work. The content is less adult than I used to write, since the content is for kids zero to eight. There are songs to help remind kids to brush their teeth, and take a bath; songs that encourage a healthy lifestyle for kids and good nutrition as well.

What do you hope to achieve from this album?

To encourage kids to live healthy lifestyles. There's a huge child obesity epidemic and my husband works in public health so we talk about it a lot. My goal is to make music with a message. There's not a lot that combines music and methods so it's a unique way to give kids a song with a catchy beat with an intrinsic teaching quality.

What did you like best about making this album?

I made it in Nashville with great friends of mine, and I had a blast recording it with them. I had a great sound board, and we had so much fun making a children's album that was uptempo with funky sounds that kids would enjoy.

Will you be playing anywhere locally to promote your upcoming album?

I have been playing a lot since moving to Dallas. My next show will be March 8th 3:30 p.m. at Monster Yogurt in Casa Linda. I will be playing again on March 23rd at the Galleria Dallas. They are both free public shows so anyone is welcome to come and enjoy. I'm really excited to share music with people out here, and if anyone is interested they can listen to the whole album online and contact me for questions about upcoming performances at lizzaconnor.com

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