The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

October 14, 2013

Swindells publish children’s songbook 20 years in making

By Karen Middleton

— Do butterflies cry? That’s a reasonable question for a 4-year-old. But when the child’s parents are the popular singer-musician-songwriter duo of Bill and Tina Murrah Swindell it becomes fodder for a children’s song.

The Swindells, along with their daughter, Kacey Swindell, now 27, have published “Sing Along Songs,” illustrated by Roddie Lott of Decatur.

It was a collaboration begun more than 20 years ago. The Swindells are known for their work with the popular dance band, Valley Cats, and the female gospel group, Sister Grace.

“Bill asked me awhile back if I was ever going to do anything with this beautiful artwork and the songs we had written, so I got in touch with Roddie Lott and bought the paintings from him and went ahead with getting it published,” said Tina.

“It’s been a long time on my back burner and I’m glad to get it off.”

The songbook, which includes a pocketed CD of the singalong songs with Bill Swindell playing backup on guitar and keyboard and singing harmony to Tina, is available at Pablo’s on Market

“We’re going to have a book signing and we hope to coordinate it with the Storytelling Festival and organize a children’s singalong to go with it,” said Tina.

Tina said she places the birth of the project as being at the dinner table when Kacey was a tot of 3 or 4.

“We could never get her to eat her vegetables,” she said. “We were in the dining room — and I can see her now in her highchair at the end of the table. I sang to her, ‘Better eat your carrots and your roast beef, too,’ and Bill chimed in with ‘Yum, yum in your tum, tum, too.’

“It kind of evolved from there.”

Once the couple wrote and composed the songs, which include such titles as “Swing, Swing, Swing”; “Rain Falling”; “Yum Yum in my Tum Tum Tum”; “Chasing My Shadow”; “Flowerbed the Tree”; and “Cars and Trucks,” they approached a good friend and artist, Roddie Lott, who then lived in Athens.

Lott illustrated the book using Kacey Swindell and his son, Sam, who is the same age, as his models. Once the project lost steam, the illustrations sat unused in his attic for nearly 25 years.

Tina said that years ago she pitched the project to Random House Publishing.

“Might as well start at the top,” she said. “Well, Random House called and the woman said it had gotten as far as the ‘round table’ level, which apparently is a group of the final decision makers. While they said they really liked it, they suggested I pursue it with a smaller publisher.”

So, after all these years, Tina decided to go with self-publishing.

The News Courier will publish the time for the upcoming book signing at Pablo’s on Market.