On our last morning walk of 2021, my husband and I were paying close attention to the steps we were taking on the part slushy, part icy pavement of the track around St. Joseph’s College athletic fields (a great community resource, by the way). A couple was walking towards us and, at the last minute, I recognized one of the walkers, who was also looking down and walking carefully. It was our state’s beloved children’s singer and songwriter, Rick Charette.

On our next lap around the track, we caught up with him and his wife, so I reintroduced myself to him. We have crossed paths in our professional lives many times. Earlier in my career, I was a first grade teacher. He performed at our school, and I bought all of his albums, (yes, vinyl)!

I used his songs in my curriculum to teach everything from basic concepts to sign language, and from initial consonant sounds to sight words. I would write the lyrics on chart paper and, pointing to each word, my students and I learned to sign, read and enjoy his songs. Some were silly and catchy, others were serious and thoughtful, but all of Rick’s songs are fun and memorable. So memorable, I guess, that I recently learned that my twenty-nine year old daughter, who in her younger years, attended all of the Christmas concerts he performed at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, is now singing those rollicking tunes to her own baby girl. I wanted to share this with Rick, even though I’m sure he must realize what an impact his music has made in the lives of so many children here in Maine and beyond.

During the decorating of their Christmas tree, my daughter sang Rick Charette’s beautiful Christmas Tree to my 7-month-old granddaughter, Grace. When we put her in her sink-sized bathtub where she loves to splash, kick, and play, we changed the words in one of his songs from Bubble Gum to Bubble Bath and then to Tubby Tub and improvised from there keeping the tune and the rhythm the same. My daughter pulled out her phone and logged on to Youtube to play other songs by Rick Charette that she remembered and loved from her childhood. His songs are included in the lullabies that put Grace to sleep at night and during her car rides to day care. Who can possibly keep from tapping their feet or dancing in their seat to Baxter the Bear or I Love Mud?

Rick told me that he has stopped performing for children and is enjoying more time at home with his family. He likes to get outside to exercise and enjoys chatting with parents and grandparents who still love and listen to his playful music. Those students and children who have attended Rick Charette’s concerts in school auditoriums or at our state’s annual summer festivals are very fortunate. They have lots of fun memories and access to Rick’s enduring music and timeless lyrics that they can teach to the next generation of Mainers.

— Special to the Telegram

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