Alphabet Rockers crew Makers

Alphabet Rockers: Kids’ Music Group Dedicated to Justice, Kindness and Rocking Out

What do we want the soundtrack of our kids' childhoods to be?

This is the question Tommy Shepherd and Kaitlin McGaw – founders of justice-oriented kids’ music group Alphabet Rockers – ask themselves over and over. As award-winning artists and parents, they know hip-hop can be a catalyst for conversation, connection and a culture of freedom. That’s why they make music that gets kids thinking about how to be good humans.

Thousands of children in the Bay Area and beyond have become “rock stars” thanks to the workshops and events hosted by the Alphabet Rockers crew. Little girls jump up on stage to learn how the DJ spins. Nine-year-old boys come together across cultures and grab the mic, rapping “If you don’t look like me, will you still have my back? Yup!”


Tommy Shepherd and Kaitlin McGaw
McGaw and Shepherd. Photo courtesy of Alphabet Rockers.


Kids of all cultural backgrounds find a home with Alphabet Rockers, who sing that “these walls can’t stop the love – these walls can’t hold us down.” When they throw an intergenerational dance party, families of all shades come together singing “Let the sunshine in…Shine! In my beautiful skin.”

“Alphabet Rockers is important music … it creates the culture that is the reality of the world we want,” says W. Kamau Bell, TV host and comedian.


Kids Music Group
Photo courtesy of Alphabet Rockers


Their newest album – “Rise, Shine, #Woke” – tackles big topics like bias and inclusivity. They’re of the feather that the more conversations we can have with kids about, say, racism, the easier it will be to face and transform them in life. The album just dropped and can be found on Amazon.

“Social justice can be taught at the same time kids are learning to tie their shoes and sing the alphabet,” McGaw explains. “Lives depend on all of us rising up and speaking out,” Tommy adds. “This album does that–it brings joy to tough topics.”

Don’t miss their latest music video “Shine“, which was just released.

If you’re down for music as a catalyst for change, you should read our piece on Building Beats

LGBTQ characters in book Makers

The Maiden Voyage, an LGBTQ Children’s Book

In a land far, far away, women fell in love with other women and it was perfectly alright.

The second children’s book in an inclusive series about LGBTQ adventurers debuts in June 2018, after their November Kickstarter campaign raised $4,000 more than their $40,000 goal. Readers have been waiting for this story for a very long time.

The Maiden Voyage is a fairytale following a fisherman’s daughter, Ru, who is given a treasure map by her father and joins a crew of sailors, captained by the charismatic Freya. Throughout their adventures and escapades together, the two fall in love.

“It’s important for young people to feel included, that they have a place in the world and something they can relate to in Maiden Voyage” co-author Jaimee Poipoi told NBC News. “If they can identify themselves within a story, that empowers them to be who they are.”

The book comes on the heels of Promised Land – an illustrated love story between a prince and a farmer – created by Maiden Voyage’s other co-authors Adam Reynolds and Chaz Harris. The book was also funded through a Kickstarter campaign. A Kindle edition of this story can be found on Amazon.


promised land LGBT Childrens book


A 2011 Florida State University study found that children’s books are severely lacking female characters, let alone LGBTQ characters. Male characters, unsurprisingly, dominated.

The Maiden Voyage is trying to turn these statistics on their heads, highlighting brave and badass LGBTQ and POC characters in their books.

“Girls need to grow up knowing they can be a powerful queen, a brave sea captain, or anything else they set their minds to,” Harris told Upworthy.

For these three authors, giving children representation in the media will offer them the confidence to explore who they truly want to become when they grow up.

“We invite you to step aboard and join us on this journey to bring a little more kindness and love into the world,” their Kickstarter reads. “Because love is love, and everyone deserves to live happily ever after.”


LGBT Children's book authors
Maiden Voyage authors Adam Reynolds, Chaz Harris, and Jaimee Poipoi. Photo: Maiden Voyage Kickstarter.

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