Stephen Goldberg, creator of BoyintheShade, has written and performed music since the age of thirteen. He has written and recorded hundreds of musical pieces in all genres, including commercials, promotions and scores for Fisher Price, Mattel, Nickelodeon, PBS and Court TV.
Although he didn’t set out to be a children’s performer, looking back on his career it almost seems inevitable. Steve has been working with children since graduating from college in 1992, first as a teacher and now as the principal of a suburban public school. Musically, his interests have ranged from singing in choirs and playing in bands to writing, producing and performing in musical theater. He counts among his musical influences Gershwin, Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell and the Smiths.
Steve was inspired to write for young children after the birth of his daughter, when he found that his time in the recording studio increasingly was spent on concepts and music geared toward kids. Taking a page from Schulz, Henson and Silverstein, Steve drew on his musical talent, educational background and experience as a parent to create the original concepts for BoyintheShade.
BoyintheShade’s first release in 2006, Riding My First Pony, was inspired by Steve’s daughter. The first pressing of 500 CDs was distributed to friends, family and colleagues. “The CD was extremely well received,” recalls Steve. “The children reacted positively, they couldn’t get enough! And the parents appreciated the engaging vocals, rich instrumentation and positive messages.” Word of mouth began to spread in the band’s New York area home base.
“We were so encouraged by the positive response that we decided to make a commitment to build something remarkable.” explains Steve. “I went back to work to complete the story and underlying themes for BoyintheShade, developing the five characters and writing a book.” Steve’s wife Christine, a PhD child psychologist, helped refine the characters and underlying messages.
Steve also tapped his childhood friend, Evan Brandwein, to help create a live show unlike anything else in family entertainment. “Evan is a technical wizard with many years of experience producing live entertainment,” Steve says. “With his creativity and technical know-how, we were able to take the live show to new levels.”
The live show made its debut in April 2007. It featured Steve (playing the character of “Boy”) on guitar and lead vocals; Dana Gold (playing the character of “Numbers”) on keyboards; Tony Sion (playing the character of “Shi”) on bass; Joe Brady (playing the character of “Trouble”) on drums, and Jessica Taffet (playing the character of “Daisy”) on violin. Jessica was replaced by Melissa Tong in 2008. The unique style, easy-to- follow story line and combination of live music and video was an instant hit with the kids!
“The talent of the performers wasn’t lost on the parents or the performing arts presenters. They recognized that this was high-quality entertainment for children,” notes their agent. “All of the songs and characters were created to appeal to every day kids in today’s world. The music and storytelling lets kids connect on many levels. They can dance and sing with the music, learn from the stories and relate to their favorite character. We noticed after each show groups of children were running up to their favorite character for autographs.”
In January 2008 Thomas Conti joined the team as art director. Thom’s extensive experience as an illustrator and graphic designer brought another creative perspective to BoyintheShade.
Be the Tree, BoyintheShade’s second studio album, was released in March 2008 to critical raves. Working Mother magazine called it “great music to teach and inspire kids – all songs are mom-approved!” Cookie magazine wrote: “This five-person band has assembled a lively collection of kid-pop tunes. The grand instrumentation (violins, trumpets, flutes) provides a Broadway-soundtrack feel.”
CDs began to sell briskly and word of mouth continued to spread in the New York area as the BoyintheShade sound stood out among other children’s music. Tracks on this release focused on appreciating nature, friendship and self-esteem. The song ‘Playin’ in the Bathtub’ was bestowed a 2008 Children’s Music Web award.
The band made its television debut in June 2008 on New York’s NBC Today. BoyintheShade received a break when this two-minute segment was selected by Taxi TV to air on the video screens in 13,000 New York City taxi cabs for one week. “I received calls from people I hadn’t spoken to in over 15 years,” says Steve. “The exposure opened a lot of doors for us.” The band capped off an outstanding summer with a performance in world-famous Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan.
BoyintheShade will continue to perform in the U.S. in 2011-2012. They are currently working on illustrations for a new children’s book.
Stephen Goldberg ("Boy") - Lead Vocals and Guitar
Dana Gold (“Numbers”) – Keyboards and Vocals
Dana started singing and playing the piano at the age of eight. She went on to study music education in college and has been teaching music to children of all ages for many years. Dana is currently a middle school music director where she conducts an award winning vocal group.
Melissa Tong (“Daisy”) - Violin and Vocals
An active freelance musician, Melissa is co-Artistic Director of the Artemis Chamber Ensemble, and has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and Boston Symphony Hall. Collaborations with tap artist Savion Glover led to tours throughout the U.S. and Tokyo. When not performing or teaching, she can often be found fiddling away at a bluegrass jam.
Nick Gianni (“Shi”) - Bass Guitar and Vocals
Nick began performing at the age of seventeen. Throughout his career Nick has had the distinction of recording and performing with many great musicians, including: Dr John, Marshall Allen, Luther Thomas, Kenny Wollesen, Daniel Carter, Hugh McCracken and Brazilian Girls. In addition, Nick has toured extensively throughout Europe and Australia performing on festival stages, appearing on Good Morning Australia and MTV Europe. More recent accomplishments include performances at Central Park Summerstage, the Willisau Jazz Festival, Lincoln Center, and a week long artist residency at Mass MOCA facilitating instrument design workshops.
Joe Brady (“Trouble”) - Drums
Joe started playing drums at age twelve. He played in rock bands and then switched to the theater, playing in the Broadway shows Miss Saigon, Urinetown, and Chicago. Some off-Broadway shows include Shout! The Mod Musical and Tony-n-Tina's Wedding. Additionally, he has played at Tada! a children's theater in Manhattan and is also an elementary school music teacher.