Performer Spotlight: Peanut

 

Where did the name “Peanut” come from?3016

I've always been particular about the pronunciation of my real name, Michal - I remember being five years old and telling people...it's not Michelle! it's not Mikal! It's Michal! I grew up in Israel after that, so it wasn't a problem. Then I came back to the states In 2012 I was sitting around the student co-op with my friend in Berkeley, and we thought of it as a nickname and stage name. My friend Sarah said "I like it, cause you're little, but full of energy!". It really stuck a few months later, when a dad I know told his 4 year old daughter my name was Peanut, and her eyes lit up. And we knew.

You sings songs in several languages. What languages do you speak and when did you learn them?

I speak English, Hebrew and Spanish. I was born in Israel and Hebrew is my first language. Then we lived in SoCal for four years in the 90s and I learned English (and taught myself to read it too, (when I was 4.5, apparently). I learned some words in Spanish along the way, and started learning officially with my Argentinian Abuelita when I was 20. I learned the rest traveling in Latin America and speaking. It's not perfect, but it's pretty good. I also speak a handful of words in a handful of other languages. Nothing too crazy, but enough to make people smile, which is really fun.

What instruments do you play? What do you like about playing music?

I mainly play the ukulele, but also a little bit of guitar, piano and bass. This may be cliche, but music is universal. It's ageless and timeless and so varied and inherent. It starts with our heartbeat and grows in all directions. It conveys so much emotion, and no occasion is complete without it. When I play music, it brings people together and makes them dance and smile. It lightens hearts and brightens moods. There's hardly a better feeling than that for me.

Do you write your own songs?

I do write my own songs! I'm really good at improvising songs on the spot, which usually makes people laugh (party trick #2). If I ever want to write an actual song, I just think of someone or something. I think of what I love about them, or what they represent, or what they love. And then either on the spot, or pretty quickly thereafter, a melody/lyrics come. It took me a long time to realize this isn't something anyone can do, so I'm really grateful to be able to bring songs into the world to share.

What is your musical inspiration?

I'm a swing dancer, so a lot of my musical inspiration comes from old jazz.

What do you like best about performing for kids and their families?

That's simple: the unabashed joy that they express. Knowing that I'm able to make a little human stop crying, or start smiling, or bopping or dancing, and make them and their parents happy, is reason enough to keep doing what I'm doing.

3018 If someone wanted to become a singer, what advice would you give them?

Please, just...sing. Start! Start in the shower, on the street, in the car, when you wake up, when you go to bed. Practicing and believing in yourself is the most important thing. Not everyone is an incredible singer, but every single one of us can improve and continue improving. Vocal cords are like muscles; they need exercise and training and they'll get stronger. And no matter how good a singer you are, we all deserve to experience the joy of belting out a melody. If you're reading this, I invite you to sing.

In our new Storyteller Studio we get a chance to share our stories, and one of the ways we do that is by sharing our favorite books. What was your favorite book when you were a kid?

Shel Silverstein's book of poems, Where the Sidewalk Ends. Each poem is a story, and it's still one of my favorite books of all time. Shel in general is my ultimate inspiration. I also love Mouse Mess, it's more contemporary and adorable! <3

Where else can we find you?

I have Friday classes at The Trails cafe up in Griffith Park.

You can check out Peanut's local event list, or find her on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter @sweetlyspun

Come dance and sing along with Peanut and her ukulele at our last Kidspace Concert of the season! Peanut will be performing at 1:00 p.m. on September 10th in the Stone Hollow Amphitheater. Concert is free with museum admission. See you there!

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Anne Pierce, Art Specialist, has been with Kidspace Children’s Museum since 2010. She participated in the Master Planning committee and assisted in the development of the Imagination Workshop. As a theater professional Anne has worked for the Walt Disney Resorts, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Sid & Marty Krofft. Anne is currently serving on the board of the Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry.