Now that she’s a mom, Alicia Keys knows that books, music and art have the makings of cool kids’ play — especially in the digital world. That’s why the singer and songwriter launched a new animated children’s app, The Journals of Mama Mae and LeeLee ($4) for the iPad, iPhone and iTouch.
“Right around the time I had Egypt, I realized I wanted to get into the children’s space. I felt like it would be such an interesting thing to have music span different cultures and sounds,” Keys tells PEOPLE.
Courtesy Bento Box Interactive, Inset: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic
For the immersive storytelling experience, the musical mom partnered with fellow parents DJ Walton and Jessica Walton, whom she noted were telling their own kids creative bedtime stories with cool multicultural themes.
And the app’s main characters (a young New York City girl named LeeLee and the wise Mama Mae) were inspired by the musician’s special relationship with her grandmother, whom Keys calls “a big influence in my life … Grandmothers are such a powerful force in any grandchild’s life.”
In LeeLee’s interactive world, kids can read family stories like “Blue Moon,” which centers around the very relatable topic of fitting in, play piano, draw and write in a journal, and listen to Keys’ original songs like “Follow the Moon” and “Unlock Yourself” that encourage kids to follow their dreams — and perhaps even discover a new talent.
“Journaling was a big part of my life growing up. I was really able to express myself, and that probably led me to songwriting in some way,” the Grammy Award winner explains.
And when it comes time to read to her 2-year-old son, Keys says books like Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site are currently on heavy rotation at home. “Goodnight Moon is a favorite, and he’s in love with every car, bus, plane or truck he can find,” she says.
– Brooke Showell