HARVARD -- Jay Mankita, singer, songwriter, guitarist and activist, travels the country in his "veggie voyager" performing songs for kids about healthy food, ecology and animals.
He is making a comeback appearance in Harvard on Sept. 17.
Mankita has performed for over 30 years and has been recognized worldwide for his playful and educational music. He was even nominated for a 2011 Grammy Award for his CD, "Healthy Food for Thought."
Prior to performing with several well known artists, including Pete Seeger, David Bromberg, Leon Russell, Tom Paxton and Paul Winter, Mankita began his music education at the age of 9, but was "uninspired." He began playing extensively 10 years later when he dove into what had become a passion.
As far as music education, he discovered informal ways of learning how to write and play music. "I'm a relatively unschooled musician," Mankita said. "I never learned how to read music, and I don't have much theory either, other than what I have picked up here and there, and from playing, of course. I've got a decent ear though, and I enjoy playing so much, that I never let (my lack of music education) slow me down," Mankita said.
Although he performs about many topics, Mankita confesses that he learned most of what he sings about outside of school. His work as a fundraiser for labor and environmental groups inspired much of what he sings about.
He has gone on to perform for both adults and children in his genre of "Kindie Americana." "Kindie" is a kid's version of Indie music, "Basically, it means an independent style of children's music," Mankita said.
Mankita performed at the Village Nursery School earlier this year and is looking forward to being back in Harvard to perform at the Library.
And what is this "veggie voyager?" It is a Dodge Sprinter van that he has converted to run on waste vegetable oil, or recycled vegetable oil from restaurants, and filtered. "I do so much driving and thought I could make less pollution with an alternative energy vehicle, while teaching about different choices everywhere I go, and it's felt good," Mankita said.
Mankita performs around the Northeast and uses his alternative energy vehicle as a means to get to each location where he sings funny songs about healthy, eco-friendly topics. Mankita will be performing on Sept. 17 in the Children's Room at the Public Library at 10:30 a.m. Pre-registration is required by calling 978-456-2381.
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