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LYRICS: Two Songs

Two-time Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke commissioned Todd to collaborate with two composers on her 2022 album "How Do I Find You" (Pentatone). The album features all new works about the Covid-19 pandemic from 17 composers in the 40-and-under set.

"Risk Not One" is a poem from Todd's fourth poetry collection, Someday the Plan of a Town, and was arranged as an art song by Matt Boehler, who has collaborated with Todd on previous projects.

... Quit your comforts. Face the smoke.

Use your fears to file your knives.

Risk not one but all your lives.

"(A Bad Case of) Kids" was written specifically for the Cooke project as a comic cabaret number, and was arranged by Jamaican-American composer Andrew Marshall.

... Remember camp?

Remember school?

They were gone all day!

That was so cool.

Now it’s just me,

teacher, janitor, nurse.

I do it all,

and every day worse (you get what you pay for). ...

Todd wrote the text after commiserating on a phone call with Cooke about the unique difficulties of parenting during the pandemic.

Todd Boss is magic.

— Sasha Cooke

It is an astounding collection. ...The settings are either tonal and pretty

or comic and jaunty, with long melodic lines that let [Sasha's] voice breathe.

There’s Shaw’s achingly beautiful title track and Andrew Marshall’s witty

impersonation of a cabaret standard, “(A Bad Case of) Kids.” Cooke sounds

fabulous, and the songs acknowledge the pandemic in wry, raw, or

gently insightful ways without sounding tragic.

— Oussama Zahr, The New Yorker

The album's world premiere concerts took place at San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall and Baltimore's Shriver Hall. The album received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album, and was noticed by The New Yorker, The New York Times, Opera Wire, and Opera Culture.

I love writing on commission, especially when I have a personal connection with the commissioner. "(A Bad Case of) Kids" would never have been written if Sasha hadn't happened to mention her struggles with quarantine parenting. I hung up the phone wanting to give her an outlet for those mixed feelings. I wanted to give her an opportunity to laugh at them, in community with others. Her willingness to bring these songs to life testifies to her artistry and humanity.


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