...To play until you're breathless. To laugh until it hurts. To hug until you know you're loved. Now, you're Happy as Clams! Each song on this album is fun for the whole 'Clamily!' With accompanying games, movement, and just plain SILLINESS! Lena Pennino-Smith of Long Island, New York, and her friends and family welcome you to join their CLAM CLAN in this award winning album!
There was a rule in LENA’s house: no singing at the table.
If that was not the rule, Lena never would have finished her mother’s delicious spaghetti and clam sauce. And that would have been a travesty in the Pennino household.
But, now that she is older, she sings at the table, writes songs and has published her first album for families: “Happy as Clams.” The compilation of 13 new songs share Lena’s love of a good story, musical games and theatrical humor.
In 2013, The Long Island Children’s Museum invited her to write an interactive musical for families… and she hasn’t stopped.
Lena’s journey into family music began when her son was born: she wanted to share something special with her baby, Jonah. She began to write useful songs to engage him: “Lullabye-bye” quieted him before bedtime; when he learned to walk, the family would play “Stacking Blocks” to help practice his balance. (It’s a musical game similar to “Ring-around-the-Rosie.”); and “Hugh Stinkfoot” taught him to blame his father when something didn’t smell right.
Lena has a background in journalism — writing for various newspapers on Long Island, NY as a reporter and proofreader. She has served as a full-time youth minister, church cantor, co-director of communications for the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville and now performs and writes music and musicals for families at libraries, festivals and The Long Island Children’s Museum. When she began writing children’s music, she was the mommy of a preschooler and a baby girl, now a teen and a tween!
Recording “Happy as Clams: the album” was a team effort, including a cast of 20 performers and musicians, including her talented piano-playing husband, Brian Smith. (The couple met while performing in local children’s theatre productions.) Lena and Brian host a party every year on “New Year’s Eve-Eve” where friends share musical creations, audition pieces for shows or just favorite tunes. As she wrote new songs, she would try them out at the party. When she recorded “Happy as Clams,” it only felt natural to include her “musical family” in the process…. which she has now dubbed her “Clamily.”
(The Hello Song, Captain in Hugh Stinkfoot, Welcome to This World, It’s Not Goodbye), first and foremost, is married to the songwriter and daddy to Clare and Jonah, the inspiration behind most of this album. He is also the guy responsible for the vocal arrangements (Welcome to This World, Lullabye-bye) and piano arrangements on “Happy as Clams.” When Lena started writing musicals, Brian arranged the piano and vocal score, as well as directed the productions, served as music director and even originated the role of the fisherman in “Happy as Clams: The Musical” and Prince Tre, the male lead, in “The Princess Frog: A Musical Fairytale.” He spends days teaching math to middle school kids, and the rest of his time is shared among family and the stage. Brian has spent his life performing as an actor and singer in many venues throughout Long Island and NYC, and he has been directing school and camp productions for the past 25(+) years. Music is a passion for him, and it is what brought him and Lena together, in a production of Peter Pan (He was Captain Hook and Lena was his pirate “wench”… and their ship sails on to this day, with first mates Jonah and Clare.)