NEW YORK (WTNH) — Talk about turning a negative into a positive. Not only did Allegra Levy beat COVID, but her song about handwashing won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest.
Her inspiration? Her young niece.
“I was with my niece, who was 19 months at the time, quarantining in West Hartford,” she said. “I was just singing, playing my ukulele for her, and I was like, ‘Wash your hands. This is cool, I’ll strike this little ditty,’ and, she seems to respond to it.”
As a young girl growing up in West Hartford, Levy listened to The Beatles in the family car.
“I have always been inspired by The Beatles.”
Levy, who went on to study jazz, vocal performance at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, was first inspired a little closer to home.
“At Hall High School, they have incredible jazz program… I was very inspired by the music program in West Hartford.”
She started writing songs at a young age, or as she put it, “I was always annoying my family by singing around the house as a kid around the house.”
Before settling in New York City, Levy did a jazz artist residency in Hong Kong. The experience had an added bonus.
“I actually met my husband there, and, we now live together in New York,” she said.
New York was one of the country’s “hot spots” when the coronavirus pandemic began. Levy was performing in the city.
“I actually got it pretty early on. I basically contracted it from doing a gig and hanging out. From the beginning, I’ve always wanted everyone is getting the information they need, and protecting themselves.”
Soon, children will head back to school. It could be in-person, it could be a hybrid model. Levy wants to do all that she can to make sure they do so safely.
“How is a 3-year-old or 4-year-old going to know how to socially distance.We started to learn the alphabet through song, so, why not start to learn our health protocol through songs as well.”
Now, she’s hoping that adults will also put her message to good use.
“There have been debates about whether you wear your mask, or you wash your hands or not. And, I think if you see a video with these cute little kids doing it. Then, no matter who you are, you might be inspired to stay safe.”
Levy, who has her fourth album coming out on Steeplechase on Saturday, has been trying to shift into songwriting more with performance opportunities limited right now.
She said winning the contest was “the greatest gift.”