A History of the Vitamin L Project
The Vitamin L Project was and still is dedicated to encouraging positive character development in young people through uplifting, inspiring music. It all began in 1987 when Bea Flaig, a teacher friend of Jan Nigro, asked him to write some songs for elementary age children about universal human values (love, truth, peace, right action and non-violence). Jan agreed and wrote seventeen songs as a volunteer project.
There was a great deal of positive response to the songs and several people suggested that the songs should be made available to the public. So, in 1989 Jan and his wife Janice (director of Vitamin L) formed Lovable Creature Music, a small music business that would make professional quality recordings of Jan's character-building songs available to the public. They hired talented producer/arranger, Jeff Waxman, and found the singers – Cass Morgan, Curtis King, Kelli Crofton, Deborah Stoll and Tremaine Jackson, who, along with Jan would record the songs. They named the group Vitamin L. A youth chorus also sang on the recording.
A cassette tape titled "Walk a Mile" was Lovable Creature Music's first release of Vitamin L character-building songs in August 1989. It won the nationally recognized Parent's Choice Gold Award shortly after its release. Four more Vitamin L recordings of Jan's character-building songs followed. "Swingin' in the Key of L," "Every Moment," and "Sing for Dr. King! Vitamin L Songs for a Beloved Community" received recognition from Parent's Choice as well, and "Everyone's Invited" received a Parents' Council Outstanding Award. The recordings all received positive reviews in numerous publications such as School Library Journal, Booklist and Time Magazine.
Vitamin L evolved into an organization with a year-round performance group consisting of Jan and youth chorus members (ages 10–21). Vitamin L performed 1,195 concerts at schools, festivals, community events, and conferences, reaching approximately 369,000 children and adults at concerts in central New York and beyond.
Vitamin L's meaningful messages have touched the hearts of countless more children around the world through Vitamin L recordings and videos. Testimonies from parents and teachers indicate that the Vitamin L music has been and continues to be an enriching influence in the lives of many children.
When the Covid pandemic hit in March 2020, things changed for Vitamin L along with everyone else. Our concerts, rehearsals, and auditions had to be cancelled. So, we switched to music video production to get our music and messages out, and completed 15 new music videos.
After 32 years, we completed the active phase of Vitamin L in December 2021. The songs continue to reach children and people of all ages through Vitamin L's YouTube channel, and though recordings and streaming services.
Founders Jan and Janice Nigro remain forever grateful for 32 blessed years of
* We are grateful for the unique opportunity we've had to share the ideals in the Vitamin L songs.
* A giant thank you to Jeff Waxman, Vitamin L's producer/arranger extraordinaire, and to all the singers on the Vitamin L recordings.
* We are grateful that we met many wonderful people through this project.
* We loved doing the concerts, recordings and music videos.
* We loved working with hundreds of talented youth in our choruses.
* We have deep appreciation for the invaluable help of our advisory board members, many of whom stayed on the board for several years.
* We give thanks to the Center for Transformative Action, (CTA), which served as our fiscal agent for 18 years, handling many tasks that freed up our time to focus on programming. CTA helped Vitamin L with several beneficial trainings over the years, and working with their staff was always a pleasure.
* We thank all the parent and alum volunteers who helped with driving and fundraising, with a special shout out to alum Stephan Wagner, who has given us years of help with the Vitamin L website and to alumni parent Paul van der Veur, who made scrolling lyric videos for our YouTube channel.
* We thank our sound engineer John Lloyd and his wife Roxanna, who provided sound at hundreds of our concerts.
* We thank Jeff Hodges of Photosynthesis Productions and Doug Robinson of Watershed Arts for music video production.
* Vitamin L's 32 active years would not have been possible without the financial support of many individual donors, as well as years of substantial support from The Park Foundation, The Triad Foundation, The John Ben Snow Memorial Trust, Alice Saltonstall and the Middlecott Foundation, Susan and Matt Blank, The Vector Magnetics Fund of The Community Foundation of Tompkins County, The Savage Club of Ithaca, and Dr. Ira Kamp.
August 1989: "Walk a Mile" was released on cassette and received the Parents' Choice Gold Award. There were no CDs back then!
Sept. 1989: Vitamin L's 1st concert was at the Tompkins County Human Rights Commission Awards Ceremony.
Feb. 1991: The 2nd Vitamin L recording, "Everyone's Invited!" was released and received a Parents' Council Outstanding Award.
June 1992: Performance at Ithaca College stadium for 2,000 Special Olympians. Wonderful spirit, beautiful day!
1992: Vitamin L received the Tompkins County Human Rights William DeWinter Youth Award in Ithaca, N.Y.
Nov. 1992: Our 3rd recording, "Swingin' in the Key of L," was released and received a Parents' Choice Approved Award.
April 1993: Vitamin L sang at the United Nations in New York City for World Children's Day. This was deeply moving, with children from around the world sitting in the chairs of their country's United Nations Representative.
1993-1997: Yearly performances at Cornell University's Cabin Fever event, including one in which an audience member accidentally unplugged the sound system during the song "That is a Mighty Power!"
Sept. 1994: A colorful and memorable concert location: The Adirondack Hot Air Balloon Festival in Glens Falls, N.Y.
Sept. 1994: The 4th Vitamin L recording, "Every Moment!" was released with a concert at the State Theatre. This time it was on CD! It received the Parents' Choice Silver Award.
August 1996: Performance with folksinger/songwriter Pete Seeger.
1996-2006: 19 extra-fun summer concerts at Independent Lake Camp in Pennsylvania. Great audiences!
1996-2009: Many concerts & workshops at the SUNY Cortland Center for the 4th and 5th Rs (respect & responsibility) character education conferences.
1991-2019: Many Apple Harvest Festivals, Corning Arts Festivals, and Ithaca Festivals.
August 1999: 10th Birthday Concerts at the Hangar Theatre.
July 2000: Concert and workshop in St. Louis, Mo. at the national Character Plus conference.
June 2001: Concert and workshop in San Diego, Ca. at the national Community of Caring Conference.
August 2001: Concert and workshops at the St. Louis, Mo. TREND conference (Turning Resources and Energy in New Directions).
July 2002: Concert at the national American School Counselor Conference in Miami, Florida.
August 2002: Concert and workshops at the St. Louis, Mo. TREND conference.
Oct. 2002: Concert and workshop in Atlanta, Ga. at the national Character Education Partnership Conference and at a local elementary school, along with an educational trip to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Center and historical sites with the chorus.
March 2003: Concert at the Excel Youth Leadership Conference and local elementary schools in Conway, Arkansas.
March 2003: The Vitamin L Project became a project of the Center for Transformative Action (CTA), formerly known as CRESP.
July 2003: Concert and workshop at the national Community of Caring conference near Washington, D.C.
August 2004: 15th Birthday Concerts at the Hangar Theatre.
August 2004: Yolanda King, the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., had an afternoon talk and question/answer session with Vitamin L chorus members and families after seeing a Vitamin L concert earlier in the week. She spoke on many topics and shared joyful childhood memories of her father.
Sept. 2004: Vitamin L received the Tompkins County Distinguished Youth Award, given by the Tompkins County Legislature to youth who make a positive contribution to their community. "For years your kids have provided a marvelous image of what young people can do, the hope they bring to all of us, and the enthusiasm they generate."
April 2007: Vitamin L performed and was recognized with a Dr. King Community Service Award by the Governor of New York in Albany at the Dr. King Leadership Symposium, "Pathways to Peace in the Classroom and Community."
Oct. 2007: Another interesting location: performing for the Grantmakers Conference under a huge whale skeleton at the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) in Ithaca, NY.
August 2009: 20th Birthday Concerts at the Hangar Theatre.
January 2010: New York State Representative Maurice Hinchey read a thank you and appreciation of Vitamin L's 20 years of service into the permanent Congressional Record in Washington, D.C.
Feb. 2010: President Obama sent us a framed letter thanking Vitamin L for 20 years of service.
Feb. 2013: Our 5th recording, "Sing for Dr. King! Vitamin L Songs for a Beloved Community!" was released and received a Parents' Choice Recommended Award.
May 2013 – May 2019: Performed and walked at the "Walk a Mile in My Shoes" fundraising walk in Elmira, N.Y. to bring awareness to suicide prevention efforts.
Nov. 2013: Concert Celebrating Community and the Milestone of 1,000 Vitamin L Concerts at Ithaca's State Theatre, and the release of our first professional music video, "Step Up, Speak Out." One thousand "Sing for Dr. King" CDs were gifted to area 3rd graders at this time. Veteran Civil Rights activist Dorothy Cotton was a special guest speaker and singer at this concert, along with the Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers.
Oct. 2014: 25th Birthday Concerts at the Hangar Theatre.
April 2015: Veteran Civil Rights activist Dorothy Cotton met with a group of Vitamin L chorus members to discuss non-violence and how each of us can take action to create positive social change.
Feb. 2017: Ithaca, N.Y. Mayor Svante Myrick declared February 11 "Walk a Mile Day" to celebrate Vitamin L's new "Walk a Mile" video and the 30 th anniversary of this iconic song, and to honor Vitamin L and its contributions to fostering empathy and understanding through music.
Feb. 2017: A "Walk a Mile Day" event was held at Cinemapolis with several wonderful guest speakers. N.Y. State Representative Barbara Lifton spoke and presented Vitamin L with a Citation from the New York State Assembly honoring the nationally-recognized song and recognizing Vitamin L as an outstanding organization.
Sept. 2017: The Cayuga Sound Festival was hosted by Vitamin L alum Sam Harris and his band the X Ambassadors. They chose to support to several Ithaca area organizations with proceeds from this festival, including Vitamin L. Vitamin L had an information booth at the festival.
June 2019: Vitamin L's 30 th birthday was celebrated at our Ithaca Festival concert on the Ithaca Commons.
December 2021: We completed our 32+ years as an active organization with hearts full of gratitude!
To learn more, past Vitamin L newsletters have historical info about Vitamin L's work as well as some essays from Vitamin L members and alums.
May the Vitamin L music continue to spread love and goodwill and touch many people's hearts!
Vitamin L founders Jan and Janice Nigro in 1989 when Vitamin L's first recording was released
Jan and Janice Nigro in 2013 before Vitamin L's 1,000th concert celebration at the State Theater