Singer Nathalia performs bilingual children songs at Roswell Youth Day celebration

Colombian-born singer/songwriter Nathalia Palis will perform children's songs in Spanish and English at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 10/8, 1:30 to 3:30 pm. (Courtesy of Joanne Leung Photography)

The city of Roswell celebrates its annual Youth Day tomorrow. The festivities contain everything from a parade to arts and crafts to live performances. As part of the celebration this year, the Colombian-born singer-songwriter and educator Nathalia Palis will perform her lively blend of children’s songs in Spanish and English at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, from 1:30 to 3:30 pm.

Palis joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom ahead of her Youth Day performance, to talk about her dual role as musical source of inspiration and educator in culture and language. 

Interview highlights follow below.

Music as a tool with many uses, from therapy to learning:

“My background in music therapy is definitely an inspiration, or just an influence, in the way I create my music. I’ve been working with children ever since I graduated from college, and I’m always having to create songs for the clients that I was working with, and as I was teaching in early childhood, I was also making up songs for the little ones. But the bilingual aspect of my songs began when I had my own children, and I thought music was the best way to incorporate my rhythm and my culture and my language,” said Palis.

“Everything about me and my experience, from my culture and my country and my music, my experience as a parent, and the way I observe children in play as a music therapist and as a licensed marriage/family therapist is kind of what helps me write songs. And they can be viewed from the point of view of a parent or the point of view of a child, but just trying to capture the entire experience. And all of it is just blended, and they just appear naturally, organically, as I’m writing. It’s just; a song just appears out of nowhere.”

Palis’ original song “Dia de los Muertos,” approaching the subject of death:

“Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican festivity. The most interesting part is the fact that in Colombia, we don’t celebrate Dia de los Muertos. It’s also celebrated in Guatemala. But living in Los Angeles for a long time and having so many Mexican friends, I fell in love with this celebration of life. Because Dia de los Muertos, even though it says ‘day of the dead,’ it’s a celebration of the life of those who are no longer with us,” said Palis. “Approaching it that way, the lyrics in my song say ‘We await you with open arms,’ and ‘We remember you, and you continue to live in our memories.’ So they’re never gone, because we love them so much.”

About Palis’ new album “Mil Colores,” or, “A Thousand Colors” in English:

“That’s exactly what the album is, because it features a variety of Latin-American rhythms, and rock instruments and jazz arrangements, and because I’m Colombian I bring my traditional genres that I grew up with, but my husband produces, and he brings his jazz background and his rock and pop American background.”

She went on, “The inspiration to all the songs was basically to empower little ones, or children and families, one, to have fun together; to listen to music together. I try to be a bridge between ages… but also a bridge between cultures. Because I want the entire family to be able to listen to some Latin rhythms and recognize them, but also some American or world rhythms that they can also find comforting because they recognize them as well. And in terms of the themes of the album, I just wanted to come back to the joy of playing and being a child.”

On Palis’ early childhood music program,“First Start Music:”

“It’s more a social approach to music when I work with little ones, because I’m working with infants… They’re barely sitting, some of them, and I’m singing to those little ones – up to five-year-olds. So it’s a big range, the level of growth and awareness that occurs in those first five years is very different,” said Palis. “For infants, it’s exposing them to calm sounds and different props and colors, and just exploring, and it’s very calm and soothing. As they start growing, obviously the music and our program changes to make it more developmentally appropriate for them. But, like I said, it’s more of a social interaction in music. I’m not singing or teaching ‘do-re-mi-fa-so’ at this point… It’s listening to each other. It’s sharing instruments. It’s waiting our turns. It’s finding our voice. It’s singing together.”

The Roswell Cultural Arts Center will host Nathalia Palis live in concert for their Youth Day celebration Oct. 8. Tickets and more information are available at