Eco Hero Kids rock to green theme

The Eco Hero Kids performed Sunday at the Malibu Inn to celebrate the release of their first CD, which features an environmental theme. Pictured, from left: Ava Deikeler, Leilani Jones, Katarina Ulich, Ellery Smoller, Caitlyn Evers, Timmy Thames and TJ Jones. Photo by Dana Fineman / TMTs

A group of young Malibu residents has taken on the challenges to the environment with rock and roll, and on Sunday rocked their message across with a concert at the Malibu Inn. Malibu’s Eco Hero Kids also celebrated the release of their first eponymously titled CD.

Organized under the auspices of local singer-songwriter Julia Holland, the group has a serious message: wake up grownups, and save the planet we are inheriting.

Holland’s brainchild was born of three personal passions: “I love singing, I’m crazy about songwriting and I’m concerned about the environment,” she said. “Since kids are inheriting our mess, I thought a cool pop group would influence other kids’ awareness.”

Several years ago, Holland started writing some pop tunes designed to be sung “by kids, for kids,” with upbeat tempos, clever lyrics and a pointed theme of environmental responsibility. Significantly, the songs highlight ordinary measures that anyone, even youngsters, can take to help preserve the planet’s ecosystem.

When Holland set out to start building her pop group, she only had to look as far as her students. A private singing coach, Holland tapped her list of lively roster of pupils, most of them local children attending local schools.

Several months of long Sunday afternoon rehearsals later, Holland has formed a nonprofit foundation, produced a bouncy CD sung by uniformly good voices, a witty and informative documentary video of the group’s eco education and a great deal of hope to make a difference.

The group features Ava Deikeler, Caitlyn Evers, Dylan Grieco-Sissons, Ellery Smoller, Katarina Ulich, Leilani and TJ Jones and Timmy Thames.

“It was always about finding really good voices,” Holland said. “And I wanted beautiful children, yes, but also articulate kids. They’ve worked very hard.”

Their efforts seem to have paid off, as the Malibu Inn was packed to the rafters on Sunday. While attendees and supporters browsed T-shirts and CDs, others bid at a silent auction, or munched on cookies decorated as globes and dined at a buffet offered by the Green Truck organic catering company. Beverages included spring water bottled in plant-based, 100 percent compostable materials.

Local environmentalist Kelly Meyer was on hand to show support and is enthusiastic about the group’s debut.

“I’ve heard all their songs and they are fantastic,” Meyer said. “They are right on point, their message is their music and look at them. They’re adorable.”

After a funny introductory video, the eight youngsters, aged six to 12, took the stage to sing several of the songs featured on the CD. With smoothly blended harmonies and a Jonas Brothers stage presence, the Eco Hero Kids launched into diverse tunes like the doo-wop “Dear Mr. Grown Up,” a rhetorical “Where Do All The Plastic Bottles Go?” and the plaintive “A World Left for Me.”

And the younger performers were not there just for the cute factor. Seven-year-old TJ Jones has a powerful voice to go with his pop-locking dance moves. Paired with his sister, six-year-old Leilani in her bright blue petticoat and big red flower in her curls, the duo slayed.

Holland’s 19-year-old daughter, Brooke, narrated a short video that shows the Eco Hero Kids visiting a landfill patrolled by falcons to control rodents and a worm farm that creates natural soil amendments.

“Forty percent of landfills have material like newspaper that can totally be recycled,” Brooke said. “I mean, all you have to do is put newspapers in the can that says ‘paper’ for recycling. Hello? Kids in kindergarten have figured this out.”

Each of the Eco Hero Kids has taken on a particular environmental hazard to attack and have informed themselves of the means to recycle or minimize their impact.

When asked what was his pet peeve, TJ Jones declared, “Batteries! You can’t just throw them away. They leak.” (Battery acid can leak into groundwater from landfills and present serious health hazards.)

The Eco Hero Kids’ target audience was grooving to the message. Young Dylan Strickland, a student at Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School, has absorbed the enviro-responsibility ethic.

“I walk to school every day,” Strickland said. “I mean, it’s only three blocks. But it still saves gas.”

Holland is seeking donations to fund tours and, hopefully, arrange television appearances for the group.

In their video, one of the young activists said, “We’re just kids. What can we do?”

With their message, the Eco Hero Kids hope to empower and encourage families to become actively involved in protecting the global environment.

More information can be obtained and CDs purchased online at