When people mention the name Carol Lester, downtown Jersey City comes to mind. Lester seems to have been a part of the downtown scene forever. And by today’s standards, three decades of living in the Paulus Hook area is forever.
Lester is generally associated with downtown Jersey City’s revival. This is partly because she arrived in that part of the city in the 1980s and became a community activist at a time when downtown was just being reborn. She moved into the Paulus Hook area before, as she puts it, “Jersey City had its own skyline.” She has been a fixture in the community ever since.
During those years, she helped raise her kids and eventually served a brief term on the Jersey City Board of Education.
A community activist involved in everything from the cleanup and redevelopment of Van Vorst Park to working with local charter schools, these days Lester is becoming better known for her love of music for adults and for children.
Recently she appeared at the Hoboken Arts and Music Festival as The Bubble Queen & The Royal Bubble Pops, Preschool of Rock, a genre of music she seems to have fallen into.
“I started writing my own music in college, but I didn’t record anything until 2001.” – Carol Lester
She is founder of ABC Sing With ME! Baby Toddler Music. She teaches and performs locally, while writing and pitching music nationally for TV film and artist placement.
Many kids and senior citizens know her locally, because she offers yoga classes and performs music. An award-winning singer-songwriter, Lester has a number of musical projects, some for adults, but some equally entertaining music for kids.
She has been featured on “Sounds of Hope, NYC Artists Remember 9/11. Songs from her three independent albums have been licensed for TV, film and radio including USA Network, Red Cross, and for the 9/11 Memorial Commission.
Lester worked A&R in 2009 for Mamapalooza Records’ new full length release “Moms Gone Mad/Mamalove,” which featured award winning songwriters in the US, UK, and Australia.
A popular yoga instructor, she said she started teaching yoga under Bob Hurley.
Offers programs for seniors
She currently offers a senior citizen-friendly yoga programs through the Jersey City Department of Recreation. Sometimes, she even combines music and exercise.
She has served Mamapalooza co-producer for “Moms Who Rock Concerts” and “Band of the Year” and has even sung as a soprano and soloist in the legendary Reverend Billy and the Church of Life After Shopping Gospel Choir. She is founding principal of “ABC Sing with Me!” developmental baby/toddler music. Some of her songs have been national TV and radio underscoring advertisements, and have been chosen for Competitive Showcases by ASCAP, NYC, and Starbucks “Artists on The Verge”.
Started out at home
“I started writing my own music in college, but I didn’t record anything until 2001,” she said.
She was home with her daughter.
“I wanted to be a stay at home mother,” she said.
While this meant that she would make less money in the outside world, it gave her more time to write new songs. She eventually recorded three grown up albums, and then went into kids’ music.
A self-taught musician, Lester, came from a musical family with ties to a number of professionals. She grew up outside Philadelphia.
“I went to the same high school as Janis Ian,” she joked. “I learned the truth about the music industry that it often doesn’t make you money. But I love to do it.”
Lester moved to Jersey City around 1988 and recalled that she could still see the Statue of Liberty, and that the waterfront was still a maze of abandoned buildings, old warehouses, and factories. Already a community activist, Lester became a board member about six years ago and served a board vice president for a year.
While she had a serious interest in the education system, she was also interested in the environment and was among those who helped restore Van Vorst Park .
But she loves music, and says creative muses come out of real life, if not real money.
She is looking to create an animated video version of some of the Bubble Queen material, and may seek to fund the project through a Kickstarter campaign.
She believes this might be a salable product. She has sold work in the past, writing jingles and doing some voiceover work, but believes that she might be able to make Bubble Queen into something, and hopes that the public will catch on to it.
“I love what I do, and I would like to make a living at it,” she said.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.