By JOYELL NEVINS | La Mesa Courier
Big vision, big purpose, big magic. La Mesa’s Kathryn Cloward, a.k.a. “Kathryn the Grape,” is on a mission to change the world through heart messages she imprints on kids, toddlers, and the adults in their life.
Her “heart-centered” media collection, as she describes it, uses music and stories to unlock a “treasure box” for those who join her. These affirmations aren’t just pithy sayings, they are “tools of love” from Cloward’s core:
- I am magical.
- I am colorful.
- I am love.
- I am kind.
- I am unique.
- I am grateful.
- I am joyful.
The tools come from lessons Cloward learned through her own “transformation process” 10 years ago. Her life had hit some unexpected curves, but rather than simmer in misery, Cloward began to rethink who she was and who she wanted to be.
“It wasn’t the whole me, I was just checking all the boxes of the ‘American dream,’” Cloward recalled. “There were things that I wanted to do that I wasn’t doing. But when we get quiet and listen, what rises up is who we are and our true purpose.”
One morning while meditating, Cloward realized that she had inner magic — not a “Harry Potter” kind of magic, but a special kind of courage. She also realized that she wasn’t the only one who carried this courage.
“We all have inner magic — love and joy and bravery,” she explained.
That was the first tool. Cloward was filled with a “call to action” to share that and other tools she was learning. Then she remembered a conversation with her mom, Mary K. Cloward, 10 years prior to that about when Kathryn was an adolescent.
Kathryn, who currently resides in La Mesa, grew up in San Carlos and played softball for years. Her coach “Mr. P” nicknamed all of his players. Since Kathryn wore purple all the time, he called her “Kathryn the Grape” as a play-on “Kathryn the Great.”
Mary brought up this story, and encouraged Kathryn to turn that persona into a children’s book character.
“At that point, I wasn’t in sync with what [Kathryn the Grape’s brand] was,” Kathryn said.
Fast forward a decade, and Kathryn finally knew how she wanted to share her life lessons with young people, and the adults that read to them – that aforementioned character of ‘Kathryn the Grape.’
“My mom still gets the credit, but those stories had to come through me,” Kathryn said.
Other credit goes to the youthful Samantha Prince, who helped write two books with Kathryn, and Jennie Lapointe, who is Kathryn’s walking and creative partner.
“This is what we do – we go on walks and we create stuff for kids,” Kathryn laughed.
After creating the material, the next question was how to share it? Cloward was already a musician, and still fronts the band Kathryn & the Royals. She knew she wanted to combine her love of music with the power of reading, and learned in business that “no one will market you the way you market you.”
So, she formed her own publishing company: Kandon Unlimited, Inc. The company has since published not only Kathryn’s “Affirmation” and “Let’s Read Together” book series, but has also brought on other independent artists as well. Kandon Unlimited, Inc., represents a total of more than 200 published books and songs under its umbrella.
The first seven books contained the afore-mentioned tools of love. They are geared towards adolescents, and were the first introduction of Kathryn the Grape.
Then as Kathryn began to promote the Affirmations and perform around the county, she realized that many of the children she interacts with are toddlers. So, the newest book series, Let’s Read Together, is a collection of popular songs, revamped to still portray those life lessons. For instance, the well-known “Wheels on the Bus” song now has a line that reads “the parents on the bus say ‘ l love you…’”
Cloward also realized that someone has to read those books to the toddlers. She still remembers those times of her mom reading to her as what she called “her favorite time of the day.”
“That nurturing time: it’s still important, it still matters,” Kathryn said.
So, she started to pursue a second book series geared at the toddler age. Not only would it encourage children and their parents or loved ones to read together, but it would also introduce her tools to grown-ups as well. By getting a message in the hands and hearts of young people, it gets into the hands and hearts of adults, too.
“I ultimately intend to share these messages with the youngest of kids all the way to adults,” Kathryn declared.
Even teenagers have employed her verbiage to explain their feelings — like when a mother told Kathryn the story of her 16-year-old who was getting ready for a major event. She and the teen talked about the “nervous bubbles” in her stomach as a way to express the anxiety, and ultimately quell it.
That is Kathryn’s greatest purpose — to take these messages of love, magic, and peace, and incorporate them into as many hearts and lives as she can.
“To live your purpose is to do what you’re passionate about and help others,” Kathryn said. “My goal is just to keep growing and keep expanding. I bet on purple!”
The Next Grape Step
Kathryn isn’t done yet! This New Years’ Day, a new “Let’s Sing Together” album will be released. The 20 songs on it corroborate with the Let’s Read Together series.
She is also working to increase the spotlight on independent media. This year, although her inspirational song “Heroes” didn’t get enough votes to score a Grammy nomination, it did meet the qualifications to get on the first-round ballot. Kathryn isn’t daunted — she is already planning to try again next year.
“You could be discouraged, or you could say ‘hey, I can figure this out’,” she explained. “Don’t take no for the end answer — ever.”
For more information about Kathryn Cloward and her materials, visit kathrynthegrape.com or kathryncloward.com. Her book series are also available on Amazon and barnesandnoble.com.