Musical journey: Westfield couple releases children’s album, ‘Hoot and the Hollers’

hoot and hollers cooper family
The Cooper family, Ben and Brittany Joy with their children, Eleanor, Calvin, Henry and Fern, moved back to Westfield before releasing their first children’s album this year. (Photo courtesy of Brittany Joy Cooper)

For Ben and Brittany Joy Cooper, realizing their music dream meant letting go of preconceived notions of success from their younger days.

After several years working in Nashville in the music industry — Ben was a songwriter while Brittany Joy was an editor for a music magazine — the couple started to rethink their plans, focusing not on music as an avenue for success, but rather as a way to share their love of lyrics, harmony and storytelling.

After a decade in Nashville, the couple moved back to Brittany Joy’s hometown of Westfield six years ago and decided to revisit a project they had started back in 2011.

“I grew up a Beatles fan, and here I was in Nashville, a piano player in a guitar city with a lot of country musicians, so I felt like a misfit in some ways,” Ben Cooper said. “A lot of what I was being invited to write and collaborate with on the music side was music that I didn’t even love. So, it was years of writing hoping to get a cut by (a well-known artist), and it just never panned out.”

So, the couple turned their focus to a children’s album they had started working on, “Hoot and the Hollers.”

“The origin of this was, ‘Let’s do something we like. Let’s write something that we would enjoy.’ We landed on, ‘What if we made up a kids’ song just for fun?’ Within a few days, we had five songs that we had written,” Ben Cooper said. “We just kept writing. We were poor, bootstrapping musicians. But what we had was access to recording equipment and we had time and we had creativity. So, we started recording these songs and we started feeling that there was a story coming together. Maybe these stories could be an arc in a single day.”

The story follows an owl named Hoot and his friend, a little girl named Penny Jane. Hoot and his band, The Hollers, play in Penny’s backyard and go on a musical journey viewed through Penny’s eyes, focused on themes like the value of friendship and family, dealing with disappointment, celebrating small triumphs and learning how to do something new.

Although the goal was always to share their music, the couple wasn’t quite sure how to get it into the hands of children. Then they heard of the Yoto Box, a Bluetooth speaker that uses a digital card to play songs and stories.

“We had the audio and some illustrations, and that was all that Yoto Box needed,” Brittany Joy Cooper said. “It just felt like an opportunity to share it with some people. We finally got it up on Spotify as well. People don’t have to own a Yoto Box to enjoy it.”

hoot and hollers kids COVER
Siblings Calvin, Fern and Henry Cooper use a Yoto Box to listen to their parents’ first album, “Hoot and the Hollers.” (Photos courtesy of Brittany Joy Cooper)

The couple said the album follows relatable themes while being engaging for children and their parents.

“Kids appreciate good music. It doesn’t have to be dumbed down,” Ben Cooper said. “It’s unfair sometimes how we think things are kids’ things if they are oversimplified and repetitive and annoying. What if we just follow the things that speak to us?”

The couple said they aren’t looking for the project to be a huge moneymaker. Instead, the payoff is finally getting to share their creations with people who will enjoy it, including their Westfield friends, family and neighbors.

“With any creative endeavor, at some point you have to make a pivot,” Brittany Joy Cooper said. “Ben built a business doing consulting work, and he loves that, but being able to be a patron for his own music and other people’s music, to come full circle (is rewarding). What is a full life? We are so thankful for what we have, and it’s not what we would have thought in our 20s, but what did we even know in our 20s?”

The couple is already working on more children’s music, including plans for a Christmas song or album.

The Coopers live in Westfield with their four children, Eleanor, 11, Calvin, 9, Henry, 6, and Fern, 4.

About ‘Hoot and the Hollers’

Hoot and Hollers album cover
“Hoot and the Hollers” album cover.

The album

“Hoot and the Hollers” was co-written with Grammy Award-winning songwriter, producer and Ben Cooper’s mentor, Gordon Kennedy, the songwriter behind Eric Clapton’s “Change the World.” The album follows an owl named Hoot as he and his band, The Hollers play in the backyard of their friend Penny Jane. The album features themes on friendship, family, and growing up. The album includes influences from The Beatles to classical music.

How to listen

Hoot and the Hollers on Yoto, as well as Yoto devices, can be found at The album is $9.99, and devices start at $70. The album is also available on Spotify.