On Friday, the musician released “No Hablo Español,” a fun new single off of his upcoming family album, titled Which One Am I?
“The song is loosely based upon me being half Puerto Rican and half Irish,” Dorough, 45, tells PEOPLE exclusively about the single.
Fun fact: Dorough’s 10-year-old son James, and his mother, Paula Flores Dorough, star in the video for “No Hablo Español.”
“Kids would see me and talk to me in Spanish, and I would be like, ‘No hablo español.'” And they’d be like, ‘What?’ And it’s almost kind of like that look of disgrace. And they’d say, ‘You’re not proud of it? You’re not carrying on tradition.’ And it was never that — I was just a little kid.”
The album, which follows the path of a young Howie D. overcoming his insecurities to discover his true self, has been in the works for the past five years and is something Dorough is “very proud of.”
“It’s definitely not your normal kids record,” he says. “This is more of a twist on a kids record. The goal is to teach people that no matter what they’re going through, they can overcome any obstacle in front of them. I want people who listen to the music not to worry, everything that happens is meant to teach you how to be the person you were meant to be.”
“I went through a lot of common issues that a lot of kids go through nowadays, including worrying and being shy, feeling small, being in somebody’s shadow, monsters in your head, bad dreams,” he adds. “I was definitely always trying to find my place and where I am and how I fit in with people. I wasn’t your tall jock, I was more of your shorter guys. I was more into music and musicals and dancing. Eventually I did find my place, and I’m very proud that I stuck to my grounds of knowing that I was a true entertainer.”
In addition to the new album, Dorough — along with album co-writers, Grammy nominee Tor Hyams and Broadway veteran Lisa St. Lou — created a musical, titled Howie D: Back in the Day, which was inspired by the songs on the record that will premiere early next year.
Now, a father of two (he’s also doting dad to Holden, 6) with wife, Leigh, Dorough said he wanted to create an album that was entertaining for both parents and their kids.
“Music helps to engage not only kids, but their parents,” he says. “Not only do I have kids, but I also look out at our audience, I look at our fans, and I see all the fans that were there many years ago are now coming with their kids. So I was like, you know what, I want to do something that not only my fans can enjoy but also their kids.”
And with the album, Dorough hopes to encourage kids who are dealing with the pressures of growing up.
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“I was just telling my son, there are just things that are temporary moments in your life,” he said. “And we can always overcome anything that we put our minds to. Never let it get the best of you. Every day is a learning challenge, and life will throw you curve balls. But it’s how you overcome them is what makes you the person that you are. And I always tell them, ‘Take the higher road. Always treat people the way you want to be treated.’ Those kind of basic things that my parents instilled in me as a little kid I think constantly transcends generation after generation.”
Which One Am I? will be released on July 12.