Stacey Peasley’s fifth album for families, Make It Happen!, is a wonderfully refreshing thirty minutes of music. Backed by popping melodies, each of the ten original songs in this collection tells a story packed with details that children can easily relate to. The first three tracks – “Make It Happen,” “Boo Boo,” and “What Girls Do” – employ lyrics that empower listeners with messages that acknowledge that even though being a kid is hard, they are resilient and are here to do amazing things. With spring and summer sports beginning again, listeners will get all revved up for game day with the anthem “Play the Game,” while “Swimming Pool” will be a good track to share with children who might be nervous about taking swimming lessons for the first time. If you’re looking for new songs to use during storytime, “Choo Choo” is a great fast paced tune to use during a dance break, while “At the Parade” is interactive from beginning to end, inviting listeners to be the instruments, marchers and cheering audience at the parade. Make it Happen! is a joy from beginning to end.
So often Spring is celebrated with the blooming of flowers and arrival of baby animals while Fall is the time when trees are allowed to shine as they lose their leaves and prepare for winter. Suzi Shelton’s new song and video “Magnolia Tree” changes that. This charmingly animated video gives nods to Suzi’s Brooklyn home base while featuring a fantastically diverse group of young friends who gather under a beautiful magnolia tree as its springtime leaves and flowers make an appearance. Created through a collaboration between Dallas-based artist Jackie Land and Venezuela-based illustrator and animator Alcides Urrutia, who has worked with Latin Grammy winners 123 Andrés, the video perfectly pairs Suzi’s light, uplifting vocals with images that capture the freedom that comes with being outside and the joy of finding a special place to hang out with friends. “Magnolia Tree” is the perfect way to kickoff Spring.
March roared in with the arrival of music from two evergreen children’s performers – Laurie Berkner and The Wiggles. Not one to let something like a pandemic slow her down, on March 5, Laurie released her 14th album, Let’s Go! Filled with her signature style these 16 songs, running a brief 33 minutes total, will not disappoint. Tracks like “When It’s Cold,” “Time to Eat,” and “Jumping Jack” would be welcome additions to storytimes as they encourage children to wiggle, jump, spin, clap, and knock while “Happy New Year” is the perfect way to end this year’s Noon Year’s Eve events. Reminders of the times in which we live are evident in “The Superhero Handwashing Song,” “The Superhero Mask Song,” and the opening track, “Let’s Go!” which celebrates the building excitement as everyone gets ready to go outside. In addition to all of this fun, there are also some quiet moments, times for mindfulness and reflection in “Listen to the Sounds,” and “Beautiful Light.”
March 5 must have been a special day because it also saw the release of We’re All Fruit Salad: The Wiggles Greatest Hits. Featuring 40 of the group’s most popular songs, this super album celebrates 30 years of the iconic Australian children’s group. As the originators of what came to be known as “cradle rock,” the music of The Wiggles stands the test of time and will entertain old and new fans. Enjoy the delightful video for the title track “We’re All Fruit Salad!” – a takeoff on one of their hits, Packed with three decades of music and fun, there is only one thing left to say about this album – yummy, yummy!
Chicagoland’s Nanny Nikki may just be releasing her first original single, but she’s not unfamiliar with children’s music. As a nanny for nearly 15 years, Nikki Rung was able to weave her love of singing into her day job, Now, as a mother, Nikki is putting that love of music and that work experience to good use as her alter ego – Nanny Nikki. In 2020 she debuted several videos featuring classic children’s songs and rhymes as well as “You Sing & I Sing,” a series on Nanny Nikki’s YouTube page. Each episode features Nikki and a very special children’s musician like – Miss Jamie, Stacey Peasley or Red Yarn – performing a wide array of music. Now Nanny Nikki is spreading her wings even further with her first original song, “Keep On Looking.” As the song says, whether you lose a marble, your cape, or your favorite cuddly, don’t give up – keep on looking! Nanny Nikki exudes energy and joy that will draw children in and find them employing their own “binoculars” to keep on looking for things wherever they may go.
“I’m an a cappella fella with an a cappella family,” declares Steve Pullara on the opening track from his latest album, An A Cappella Family. Over the course of ten light, uplifting songs, Steve and his talented “family,” a group of musicians who recorded the entire album from a distance during the pandemic, entertain listeners with clever lyrics and jaunty melodies. The songs cover a wide range of topics including having gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe, the fun of slurping while eating, and the trials of losing your car in the parking lot. Also included are songs about a family’s adopted dog Bowzer and adopted cat Whiskers, a great tune about the fact that almost everything in life arrives at the store via truck, and a cool song about friends that proudly declares, “Big or small, short or tall, my friends come in all shapes and sizes.” While the majority of the album is very up tempo, things do slow down a bit with songs like “Midnight on the Moon” and “Ti Amo Lullaby.”
When listening to well-executed a cappella you don’t notice the absence of instrumental accompaniment, and that is certainly the case here. The lyrics are showcased by perfectly harmonizing vocals that weave together on each song to tell an engaging story. With most songs falling in the 2:30-3:00 minute range, the tracks on An A Cappella Family would make fun additions to dance breaks during storytimes and music programs. Get in the swing of things with the video for the first track, “All Cooped Up,” below.