Get Ready to Explore Dana’s Music Playground!

Beginning February 16, there is a new YouTube channel that any grown up who lives or works with children needs to share with the little ones in their lives. Created by Dana Cohenour, or Miss Dana, Dana’s Music Playground is set to be the weekly musical  treat that everyone needs. Drawing on her 20 years of experience entertaining families across the country, Miss Dana has crafted an exciting new program that will keep children engaged and entertained while also learning a thing or two.

While each week features a different theme – February 16 (Monkeys), February 23 (Happy), March 2 (Birds), and March 9 (Cows), every episode incorporates songs, musical instruments, fingerplays, sign language and much more. Miss Dana’s gentle, welcoming nature will draw children in at the same time that her energy and enthusiasm will get them up and moving. Get a sneak peek at what is in store in this trailer for Dana’s Music Playground, then mark your calendars for the February 16th premier.

Want to learn more about Miss Dana? Check out this review of her 2017 album, Dana’s Best Jump and Jam Tunes which was named one of the Top 10 Albums for Children by School Library Journal.

It Takes a Village Performed by Ginalina

Vancouver-based Ginalina’s latest album for families is a delightful, up-tempo celebration of love. Beginning with the opening track, “Welcome to the Neighbourhood,” It Take a Village draws listeners in by emphasizing the importance of community and opening our hearts and embracing one another. This theme continues in the title track, “It Takes a Village” all the way through the final song on the album, the beautiful, “Goodnight Lullaby.” In between are songs that let children know that change doesn’t have to be scary, that they can be anything that want when they grow up, and that doing things together is better than doing them alone.

Ginalina continues her tradition of writing songs that honor nature with tunes about the winter weather, the arrival of spring, and the life cycle of bunnies. Also included on the album is the French tune, “Dans la Rivière (tous Connectés) and the multi-lingual song “Apple Apple Seed” which is performed in English, French and Chinese. Ginalina’s folk-pop sound is accentuated by uplifting melodies and lyrics that encourage audience participation. “It Takes a Village” is a true delight.

UPDATE: It was announced today that It Takes a Village is nominated for the 2019 Juno (Canada’s Music Award) for Best Children’s Album.

Building Blocks Performed by Tim Kubart

Welcome to the first post of 2019! What better way is there to start the year than with Tim Kubart’s joy-filled album, Building Blocks? Released in fall 2018, this GRAMMY-nominated album is packed with Kubart’s signature upbeat pop sound. Many of the tracks speak to milestones in a child’s life – the first time jumping in the deep end, riding a bike without training wheels, and getting a pet – but with lyrics that stretch beyond that experience. A great example of this is the boppy “Jump Right In” which details a child mentally gearing up to leap into the pool while his whole family looks on and includes the lyric, “nothing to be scared of, when you’re surrounded by love.”

Kubart skillfully, positively affirms all of the experiences of childhood. Released as a full-length picture book in 2018, and now a track on this album, the lighthearted “Oopsie-Do!” let’s children know that it’s ok to make mistakes while “Day One” speaks to a child’s first time leaving for school. Told from the child’s point-of-view, this will tug at every parent’s heartstrings. Take a look.

Several special guests pop up including Steve Burns (Blues Clues) on the construction-themed “It’s Going Up,” the Woodward Parkway Junior Chorus on “We Are Growing” and Genevieve Goings (Disney Junior’s Choo Choo Soul), Carly Ciarrocchi (Sprout House) and Drue Davis (Postmodern Jukebox) on the celebration-filled final track, “Block Party.” Building Blocks is a pure delight that families will enjoy listening to again and again.

Enjoy the video for “Ready For You,” a tale of children who have been proving they are ready to take on the responsibility of a pet, below.

 

 

School Library Journal’s Top 10 Music of 2018

School Library Journal’s (SLJ) Top 10 Music of 2018” list is out. This year, items that qualified for the list followed the same release date timeline as those for GRAMMY and Fids and Kamily consideration – they had to be released between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018.

The criteria used to compile this list is slightly different as well. Along with the best overall quality, musicality and kid/family appeal of an album, the SLJ reviewers also look at selections from the point of view of librarians and teachers and recommend the best albums of the year to use in programs or the classroom.

This year’s Top 10 is varied enough to have a little something for everyone. Each album pictured below deserves a space in every library collection. Click here for to visit SLJ for brief descriptions of each album. Did your favorites make the list?

Album Cover Art – Swamp Romp

Last year I had to buy a new car. While the vehicle is great and a real step up from my 12 year old two-door sedan, there is one major flaw. It doesn’t have a CD player. They just didn’t offer it. I keep hearing that this is the wave of the future. That CDs are on their way out. While that may be true, we still have a really long way to go and that is why album cover art continues to be so important.

While many parents are now either streaming music for their kids or playing children’s music videos on YouTube, there is still a large number of families who are buying albums, or in many cases, checking them out from the library. Much like books, people often check music out based on how the cover looks. In the case of Swamp Romp, the new album from Johnette Downing with Scott Billington, the cover is completely delightful.

Created by Heather Stanley, the whimsy and joy of the cover art perfectly captures the Louisiana roots music featured on the album. Stanley, who works as the Director of Creative Services at the Audubon Nature Institute, also illustrated two of Downing’s books (Petit Pierre and the Floating Marsh and Mademoiselle Grands Doigts). She works in many mediums from watercolor to digital technology, often showcasing nature and the animals who inhabit it.

Swamp Romp will be released on February 15, 2019.

Best Children’s Album 2018 GRAMMY Nominees

This past year was another amazing one for children’s music. Whether you like the more traditional kids music, jazz, rock, folk, EDM, pop, world music and more, there was something for every family. To be considered for the 61st GRAMMY awards, albums had to be released between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018. Below are the five albums that are nominated for Best Children’s Album (click on the blue titles to see my reviews). The GRAMMY awards will be announced on Sunday, February 10.

All the Sounds performed by Lucy Kalantari & The Jazz Cats

 

Building Blocks performed by Tim Kubart

 

Falu’s Bazaar performed by Falu

 

Giants of Science performed by The Pop Ups

 

The Nation of Imagine performed by Frank & Deane

New Holiday Playlist

I love the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. While it can be filled with lots of special events, extra cars on the road and crabby shoppers, it’s also the only time of the year when I can curl up in my softest, coziest blanket, sip a cup of hot cocoa, turn off all but the twinkly lights and relax while I enjoy some of my all-time favorite music. This year, the folks at Sugar Mountain PR have compiled a free list of new songs and perhaps new-to-you songs from 16 different children’s artists. Click here to take a listen. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite or two!

 

The playlist includes:
“Blankets of Snow” – The Okee Dokee Brothers
“Christmas Time” – Ants, Ants, Ants
“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” – The Not-Its!
“My Holiday” – Alphabet Rockers and Genevieve Goings
“Baby It’s the Holidays Again” – Kira Willey
“Holiday Jam” – Brady Rymer
“Silver Bells” – Suzi Shelton
“Must Be Santa” – Raffi
“Light” – Lisa Loeb
“Christmas Time is Here” – Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke
“I Got a Cheese Log” – Trout Fishing in America
“Welcome to Christmaswood” – Ralph’s World
“Snow Day” – Justin Roberts”
“We Are Growing” – Tim Kubart (feat. Woodward Parkway’s Junior Chorus)
“Jingle Bell Rock” – Lucky Diaz
“Bembelé” – 123 Andrés feat. ClaraLuna

 

 

 

Video Premiere – “Funny Papers” performed by Randy & Dave

Veteran songwriters Randy Sharp and Dave Kinnoin return with their third delightfully silly and fun collaboration, Snorkel. Each song tells a story using lyrics that respect the children’s ability to listen closely. The stories may be about a lumberjack who gives his rather large dog a bath, a child who was just trying to be nice and let a squirrel inside, or an ode to the family cat. In with all of the silliness, Randy & Dave also cleverly weave important messages. In “Everybody’s Ignorant,” the emphasis is on the fact that we can’t all know everything while in “Why Not” the main character, rather than simply accepting that something is not possible, decides to use his inquiring mind to figure out “why not” instead. Randy & Dave don’t shy away from using difficult vocabulary on occasion, incorporating terms like hirsute, distortion and consternation into their songs. They provide all of the words and music from Snorkel here, along with a sample of each song so that they can be performed with or without the CD.

Here is the debut of the so-cute-you-can’t-help-but-smile video for the song, “Funny Papers.”

Winterland performed by The Okee Dokee Brothers

This fall The Okee Dokee Brothers returned with Winterland, the follow-up to their “Adventure Album Series.” This new album finds the GRAMMY Award-winning duo of Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing celebrating the cold and snowy winter season. This collection of 16 songs is a beautiful combination of music that embraces the wonders of this unsung time of year as well as some important life lessons. The album opens with “Blankets of Snow,” a great reminder that the cold weather outside is what leads to the warmth and coziness inside. On the opposite end of the cozy spectrum is “Ice Fishin’ Shack” an ode to a past time that is not for the winter faint-of-heart. And don’t miss the tale of the poor, misunderstood “Abominable Yeti,” who it turns out is an upstanding citizen and overall nice creature.

Musically, the entire album, produced by GRAMMY Award-winner Dean Jones, is a treat to listen to, with The Okee Dokee Brothers signature Americana folk style evident throughout. A few of the unique standouts include “Keep Me Warm” which is inspired by the community singing of traditional Irish songs in local pubs, “Slumberjack,” a song that is a nod to the shanties of Canada’s Maritime Provinces and is their first a cappella number, and the raucous “Howl,” a tune influenced by a dog sledding trip in the Boundary Waters.

Along with the songs lauding winter and all that comes with it, are songs that provide important life lessons. The song “You, You, You” is the most pop sounding track on the album and encourages children to be true to themselves, “And you you you, you were you-ing like/ You do. I just love it when you you.” The circle of life is addressed in “Great Grandmother Tree,” which allows children to talk about death in a less frightening way. And finally, there is “Snowpeople” which asks whether or not we have to “wear” our genders.

Winterland is filled with so much depth. It entertains while also teaches us to love nature and one another all year through.

 

View the video for “Snowpeople” below and read this interview The Okee Dokee Brothers did with Fatherly about the origin of the song.

2018 Children’s Music Roundup

Welcome to Kids Rhythm and Rock’s first ever Children’s Music Roundup!! Throughout the past year I thought a lot about doing a “10 Best” list, but the music for children this year was so diverse and so dynamic, there was no way I could limit my choices. What I decided to do instead was to make a list of my favorite albums of the year, then break the list up by categories. (If I reviewed an album here, I’ve included the link.) So, without further ado, here is the 2018 Children’s Music Roundup!

Most Amazing Album Covers:
Come for the covers, stay for the fantastic music!

Blue Skies and Sunny Days performed by Frances England
Wake Up the Dream performed by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

 

Be Mindful, Be Kind:
Music to guide our everyday lives.

Every Voice performed by Kira Willey
Dog on the Floor performed by Raffi

 

Oh, to be Little:
Perfect tunes for the preschool crowd.

Come Together performed by Jeanie B!
High Five! performed by Laura Doherty

 

Sounds of Summer:
Winter may soon be upon many of us, but these albums are good anytime of the year. 

Camp Andyland performed by Andy Z
Fireflies performed by Mister G

 

It’s Science!:
Who knew science could be so fun?

Giants of Science performed by The Pop Ups
Kidz STEM Songs performed by Dan Crow and Friends
Zoom a Little Zoom: A Ride Through Science performed by Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer

 

Life Through a Special Set of Eyes:
Meet Jamey, his cat and his new puppy as they partake in the joys of summer. 

Kitty Cat Under My Wheelchair performed by Steve Pullara and His Cool Beans Band

 

 

For Fans of the “Who Was/ Who Is” Series:
What better group of people to learn about than Nobel Laureates? 

Legion of Peace performed by Lori Henriques Quintet featuring Joey Alexander

 

 

Where in the World…:
Music inspired by cultures from around the world.

Falu’s Bazaar performed by Falu (India)
La Luna performed by 123 Andrés (Central and South America)

 

Jazziest Jams:
Everything’s groovy in this collection.

All the Sounds performed by Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats

 

We Only Have One Earth:
Celebrate all the creatures, great and small, on this planet we call home. 

Back to the Land performed by Hot Peas ‘N Butter
Why Why Why? performed by Ants Ants Ants

 

 

 

Introducing:
Who can resist a bilingual playground? 

Happy Land is Tierra Feliz performed by Mi Amigo Hamlet

 

 

Musical Moms:
There are many moms on this list, but the moms below can’t be categorized!

Songs for Sisters and Brothers performed by Vered
Strawberry Wind performed by Jessie Baylin
Tour Guide performed by Cheri Magill
Wild is Everywhere performed by Sara Lovell

 

Music for a Cause:
Hold Tight, Shine Bright performed by 25+ children’s artists 
This album was created to help keep families together. All proceeds go to RAICES Texas.

 

And finally –

Just Because They’re Awesome:
Building Blocks performed by Tim Kubart 
Family Photo Album performed by Recess Monkey
Hand in Hand performed by Suzi Shelton

 

 

 

Did your favorites make the list?? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

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