The 62nd annual GRAMMY nominees were announced yesterday. To be eligible for the 2020 awards, an album had to be released between October 1, 2018 and August 31, 2019. This year’s selection of nominees for best children’s album includes a few familiar faces as well as the introduction of some newbies to the GRAMMY competition. (Special shout out to Kaitlin McGaw for being the only female lead performer in this year’s crop of nominees!) The GRAMMY awards will be announced on Sunday, January 26.
Ageless Songs for the Child Archetype performed by Jon Samson
If you’re not familiar with the gold sneakers wearing best friends Bryan and Neil, the dynamic duo behind Koo Koo Kanga Roo, then you’ve been missing out. I was first introduced to them a little over three years ago. My first thought was, “These guys are children’s performers?” Quickly followed by, “These guys are children’s performers!” Having traveled the country with everything from Yo Gabba Gabba Live to the Vans Warped Tour, Koo Koo Kanga Roo employs pumping dance beats and crazy, goofy, always entertaining lyrics that will appeal to children of all ages. Whether they are singing about glitter, the turkey wobble, or bubble wrap, the duo’s listeners can always be sure that they are in for a good time. The fun doesn’t end with the music though. Koo Koo Kanga Roo takes their songs to new levels with innovative videos that bring the lyrics to life.
In this regard, the video for Koo Koo Kanga Roo’s newest song does not disappoint. Hot sauce is something that most people either love or hate. This video however, with sizzling visuals and a thumping hook, manages to bridge that divide and make it a condiment everyone can enjoy. So tie on your sneakers, clear the dance floor and get ready to drink in some hot sauce!
November 13 is World Kindness Day. Established in 1998, World Kindness Day is celebrated around the globe – from the US to Japan and Nigeria to the United Arab Emirates. Acts of kindness, both big and small, are encouraged as a symbol of the things that we, as a global community, can accomplish if we are good to one another. One of those small acts that is easy to do no matter your age, is to wear a cardigan. This year, in honor of Mister Rogers and the message of kindness that he spread, Pittsburgh TV station WQED is encouraging everyone to grab my favorite kind of sweater, take a picture and tag it #CardiganDay.
Don’t let your celebration of World Kindness Day end with a sweater. Take a listen to “Drop in the Bucket,” the newest song from Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could. Filled with suggestions on easy ways that young people can be kind to one another, take inspiration from the song and add a drop of kindness to your bucket as we work together to make every day in the neighborhood beautiful.
It’s that time of year again. Time for the “Best of…” lists to start appearing. First up in the land of children’s music is the 14th annual Fids & Kamily Music Awards. Voted on by a stellar collection of folks familiar with the fantastic offerings from the children’s music industry, this list of the Top 12 albums of 2019 for kids and families is a list of “must haves” for every collection. Don’t forget to take a look at the Honorable mentions, they are great ones to have as well. Keep an eye out in the next couple of weeks for our Kids Rhythm and Rockbest of the year list as well. Also on the horizon, the GRAMMY nominations for Best Children’s Album on November 20, followed shortly thereafter by School Library Journal’s “10 Best Children’s Albums.” Are there any albums you wished had made the Fids and Kamily 2019 list?
Thank You Mister Rogers: Music & Memories is a tribute to the incomparable Fred Rogers. Featuring twelve of the over 200 songs that Rogers wrote during his lifetime and performed by a wide variety of stars from yesterday and today, this album is filled with nostalgia for those who spent their formative years wishing they could visit that most famous of neighborhoods. “Some Things I Don’t Understand” was originally performed by Mister Rogers in episode 1101: Death of a Goldfish (1970). During the episode, Mister Rogers discovers that one of his goldfish has died. Throughout the episode, he demonstrates ways to deal with grief including acknowledging that it is ok to be sad, and the importance of sharing happy memories of those you lose. The episode concludes with “Some Things I Don’t Understand” which emphasizes the importance of talking about your feelings when you are happy, sad, mad, or just don’t understand.
This new version of “Some Things I Don’t Understand” is performed by Tom Bergeron. Initially Bergeron, the former host of America’s Funniest Home Videos and current host of Dancing with the Stars, was brought on board as the host and narrator of the project that included music and interviews with fans of Mister Rogers. However, with so many artists interested in participating in the project, it soon turned into a full-length musical tribute album. Luckily, it turns out that in addition to his hosting skills, Bergeron also is a delightful crooner.
Originally performed with much gravitas by Fred Rogers, Bergeron’s version of “Some Things I Don’t Understand” maintains all of the original lyrics but is given an updated jazzy feel that still treats the wonderances seriously, while giving them a more lighthearted melody to be posed against. Bergeron sets the perfect tone of a child’s inquisitive mind with his lively lyrics that move from topic to topic, but much like Mister Rogers, never just gives us the answers. “Some Things I Don’t Understand” also includes a rather impressive whistling solo by Bergeron. As the album’s producer, Dennis Scott, tells it, “I learned that not only did Tom enjoy singing, but he is an outstanding whistler. So at the session we tried having him do a jazz flavored whistling solo. Everyone liked it so much that it became the centerpiece of the song. ”
Thank you Mister Rogers, and thank you Tom Bergeron for giving us this wonderful tune. Please take a listen to “Some Things I Don’t Understand” below. Thank You Mister Rogers: Music & Memories is out this Friday, October 25. Watch a preview for the album here. To learn more about the project, or to share a memory of Mister Rogers, visit www.thankyoumisterrogers.com.
Full disclosure – Halloween is kind of a big deal at my house. New decorations started arriving in June this year. First it was a couple of blow mold black cats in the living room, then it was black cat pumpkin figures peering from unexpected places (and often getting mistaken for our actual black cat) when the Grandin Road fall catalog appeared in July. As we slowly cruised into autumn, it was a few Halloween goodies from the local grocery store on the kitchen table soon to be followed by bowls and plates and platters as prices were slashed to make room on store shelves for the Christmas decorations. Plans are being made for our annual Halloween costume party with evening discussions often surrounding what the lighting should look like, what theme we should go with throughout the house this time, and what creepy food we should serve. And then there’s the outside decorations. Did I mention that work on the light show began back in January? January!! It’s going to be amazing.
Decorations aren’t the only thing essential to Halloween. So is a good soundtrack. After all these years of celebrating All Hallows Eve, I have a pretty prolific collection of Halloween themed music, but as with any holiday, there is always room for more. So what better way to start off the spookiest of seasons than with a brand new song from Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats? Released last Friday, “Flick of My Wrist” is a fantastically orchestrated tune that allows Kalantari’s rollicking vocals to dance around the lyrics as they describe the exploits of a young witch whose use of her power leads to unexpected results. It would be absolutely ghastly if you dared to leave “Flick of My Wrist” off of your Halloween playlist! Take a listen, and Happy Haunting!
When he’s not busy these days being part of the entertaining duo Randy & Dave, Dave Kinnoin and a whole host of friends (including Randy Sharp and Red Grammer) are busy making music as Grin Brigade. The group’s second album, All I Do Is Hop, is filled with 29 songs that cover an incredibly wide range of topics. One of those tracks is the “Dog Alphabet Song.” While the tune is fun to listen to, there’s nothing quite like watching the video that goes along with it. The dog days of summer may already feel like distant memories, but this video featuring dogs of every shape, size and breed, will be the uplifting hit that your fall needs. Brighten any day by watching with the young dog and animal lovers in your life. Can’t catch all the types of dogs as they go by? Check out the lyrics (and chords if you want to try playing it yourself!) here. Enjoy!
This morning the nominees for the 20th Annual Latin GRAMMY awards were announced. The nominees in the Best Latin Children’s Album category are a diverse and delightful group. Be sure to try the albums below before the winner is announced on November 14.
Did you know that National Grandparents Day officially became a holiday on August 3, 1978? In the early 1970’s Marian McQuade, a resident of West Virginia and advocate for the senior population, began campaigning to have Grandparents Day recognized in that state. Through her efforts, in 1973, West Virginia became the first state to proclaim Grandparents Day a holiday. McQuade’s quest didn’t end there and in 1978, President Carter designated the Sunday after Labor Day as Grandparents Day. And this year, that special day is Sunday, September 8.
What better way to celebrate Grandparents Day 2019 than with a delightful new song from Stephen Michael Schwartz? Whether your grandma and grandpa are the ones that you were born with or special seniors that you hold dear to your heart, all grandparents will be touched by this upbeat, special message of love from a grandchild. “Grandma and Grandpa” appears on veteran children’s performer, songwriter and member of Parachute Express, Schwartz’s latest solo album, Ditto Kiddo. Click here to get a sneak “peak” at the songs in this new collection and click below to enjoy “Grandma and Grandpa.”
Chicago-based children’s music artists Wendy Morgan and Darryl Boggs don’t just talk the talk, they also walk the walk. Along with writing music about helping protect the environment, the animals within it and general messages about having love for one another, for years the duo has donated part of the proceeds from their albums to the VH1 Save the Music Foundation and Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots. While the target audience for the music from their albums is at the preschool through early grade school level, Wendy & DB make time each year to work with local middle and high school students throughout the Chicagoland area to create music that is important not only to the students, but to the larger global community as well.
At the end of 2018, Wendy & DB worked with the HHW Youth Gospel Choir, Easter Seals, A Better Life for Kids, and ABLFK African Signers to create the video for their uplifting song, “Way is Peace.” As the song goes, “Let me show you the way. The way is peace. Let me show you the way. The way is love.” The pure joy of the younger children, the powerful voices of the teens and the messages for peace at the end of the video work together to convey an incredibly simple yet so often unheeded message. All of the proceeds from the sale of “Way is Peace” go to Cure Violence Global.
With their latest song, Wendy & DB take on the topic of immigration. To ensure that the message of “We the People” was properly conveyed, they worked very closely with the students at Chicago’s Sullivan High School where over 80% of the student body is immigrants themselves. Over the course of several months, Wendy, DB and bandmate Dean Rolando worked with Sullivan’s music department as well as several English as a Second Language students to create the lyrics of “We the People.” The images in the video combined with these lyrics depicts the immigrant experience not just of these incredible students but of so many throughout our country. Proceeds from “We the People” as well as the Sullivan High School students version of the song go to the immigrant support organization RefugeeOne.