2022 Children’s Music Round Up

Welcome to Kids Rhythm and Rock’s annual Children’s Music Round Up! For those of you new to the site, at the end of each year, rather than doing a “Top 10” or a “Best of” list, I compile a list of albums that have come to my attention during the last 12 months and separate them into fun categories. The total number of albums that are included varies from year-to-year. This year 45 albums make an appearance in the list below.

The richness and depth that is family music just keeps growing. 2022 saw the introduction of new artists, established acts returning after creative hiatuses, and veteran performers taking risks and trying something new. Let’s say hello to 2023 by taking a look back at the “year that was” in children’s music. All albums are available online. Don’t see your favorites? Please add them in the comments.

Be Mindful, Be Kind

Music to guide our everyday lives.

  • For Children of All Ages performed by You and Us
  • Happy Day performed by Jenn Cleary
  • Just a Minute performed by Jesse Jukebox
  • Mosaic performed by Jumpin’ Jamie
  • Nursery Rhymes for Kinder Times performed by Raffi and Lindsay Monroe
  • Your Voice is Magic performed by Again Again

Dynamic Duos

Sometimes it’s just more fun to sing with a friend.

  • Best Day Ever performed by Stacey & Athena
  • Dear Heart performed by Martin and Rose
  • The Greats performed by Louis & Dan and the Invisible Band
  • Smith & Yarn performed by Aaron Nigel Smith and Red Yarn

Festival de Música

Music in Spanish and English for the whole family to enjoy.

  • Los Fabulosos performed by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band
  • Mi Colores performed by Nathalia
  • Musiquita performed by Musiquita

Oh, to be Young

Perfect tunes for the preschool crowd

  • Let’s Move performed by Katie Dwyer
  • Echo Songs, Vol. 2 performed by Noodle Loaf
  • Forgot My Oars performed by Tim Seston
  • Rain Rain Go Away performed by Adam Steele
  • Wondering performed by Music with Gina

Our Friends to the South

2022 was the year when music from Australia and New Zealand arrived on the scene.

Potpourri

This was always my favorite category on Jeopardy! 

Rockin’ Rhythms

I’m a little bit rock ‘n’ roll!

Sweet Home, Chicago

All of these artists call Chicagoland home.

The Children Are Our Future

These groups put young people front and center in creating and performing music that educates, entertains, and uplifts all those who listen to it.

  • The Movement performed by Alphabet Rockers
  • Multiply performed by The Wise Channel

Unique Musical Stylings

There was nothing else quite like these albums this year.

  • Adults These Days performed by Greg Lato
  • Dark Side of the Banana performed by Go Banana Go!
  • Dinosaurs and Monsters performed by Howdytoons
  • Mammal Music performed by Marko Polo

Unstoppable Beats

Music to get you moving and grooving.

Best Children’s Album GRAMMY 2023 Nominees

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – the GRAMMY Award Nominations! The 65th annual GRAMMY award nominations were announced today. To be eligible for the award, a children’s album must contain at least 51% playing time of new musical or spoken word recordings that are created and intended specifically for children and released between October 1, 2021 and September 30, 2022. The depth and variety of children’s music this year was truly incredible. Congratulations to all of the nominees and to all the artists who created such amazing music this year. The GRAMMY Awards will be announced on Sunday, February 5.

Into the Little Blue House performed by Wendy & DB

Los Fabulosos performed by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

The Movement performed by Alphabet Rockers

Ready Set Go performed by Divinity Roxx

Space Cadet performed by Justin Roberts

You Are Not Alone from Alphabet Rockers

If you’ve been on social media in the past couple of weeks you’ve probably seen people posting about the 10 Year Challenge, which is just a picture of you from 10 years ago and one from today. As I was mulling over how to celebrate the release date of You Are Not Alone, the beautiful new picture book from Alphabet Rockers, I remembered this challenge and decided to take a stroll down memory lane and check out some of their early albums from my local library’s prolific music collection. Imagine my surprise when I realized that the first album I picked up…

…was from 2012!! That’s right! A decade ago, before they became the powerhouse champions for social justice they are today, Alphabet Rockers was creating a dance party of “learning, fitness, and early literacy.”

Fast forward 10 years to today and the debut of You Are Not Alone.

While Alphabet Rockers still believe in the things that made Go! so special, their messages have changed to reflect the world in which we live. You Are Not Alone is a bright, engaging picture book which encourages young readers (and as you’ll see below, young viewers) to love who they are, to celebrate all identities, and to “use their voices against hate.” The illustrations beautifully tell the story and when combined with the lyrical prose (“You don’t know me, but I bet you see the sun rise and set like I do…If you really knew me, when you’d see me you would think: You are Powerful, You are brave, You are brilliant”), makes readers want to reach out a hand to those around them and say, “You are not alone. I got you.” To learn more about how the story for You Are Not Alone came about and the process of creating the illustrations, visit We Need Diverse Books for a Q&A with Alphabet Rockers and illustrator Ashley Evans.

Check out the companion music video and song for You Are Not Alone below.

Video Spotlight – “Juneteenth” performed by Fyütch and Alphabet Rockers

On June 17, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, making June 19 a federal holiday. Today’s video spotlight commemorates and celebrates Juneteenth. Music and social justice artists Fyütch and Alphabet Rockers have teamed up to set the historical record straight on the emancipation of slaves in the United States. Working with African American historian and scholar Dr. Sherri Arnold Mehta, they created “Juneteenth,” an anthem that honors the soldiers and families who strategized and worked for the freedom of all. This song is based in Dr. Mehta’s research which focuses on letters written by Black men who served in the United States Colored Troops (USCT) during the Civil War. Dr. Mehta is the descendant of two ancestors who served in the USCT. Her ancestor Jefferson Michie, who was present in Galveston, TX on June 19, 1865 for the reading of General Order No. 3, is on the cover art (above) of this song. Do you know the story of Juneteenth? Watch the video for “Juneteenth” below to learn more.

Choose Kind

“I believe the children are our future/Teach them well and let them lead the way.” ~Whitney Houston, “Greatest Love of All”

“I believe the children are our future…”
These lyrics have been running through my head for several weeks now. It first started in late November when I attended a meeting at our local school district. Several of the attendees were wearing really eye-catching t-shirts that said “Choose Kind.” A quick inquiry and several emails later and the entire Youth Services department at my public library were wearing the same t-shirt. To us the message is a crucial reminder to the young people (and the adults too) that in even some of the most difficult circumstances, we should always try to choose kind.

“Teach them well and let them lead the way…”
In the middle of December, I was once again reminded of the lyrics from “Greatest Love of All” when Greta Thunberg was named one of Time magazine’s persons of the year. Thunberg is just the latest in a line of young people, like Malala Yousafzai and the students of Parkland, who are more courageous than most adults by standing up for what they believe in in incredibly public ways. These folks are thoughtful and eloquent and push the rest of us to step out from behind our devices and be brave in our beliefs.

“Show them all the beauty they possess inside…”
Finally, a couple of weeks ago I received the “Love to end the decade” enewsletter from Alphabet Rockers. In the email they highlighted the incredible story of 11-year-olds Lily and Kaia who led children from around the world in making 15,000 origami butterflies that were displayed at the United States Capitol on November 20 in support of migrant children. The story of this undertaking is told through the beautiful, stirring video {see below} for the Alphabet Rockers’s song, “Until You’re Free” (feat. SaulPaul and 123 Andrés). The Butterfly Project proved that when children get together, the strongest message can be conveyed in the most beautiful, unforgettable way.

My goal for 2020 is to be like the children. To be brave and stand up for what I believe in, to act when I see injustices, and above all, to Choose Kind. For the children really are our future and it’s up to us to support and guide them as they lead the way.

2019 Children’s Music Roundup

Welcome to the second annual Kids Rhythm and Rock Children’s Music Roundup! Oh what a year 2019 was for children’s music with a cornucopia of sounds, fantastic messages and moments of fun combining for a true wealth of musical riches, Whether you check the CDs out from the library or listen to them on your favorite streaming service, all of the albums below are definitely worth a listen (or two, or three…). 

 

Best Animal Album Covers
Come for the covers, stay for the amazing music!
Swamp Romp Performed by Johnette Downing with Scott Billington   
Winterland Performed by The Okee Dokee Brothers

 

 

Be Mindful, Be Kind     

   

 

 

 

The Love Performed by Alphabet Rockers
Kindred Performed by Renee & Friends
Under the Big Umbrella Performed by Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could
Ageless: Songs for the Child Archetype Performed by Jon Samson

 

Unique Musical Stylings

    

 

 

 

Finding Friends Far From Home: A Journey with Clara Net Performed by Oran Etkin
Shake It and Break It Performed by Randy Kaplan
Earworm Performed by Sean McCollough

 

Based on a Podcast

 

Backstroke Raptor Performed by The Story Pirates

 

 

 Regional Superstars You Should Know

                                                                         

 

 

 

Put Your Arms in the Air Performed by Cowboy Andy (based in Montana) 
Kith & Kin Performed by Duke Otherwise (based in Wisconsin)   

 

Bilingual/Spanish Albums

          

 

 

 

Canta las Letras Performed by 123 Andrés
Love is Te Quiero Performed by Alina Celeste
Buenos Diaz Performed by The Lucky Band
En la Radio Performed by Nathalia

 

We Only Have One Earth
These albums each contain several songs that celebrate the flora and fauna on this rock we call home. 

     

 

 

 

Can You Feel It? Performed by Jessa Campbell & the Saplings
It Takes a Village Performed by Ginalina
Positronic Performed by Marsha and the Positrons

 

Rock ‘n’ Roll Dads

      

 

 

 

Which One Am I? Performed by Howie D
Growing Up Performed by Josh Lovelace

 

The Long and the Short of It

      

 

 

 

All I Do is Hop Performed by Grin Brigade (29 tracks)
The Robot Performed by Ants Ants Ants (4 tracks)

 

Thank You, and Goodnight!

Album cover for Now That We're Home

 

Now That We’re Home: Lullabies & Love Songs Performed by KB Whirly

2020 Best Children’s Album GRAMMY Nominees

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

Flying High! Performed by Caspar Babypants

I Love Rainy Days performed by Daniel Tashian

The Love Performed by Alphabet Rockers

Winterland Performed by The Okee Dokee Brothers

Song Premiere – “I Know You See Me” performed by Alphabet Rockers

In 2017 Alphabet Rockers landed far outside the realm of traditional children’s music with their groundbreaking GRAMMY-nominated album Rise Shine #Woke. Named to School Library Journal‘s Top 10 list of 2017 that album taught listeners that you are never too young to start a conversation about social justice. Filled with powerful lyrics and engaging rhythms and rhymes, it was the must have hip hop album of the year. Now, almost two years later, Alphabet Rockers are back and better than ever with their new album, The Love.

Recorded on land originally inhabited by the Ohlone people and produced at Zoo Labs in Oakland, California, The Love is a massive musical collaboration incorporating more than 60 guest artists who perform alongside Alphabet Rockers founders Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd.  The themes of love and belonging continue from Rise Shine #Woke to The Love but this time rather than the focus being social justice, the group is turning their attention to gender justice with the goal of the album being to honor the diverse identities within our society. Once again featuring well-thought out, powerful lyrics, The Love is an album that everyone should listen to.

Today it is my great honor to debut the track, “I Know You See Me.” Written as a response to the daily harassment experienced by a transgender/gender non-conforming parent of a four-year-old, this song takes that experience and makes it into something positive.  “I Know You See Me” begins and ends with a gorgeous string performance that captures the emotion of the main character in the song. At the beginning of the track, they are walking down the sidewalk when someone says horrible things to them. Rather than giving that person the power, they embrace their belief in themselves and when Tommy’s character breaks into a hard driving rap, he flips the script and rather than harassing them,  tells them, “You’re the powerful one/All assumptions be gone/You’re the ultimate you just do what you do and I’ll see you thru.” It’s a powerful message of love, acceptance and understanding. A message that we all could stand to hear and to share, no matter how we identify. Learn more about the Alphabet Rockers at www.alphabetrockers.com and listen to “I Know You See Me” on Spotify or Amazon The Love is available to stream now, and will be available on CD beginning August 8.

Kids Music Takes New York City by Storm!

Last weekend the GRAMMY awards left the sun and warmth of Los Angeles to celebrate the big 6-0 back home in New York City. Throughout the City that never sleeps the return of the awards were celebrated and it seemed like everywhere you went, there were announcements for concerts being held during the weekend featuring everyone from Fleetwood Mac to Childish Gambino. But it wasn’t just musical acts for grown-ups in town. NYC was also alive with the sound of children’s music.

 

The first of the two children’s music concerts that I was able to attend over the weekend was held Friday morning at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Sponsored by Kids Rhythm and Rock, Chicago’s own Wendy & DB performed two concerts to benefit the museum, VH1 Save the Music and Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots. These engaging, interactive performances had children up and dancing as they heard songs including, “Pink Flamingo,” “Watersong,” “Girl Superhero,” and the blissfully exhausting “HopScotch.” I don’t know about the little ones, but after those high energy performances, I was just about ready for a nap.

 

 

The second children’s music concert was on Saturday at New York’s Symphony Space as part of their “Just Kidding!” series. This concert, “Best of Family Showcase!” featured live performances by four of the five nominees for the Best Children’s Album GRAMMY. Hosted by Sirius XM’s Kenny Curtis and Mindy Thomas this hour-long musical extravaganza was a true delight from beginning to end.

 

 

Up first was everyone’s favorite drop of sunshine, Gustafer Yellowgold. Aided by his human friend (and creator) Morgan Taylor on guitar and vocals, Gustafer’s escapades from Brighter Side were brought to life for all to enjoy. Those awful “Hot Nights” and how fun it is when “I Jump on Cake” were just a few of the insights shared into Gustafer’s one-of-a-kind life.

 

 

 

Switching gears a bit after Gustafer and Morgan came a pre-recorded message from Ladysmith Black Mambazo.  Nominated for their album Songs of Peace & Love for Kids & Parents Around the World, the group expressed their gratitude for the nomination and performed the song, “Everything is So Stupid.”

 

 

 

Next up was Chicago-based Justin Roberts. Accompanied by producer Liam Davis, Justin performed the very relatable “Must Be This Tall” and “Dodgeball” before inviting Jason Rabinowitz from The Pop-Ups and GRAMMY winner Tim Kubart on stage to join in the title song from Justin’s album, Lemonade.

 

 

 

 

Lisa Loeb, who would go on Sunday to win the GRAMMY award, gave a lovely performance of several of the songs from Feel What U Feel including “Say Hello” and “Moon Star Pie (It’s Gonna Be Alright)” while accompanied by her co-producer Rich Jacques and her keyboardist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final performance of the all-star concert brought the crowd to their feet when Alphabet Rockers took the stage. This Oakland-based crew fundraised so that all of the kids who appeared on their nominated album, Rise, Shine, #Woke could make the trip to perform in New York. And perform they did!

 

 

This Best of Family Showcase! was filled with energy and a love and understanding of all those things big and small that are important in the life of a child. It’s impossible to predict what performers will appear at the showcase next year, but the one thing you can guarantee, is that when it comes to children’s music, whoever gets nominated will be absolutely amazing.

 

Last year was full of fantastic, smart, entertaining music for children. If 2018 is even half as good, it’s going to be a great year. Thank you New York City for embracing children’s music and giving it such wonderful places to shine!!

Best Children’s Album 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 or the blues, there was something for every family. To be considered for the 60th GRAMMY awards, albums had to be released between October 1, 2016 and September 30, 2017. 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, January 28.

Brighter Side performed by Gustafer Yellowgold

Feel What U Feel performed by Lisa Loeb

Lemonade performed by Justin Roberts

Rise Shine #Woke performed by Alphabet Rockers

Songs of Peace & Love for Kids & Parents Around the World performed by Ladysmith Black Mambazo

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