Fa la la la la – New Christmas Music

I admit it. I capital “L” love Christmas music. For as long as I can remember, it has always played a big part in my holiday season. As a child, stopping by my grandmothers’ homes and listening to their Christmas records featuring crooners like Perry Como, Bing Crosby, and Nat King Cole was always something to look forward to. Singing in the second grade holiday play where I got to dress like an angel and sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” solo is still a childhood highlight. As is joining in with my dad as he washed dishes and practiced a packet of carols for his factory’s Christmas party. But my favorite memory of all was going to church on Christmas Eve. The church would be dark except for a few flickering candles while the choir and the congregation sang Christmas hymns. The story of Jesus’s birth would be told through Bible readings and songs and as the birth grew near, the lights would slowly rise and the music would grow until it felt like it was filling my soul with joy and love.

Over the years, the way that I celebrate the holiday and the people I celebrate with may have changed, but the love, joy, and peace that Christmas music brings me still remains. I used to wait to break out the Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving, but over the past few years, that date has moved up and up. Now, more often than not, I find myself listening to a holiday tune or two right around the first of November. After all, it’s never too early to celebrate love, peace, and joy.

And speaking of joy, there have been several new Christmas songs released by family music artists this season. Today, I’d like to highlight three songs – all original and all full of holiday cheer.

Let’s kick things off with “Merry Christmas to You!” written and performed by Kymberly Stewart for her YouTube show Miss Kym’s Music Place.

Our next song takes us from the preschool set to something the older kids in the family and adults will enjoy. “Merry and Bright” is written and performed by Laura Doherty. The accompanying video lovingly showcases the many local gems found in Andersonville, the Chicago neighborhood Laura calls home.

Finally, to wrap things up, the jazz-infused “Fly Through the Sky” written and performed by Jazzy Ash. Focusing on the flight that Santa and his reindeer take on Christmas night, this delightful lyric video plays like an interactive storybook and will enchant viewers young and grown.

2020 Children’s Music Roundup

Welcome to Kids Rhythm and Rock’s third annual Children’s Music Roundup! For those of you new to the blog, each year I compile a list of my favorite albums, then organize them by categories that change from year-to-year. Normally I would have had this list up by the middle of December, but 2020 being 2020, it threw a last minute curveball that delayed things a bit.

The past year was a time filled with incredible challenges for children’s music. The pandemic found performers having to completely redefine how they brought their music to the masses, racial and social justice came to the forefront, and the GRAMMY controversy spurred the children’s community to action. Through it all though, one constant remained – children’s music continued to grow in ways that left listeners enthralled, enriched, and entertained. So let’s say hello to 2021 by taking a look back at the year that was in Children’s music. Don’t see your favorites in the list below? Add them in the comments!

Note: There has been a lot of discussion in the past few weeks regarding albums by BIPOC performers. I have denoted those albums with an (**). 

Wide World of Music

Fiesta Global performed by Flor Bromley**

Live in LA performed by Aaron Nigel Smith & 1 World Chorus**

Songs Across the Pond performed by David Gibb and Brady Rymer

Unhurried Journey performed by Elena Moon Park**

¡Muévete! performed by José-Luis Orozco**

Let the Good Times Roll

Giggle and Burp Ballet performed by Randy & Dave

Kokowanda Bay performed by Ruth and Emilia

Cats Sit on You performed by The Story Pirates

Camping with Dads performed by Peter Alsop

For the Love of Dads

D.a.d performed by Pierce Freelon**

Wild Life performed by Wild Life

Songs with My Daughters performed by Elliott Park

With a Little Help from My Friends

Imagine That! The Sesame Street Music of Joe Raposo & Jeff Moss performed by Rena Strober and Friends

All The Ladies performed by Joanie Leeds (and friends)

Beautiful Beats

Hey Big World performed by Wendy & DB**

Night Life performed by Sara Lovell

It’s Never Too Early

Be the Change performed by SaulPaul**

Backyard Bop performed by Red Yarn

Be a Pain: An Album for Young (and Old) Leaders performed by Alastair Moock & Friends

Double Duty – Artists who were also authors in 2020

Una Idea Tengo Yo performed by 123 Andrés /Hello Friend, Hola Amigo by 123 Andrés**

Small But Mighty performed by Ginalina/The Mighty River by Ginalina**

Good Foot performed by Jazzy Ash/Viva Durant and the Secret of the Silver Buttons by Ashli St. Amant (Jazzy Ash)**

Rockin’ Rhythms

Hi-Ya! performed by Go Banana Go!

Avocado performed by Rolie Polie Guacamole

Never Mind the Blocks, Here’s Jumpin’ Jamie performed by Jumpin’ Jamie

I’m an Optimist performed by Dog on Fleas

The Short and the Long of It

Honey performed by Frances England (6 songs, 15 minutes)

Awesome! performed by Jesse Jukebox (6 songs, 16 minutes)

Songs for Singin’ performed by The Okee Dokee Brothers (27 songs, 70 minutes)

World Premiere – “Eh La Bas” performed by Jazzy Ash

Debuting on Friday, July 21, Swing Set is the follow-up to Jazzy Ash’s fantastic album, Bon Voyage (2015). Each track on Swing Set is at least 90 years old and found a place on the album after years of research by Jazzy Ash regarding early recordings and songbooks of African-American music. With her new arrangements for a modern generation, the songs and rhymes on this album will be enjoyed by children of all ages.

 

 

In the studio

Premiering today is “Eh La Bas,” the debut single from Swing Set. A traditional New Orleans song that was originally sung in Creole, it was later translated into French, and is performed here with additional verses in English. The video is shot in the recording studio which gives a fun mini-behind-the-scenes look at how a song is recorded, while capturing all the joy of Jazzy Ash and the musicians as they perform the tune. A choir of children is also in the studio and provides a depth to the call and response chorus. Beware, “Eh La Bas” is infectious and may cause spontaneous sing-a-longs to occur. A great kick-off to a fantastic album! Enjoy!!

 

 

I’m Going On a Trip and I’m Taking…

This list of fantastic songs! Are you looking for just the right music to listen to during a summer family road trip? From today through Sunday, June 11 the wonderful variety of songs listed below are available as free downloads. There’s a little something for everyone. Pass it on!

“Transportation” – Danny Weinkauf – Red Pants Band
“Moon Star Pie (It’s Gonna Be Alright)” – Lisa Loeb
“Superhero 2017 REMIX (feat. Carly Ciarrocchi)” – Tim Kubart
“Rolling Down the Hill” – Justin Roberts
“Paletero Man” – Lucky Diaz
“She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” – Jazzy Ash
“Five Green and Speckled Frogs” – Dana
“Mockingbird” – Red Yarn
“The Senses Song” – Little Miss Ann