2021 Children’s Music Roundup

Welcome to Kids Rhythm and Rock’s fourth annual Children’s Music Roundup! For those of you new to the blog, each year rather than doing a best of list, instead, I compile a list of my favorite albums.

2021 was an amazing year for children’s music with innumerable new artists making their way into the spotlight while more established acts continued to create incredible music and forged new musical partnerships with those they met along the way. Let’s say hello to 2022 by taking a look back at “the year that was” in children’s music. Don’t see your favorites listed below? Add them in the comments!

Be Mindful, Be Kind

Music to guide our everyday lives.

  • A Mind of Your Own performed by The Bright Siders
  • Maybe by Next Year performed by Kid Pan Alley
  • Frogs and Birds performed by Lindsay Munroe with Raffi
  • Yoga Dreamland performed by Putamayo

Beautiful Beats

Fun, fantastic tunes to brighten any day.

  • A Colorful World performed by Falu
  • You Are Magic performed by Allison Faith Levy
  • 28 Days performed by Little Miss Ann
  • Make it Happen! performed by Stacey Peasley
  • I Am performed by Shine and the Moonbeams

Potpourri

This was always my favorite Jeopardy! category. In this case, it’s a fun way to group the jazziest jazz, the quirkiest tunes, and songs on some popular topics together.

  • Seconds performed by Ben Tatar and the Tatar Tots
  • It’s for You performed by Flula Borg and Go Banana Go!
  • What Kind of World? performed by Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats
  • Planetary Promenade performed by Billy Kelly
  • From My Head to My Toes performed by Music with Mandy
  • Ponderosa Bunchgrass & the Golden Rule performed by The Oot N’ Oots

Regional Superstars You Should Know

It’s easy to forget that our talented local performers aren’t well known all across the country. Here’s some from the past year everyone should give a try.

  • All Together Now performed by Esther Crow (New York)
  • Music Makes Me Happy performed by Katie Dwyer (New York)
  • The Grumpytime Club performed by Carrie Ferguson (Massachusetts)
  • Sing Your Song Performed by The Harmonica Pocket (Washington)
  • All Together performed by Kathryn the Grape (California)

Rockin’ Rhythms

I dare you to try and sit still while listening to these albums!

  • Crayon Kids performed by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band
  • Ready, Set, Go! performed by Divinity Roxx
  • Invisible performed by Father Goose
  • Family Tree performed by Fyütch
  • Slow Clap performed by Koo Koo Kangaroo

Unique Musical Stylings

There was nothing else quite like these albums this year.

  • Young Maestros, Vol. 1 performed by Tracy Bonham (these could be showtunes)
  • Black to the Future performed by Pierce Freelon (Afrofuturism)
  • Folk for Little Folk, Vol.1 performed by Gordie MacKeeman (award-winning fiddling)
  • Okay to Be Different performed by SaulPaul (rap)
  • The Beat Bach Symphonies performed by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo (rap with a symphony orchestra)
  • The Strawberry Band performed by The Story Pirates (music based on children’s stories)

Visiting with Old Friends

  • Let’s Go! performed by Laurie Berkner
  • Love Me for Who I Am: The Remix performed by Brady Rymer
  • Sharon, Lois & Bram Best of the Best Live performed by Sharon, Lois & Bram
  • We’re All Fruit Salad performed by The Wiggles



Wide World of Music

These albums feature music in Spanish, Spanish and English, and music from as far away as New Zealand.

  • Activate performed by 123 Andrés
  • Pachamama performed by Flor Bromley
  • Danilo & Chapis, Vol 1 performed by Danilo & Chapis
  • Esperanza performed by Sonia De Los Santos
  • Sing Through the Year performed by Claudia Robin Gunn
  • A Mi Me Gusta Ser Yo *It’s Ok To Be Me performed by Twinkle Time

With a Little Help From My Friends

2021 was a year of amazing partnerships and collaborations.

  • All One Tribe performed by 1 Tribe Collective
  • Let It Out! performed by Mil’s Trills
  • Let Love Be Your Guide performed by Dan & Claudia Zanes

Best Children’s Album GRAMMY 2022 Nominees

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – the GRAMMY Award Nominations! The 64th annual GRAMMY award nominations were announced yesterday. 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 September 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021. The GRAMMY Awards will be announced on Monday, January 31.

ActÍvate performed by 123 Andrès

All One Tribe performed by 1 Tribe Collective

Black to the Future performed by Pierce Freelon

A Colorful World performed by Falu

Crayon Kids performed by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

Crayon Kids performed by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

Crayon Kids, is exactly the kind of album we’ve come to expect from Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band – a party for the whole family.   Led by super duo Diaz and his wife Alisha Gaddis, each of the nine tunes has its own unique melody, story, and sound while the energy and high production level provide the album with cohesiveness. There is a richness to the collection with a blend of songs like the title track “Crayon Kids” and “Dedos” that feature things like electric guitars, drums, and saxophone while “Letter C” has a retro 70s vibe with electric keyboard taking center stage and “Sábado” which adds a ska beat to the mix. Add in the slower, stripped down feel of “Another Day” and the dulcet tones of the closing track “Better Together,” featuring Frances England, and you’ll find that there is a little something for everyone. Crayon Kids is a true reflection of how kids are currently moving through life, facing all the challenges that are thrown at them today yet always looking forward to tomorrow. Pick up Crayon Kids and get ready to dance your way through the summer.

Earlier this month Lucky released his first picture book, Paletero Man. Like the song, the book puts the reader in the Eighth Street neighborhood of Los Angeles from which Diaz drew his inspiration. Illustrations by Micah Player perfectly pair with the text giving readers the sense of urgency and joy a child experiences when looking for their favorite summer treat. During these dogs days of summer, after reading Paletero Man, you’ll be wishing for an ice cold paleta to enjoy with your neighborhood friends. Lucky Diaz kindly took the time to answer a few questions about this new venture.

1. You have a fairly deep catalog as a family music artist. How did you decide that Paletero Man was the right song for your first picture book?
Like many of my songs, the inspiration for my book Paletero Man actually came from my family’s real life experiences. My daughter Indy and I traversed to visit the paletero at our local park in Koreatown, Los Angeles, almost daily. On one occasion, she was enjoying her paleta on a hot day and she accidentally dropped it. Seeing this disaster the paletero quickly came to rescue with a fresh paleta, no questions asked. The unsung heroes of our community are really what my story is about.
2. The words and illustrations go together perfectly.  Was this a collaborative process? 
Thank you! Yes! Micah Player and I have a friendship of well over a decade. We seem to finish each other’s sentences so often! There’s a natural sense of collaboration in our friendship that spills over to our creative work. We’re always riffing on ideas. I will say that Micah really took the lead on his illustrations of Paletero Man. I see Micah telling his own LA love story in the pages of Paletero Man. It’s very special
3. Are there more picture books in your future? If so, will they be based on one of your family songs or be a brand new story?
¡Claro que sí! I’m already working on several other picture books. Like Paletero Man, they’re based on their own original narratives and stories. I’m happy to keep my songs separated from the creative process of writing children’s books. I’m having a fun time exploring this new medium of art for children and families.