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

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.

 

 

 

All the Sounds Performed by Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats

My introduction to Lucy Kalantari’s special brand of family jazz music was her fall 2017 holiday EP It’s the Holidays! and I’m so glad that she’s back with this full length album.  This jazz age inspired collection of ten original songs is a real delight. Each song has its own unique identity filled with complex melodies and engaging lyrics, yet they all fit together to make a beautiful whole.

Once again Kalantari is backed by the highly talented Jazz Cats who really get to shine on numbers like “Ain’t No Dog Like Mister,” a tribute to Billie Holiday’s dog Mister which allows for some great clarinet solos as well as the tango accented “Howl to the Moon” which opens with a gorgeous cello solo that leads to vocals backed by a swaying bass beat as it tells the story of a werewolf who longs for the evening when he can dance with his friends.

Songwriting really takes the spotlight when Kalantari skillfully weaves other musical genres into her tunes. The quick paced “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” features an original rap by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo wrapped in a jazz number that emphasizes the importance of understanding your fears and asking listeners “Can you turn that bad into something good?” Another fun blend of musical genres occurs in “Bunny Hop” where the main character in the song gets to know Mr. Opera Man (real life opera singer Adelmo Guidarelli), the next door neighbor, who operatically proclaims, “I love bunnies!” Listeners will quickly  find themselves hopping and thumping along to this tune.

While all of these songs are great for family listening, there are also several that would be nice additions to a storytime, program, or classroom lesson. “I Know a Little Fellow” could work to introduce children to musical terms as Kalantari’s talented 5 1/2-year-old son demonstrates on the cello the terms she sings about such as pluck, bow, pizzicato, pianissimo, and fortissimo. “La Cosecha” is a fun bilingual song that would fit nicely into a storytime about gardening or community that introduces listeners to a wide variety of vegetables in both English and Spanish. Finally, “The Peace Song” is a lovely call and response song with a special message.

All the Sounds is a joy from beginning to end. Families will find themselves listening to it again and again.

 

It’s the Holidays! Performed by Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats

It’s hard to believe that we’ve already reached the time of year when the stores put all of the Thanksgiving items on clearance, the pre-Black Friday sales begin, and local radio stations start playing Christmas music. And all of that before the family has even arrived to enjoy the abundance of deliciousness known as Thanksgiving dinner. So, since all signs point to it being “that time of year,” over the next month I’ll be highlighting several new family albums that celebrate the holidays.

First up is the delightful It’s the Holidays! from Brooklyn-based Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats. This collection of five jazz age inspired originals celebrates the holidays between Halloween and New Year’s. The album kicks things off with the clever “My Mommy is a Mummy” (keep this one in mind for Halloween 2018) and is followed by “Grateful,” a rare song about Thanksgiving. This is a lovely tune about family and food, but also about the importance of putting aside our differences and acknowledging those things in life for which we are grateful. Take a listen.

Just as the seasons transition from fall to winter, so do the songs on this album. “It’s Snowing” gets listeners thinking about how fun it is to get all bundled up to go outside and of all the exciting things children can do in the snow when they get there. This fast-paced song would work great in winter-themed storytimes as kids dance to the various activities described in the song like stomp, jump, run, slide, and climb. “It’s Snowing” also acts as a nice bridge to the final two songs on the album.

The title track, “It’s the Holidays!” is a bouncy celebration of Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and a lovely New Year. The refrain, “It’s the holidays in our community/we celebrate all in unity,” encourages listeners to take the time to honor our differences. Finally, the album is capped off with “That’s a Wrap!” a short (1:37 min.) tune that tells listeners “Let’s wrap up this year and say goodbye” and would be a great addition to any New Year’s Eve programs.

While shorter than the average album, Kalantari, backed by a group of amazing musicians, has created an album that families will listen to again and again. It’s the Holidays! is the perfect start to “the most wonderful time of the year.”