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.

 

 

 

New Raffi! – Dog on the Floor

It’s hard to believe that with the July 27th debut of Dog on the Floor, Raffi released his 25th album, but at 70 years young, that is exactly what he did. Listening to a Raffi album makes you feel like you are wrapped up in a blanket warm from the dryer on a cold, rainy day and this album is no exception. From beginning to end it is filled with love. Love for nature, love for each other and love for oneself.

Several of the songs on the album are an ode to Luna, Raffi’s two-year-old border collie/poodle puppy. One of those tracks is “Luna’s Song” which paints a vivid picture of Luna with lyrics like “black and gray with tufts of gold,” “four little paws, soft and white,” and “big brown eyes look my way and Luna is her name.” Another song that aptly captures the relationship between a human and his dog in the jazzy “Walkin’ My Dog” in which Raffi sings “I wake up in the morning and think about walkin’ my dog” and of the dog, “She wakes up in the morning, thinks about walkin’ her dad.”

Other songs in this 15-track collection include “Market Day” and “Play Play Play” which are filled with lots of repetition to encourage listeners to sing along, a gorgeous version of the Beatles tune “Here Comes the Sun” which will enthrall children and adults alike, the fantastic stringed instrument jam, “Fiddle Dance” and the lovely “Rainbow” which starts with the soft, smooth singing of the line “I’ve been working on the railroad” that moves on to ask, when will my rainbow find me.

Raffi wraps up the album with two songs that directly address the needs of our children. The first is “Take a Breath” an important song reminding children (and the grown ups around them) that when we’re not doing fine and we want to be well, take a breath or two, be still, sing a song or two, and soon you will feel better. The bonus track uses the phrase “It takes a village” for it’s title and refrain and is a beautiful, gentle reminder that we are all (parents, teachers, librarians, neighbors) responsible for fostering future generations who will love and care for the earth and others.

It’s amazing that four decades into a career a musician is able to still produce songs that are entertaining, impactful and sure to be pleasing audiences for generations to come, but Raffi is doing just that. Another beautiful album for all to enjoy!

My First Raffi Concert

I have to admit, I didn’t listen to Raffi as a child. Somehow his music didn’t make it to our tiny corner of the world so I was raised on a steady diet of Sesame Street and Broadway musicals. Once I became a librarian though, I quickly became acquainted with storytime staples like “Shake My Sillies Out” and “Down By the Bay” and was soon a Raffi fan. Over the years I have enjoyed each of Raffi’s albums and appreciated the way he has always remained true to himself and his style of music. Then, last year I interviewed Raffi via phone for School Library Journal and my admiration for him only increased. Raffi is not just an amazing musician but a strong advocate for children and childhood and being able to have a conversation with him was a great honor.

At this point in my career, I’d listened to Raffi’s albums and talked to him on the telephone (not the bananaphone), but had never seen him perform live. Until this past Sunday. It was a beautiful spring day in Chicago and Raffi was in town as part of his 40th Anniversary tour (yes, 40 years of Raffi!) and I was fortunate enough to get a couple of tickets. Not having any small children to accompany me to the concert, I decided to go to the other end of the spectrum and took my 76-year-old dad with me. And what a great time we had.

Before the concert, mothers and fathers could be heard throughout the theater saying, “Raffi’s going to sing,” “Raffi’s coming out soon,” “Are you excited to see Raffi?” And then, at ten minutes after 1:00, there he was, the man we had all been waiting to see. The only things on the stage were a stool, a chair, a glass of water, a microphone, a guitar stand, and some bananas, but from the moment Raffi stepped on stage he had the attention of every big one and little one in the house. He jumped right in with some traditional songs weaving his own songs in as well. He sang all his classics including “Apples and Bananas,” “Baby Beluga” and “Love Bug” and with every song, the audience sang along. At one point, my dad leaned over and said in awe, “The children know all of the words.”

There were a couple of really poignant moments during the concert. The first being when Raffi paid tribute to his friend Pete Seeger with a beautiful rendition of “This Land is Your Land.” He sang the first stanza using the landmarks of Canada (Raffi calls Canada home) and the rest of the song using the traditional American landmarks. The second moment was when the whole building quieted down while he sang “Thanks A Lot.”

The concert ended with a quick zip through any of his classics that he hadn’t already performed and a rousing singalong of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” The concert may have only been an hour long, but it was by far, the best hour of the whole week.

I was very fortunate on Sunday because my Raffi concert going experience didn’t end there. I had the great honor of participating in the meet and greet following the concert. My dad and I stood in line behind a couple of dozen families as they each took their turn meeting their idol. Raffi’s meet and greet is a very personal experience. He doesn’t sit behind a table putting a barrier between him and you. He sits in a chair with another beside him for all of his new friends. He takes time to talk with each family, give hugs where they are wanted, signs books and CDs and poses for pictures. Raffi is soft-spoken, humble and kind. It was such a pleasure to meet him. Much like my first concert, my first Raffi concert is filled with memories I will never forget.

Are YOU Ready for Valentine’s Day?

Are you looking for just the right songs to share in your classroom, during storytime or as a family on Valentine’s Day? From today through Tuesday, February 14 the wonderful variety of songs listed below are available as free downloads. There’s a little something for everyone. Pass along the love and kindness!

“Valentine (I Don’t Want to Be Yours)” – Justin Roberts
“Lovestruck Unicorn” – Recess Monkey (2017 GRAMMY nominee)
“L.O.V.E.” – Little Miss Ann
“Love Bug” – Raffi
“Closer to You” – Frances England (2017 GRAMMY nominee)
“You Can Count on Me” – Lisa Loeb
“Your Love Turns the World Around” – Brady Rymer (2017 GRAMMY nominee)
“Loving and Kind” – Aaron Nigel Smith
“Til There Was You” – Lucky Diaz
“Cancion de Amor” – 123 Andrs