So often Spring is celebrated with the blooming of flowers and arrival of baby animals while Fall is the time when trees are allowed to shine as they lose their leaves and prepare for winter. Suzi Shelton’s new song and video “Magnolia Tree” changes that. This charmingly animated video gives nods to Suzi’s Brooklyn home base while featuring a fantastically diverse group of young friends who gather under a beautiful magnolia tree as its springtime leaves and flowers make an appearance. Created through a collaboration between Dallas-based artist Jackie Land and Venezuela-based illustrator and animator Alcides Urrutia, who has worked with Latin Grammy winners 123 Andrés, the video perfectly pairs Suzi’s light, uplifting vocals with images that capture the freedom that comes with being outside and the joy of finding a special place to hang out with friends. “Magnolia Tree” is the perfect way to kickoff Spring.
Chicagoland’s Nanny Nikki may just be releasing her first original single, but she’s not unfamiliar with children’s music. As a nanny for nearly 15 years, Nikki Rung was able to weave her love of singing into her day job, Now, as a mother, Nikki is putting that love of music and that work experience to good use as her alter ego – Nanny Nikki. In 2020 she debuted several videos featuring classic children’s songs and rhymes as well as “You Sing & I Sing,” a series on Nanny Nikki’s YouTube page. Each episode features Nikki and a very special children’s musician like – Miss Jamie, Stacey Peasley or Red Yarn – performing a wide array of music. Now Nanny Nikki is spreading her wings even further with her first original song, “Keep On Looking.” As the song says, whether you lose a marble, your cape, or your favorite cuddly, don’t give up – keep on looking! Nanny Nikki exudes energy and joy that will draw children in and find them employing their own “binoculars” to keep on looking for things wherever they may go.
There are so many things about “The Mystery Baby” that just tickle me. In this unique take on a bedtime song, the cute storyline tells of a little baby who also dresses like an old school P.I. to fight the bad guys. In a twist toward the end of the song, viewers learn that the Mystery Baby doesn’t go out and about to do battle, but it is in his dreams where he conquers the scary monsters and that listeners can be heroes too – as soon as they go to sleep. The video features images that can also be found in the song’s accompanying picture book created by C.R. Sutherland and illustrated by Nick Decamino. The classic comic style illustrations perfectly capture the whimsy of the song while the smooth, jazz vocals provided by Felice LaZae give it a bit of that film noir quality. I look forward The Mystery Baby’s further adventures coming later this year.
Normally I write a little something to go along with a video. In this case, the video and its message speak for themselves.
Welcome to Shark Week! However, rather than highlighting a song about a family of sharks, instead I want to shed some light on two other creatures of the sea – the giant squid and the colossal squid. In their latest video, Washington, D.C. based Marsha and the Positrons shine a spotlight on these two fascinating creatures. Filled with lots of fun facts about these invertebrates, “Giant & Colossal Squid” is a fun science song from the album Positronic. The lightheartedness of the song is perfectly paired with a video that combines the live action band with animation and simple puppetry. The lyrics appearing on the screen as they are sung is an added bonus and helps listeners to catch all the details being shared about these fascinating animals. Add “Giant & Colossal Squid” to every animal lovers playlist.
Listening to “Marley Sitting on a Pumpkin Seed” has had me thinking a lot about the role that pumpkins have played in my life. Growing up, pumpkins were a big deal at our house. We would grow our own pumpkins, carve them for Halloween and the very next day my mom would cook them down and freeze the pumpkin to be used for pies at Thanksgiving and bread at Christmas. While many folks around us would bake their pumpkin seeds to eat as a snack, we would dry ours out to plant the following year.
As an adult, sometimes we grow our own pumpkins and other times, like this year, we go to a local pumpkin farm and pick some out to take home. Now, rather than carve our pumpkins, we sit them in the front yard and project videos of singing jack o’lanterns on them during Halloween and use them as decoration leading up to Thanksgiving. This November though, the squirrels had a different plan and within two weeks post-Halloween had eaten so much from the inside of the pumpkins that they collapsed in on themselves (the pumpkins, not the squirrels). My husband decided to put the fate of the pumpkins in Mother Nature’s hands and dumped the whole pulpy mess in the garden to see if any of the seeds will surprise us next summer by taking root all on their own.
In Simon Stanley’s recently released bluegrass-infused single, “Marley Sitting on a Pumpkin Seed,” a little tiny girl is sitting on a seed while listening to the music blowing in the breeze. This lyrical video features a lovely image of Marley, created by Auckland designer Rebecca Ter Borg. In the song, Marley is introduced to various instruments while the melody encourages viewers to clap and tap along. Listening to this upbeat ditty, I just close my eyes and imagine that there is a tiny Marley or two enjoying my pumpkin seeds and the music in the leaves as they continue to fall from the trees. “Marley Sitting on a Pumpkin Seed” is the perfect way to bid fall farewell.
When he’s not busy these days being part of the entertaining duo Randy & Dave, Dave Kinnoin and a whole host of friends (including Randy Sharp and Red Grammer) are busy making music as Grin Brigade. The group’s second album, All I Do Is Hop, is filled with 29 songs that cover an incredibly wide range of topics. One of those tracks is the “Dog Alphabet Song.” While the tune is fun to listen to, there’s nothing quite like watching the video that goes along with it. The dog days of summer may already feel like distant memories, but this video featuring dogs of every shape, size and breed, will be the uplifting hit that your fall needs. Brighten any day by watching with the young dog and animal lovers in your life. Can’t catch all the types of dogs as they go by? Check out the lyrics (and chords if you want to try playing it yourself!) here. Enjoy!
Chicago-based children’s music artists Wendy Morgan and Darryl Boggs don’t just talk the talk, they also walk the walk. Along with writing music about helping protect the environment, the animals within it and general messages about having love for one another, for years the duo has donated part of the proceeds from their albums to the VH1 Save the Music Foundation and Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots. While the target audience for the music from their albums is at the preschool through early grade school level, Wendy & DB make time each year to work with local middle and high school students throughout the Chicagoland area to create music that is important not only to the students, but to the larger global community as well.
At the end of 2018, Wendy & DB worked with the HHW Youth Gospel Choir, Easter Seals, A Better Life for Kids, and ABLFK African Signers to create the video for their uplifting song, “Way is Peace.” As the song goes, “Let me show you the way. The way is peace. Let me show you the way. The way is love.” The pure joy of the younger children, the powerful voices of the teens and the messages for peace at the end of the video work together to convey an incredibly simple yet so often unheeded message. All of the proceeds from the sale of “Way is Peace” go to Cure Violence Global.
With their latest song, Wendy & DB take on the topic of immigration. To ensure that the message of “We the People” was properly conveyed, they worked very closely with the students at Chicago’s Sullivan High School where over 80% of the student body is immigrants themselves. Over the course of several months, Wendy, DB and bandmate Dean Rolando worked with Sullivan’s music department as well as several English as a Second Language students to create the lyrics of “We the People.” The images in the video combined with these lyrics depicts the immigrant experience not just of these incredible students but of so many throughout our country. Proceeds from “We the People” as well as the Sullivan High School students version of the song go to the immigrant support organization RefugeeOne.