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

Video Premiere “You Are Magic” performed by Triple Rainbow

Introducing Triple Rainbow, the latest kindie group to come out of the Portland, Oregon area. Today marks the release of “You Are Magic,” the title track off of their debut album. The video for “You Are Magic” is an explosion of color mixed with pure joy as the wonders of the imagination are played out in fun snippets that bring the lyrics to vibrant life. One of the great things about the video is that the costumes, props, and decorations are presented in such a way that while they look great, could still be recreated by viewers or encourage families to use their imaginations to create their own at home. 

All of the tracks on You Are Magic are written and performed by family band Triple Rainbow whose members include Jared Mees and his daughters July (9) and Piper (4).  Mees describes the band’s vibe as being like, “Green Day meets Shel Silverstein and Sia at a Flaming Lips show inside a children’s museum.” Whether the track has a rock, techno, or pop feel, the message of kindness, understanding, and creativity shines through. The album cover for You Are Magic, was designed by Ryan Berkley after being given the directive to make it one part Green Day and one part Dr. Seuss and features characters from each of the the album’s songs. You Are Magic will be released on January 21, 2022 but is available for presale today.

While you wait for the album to be released, enjoy the video for the title track, “You Are Magic” below.

 

2021 Latin GRAMMY Nominees

The 22nd Latin GRAMMY Awards will be held on Thursday, November 18. In preparation for the big night, take a listen to the five Spanish language albums that were nominated in the Best Latin Children’s Album category. Do you have a favorite?

Outra Vuelta al Sol from Cantoalegre

Canciones de Cuna from Mi Casa es Tu Casa

Nanas Consentidoras from Victoria Sur

Tu Rockcito Filharmonico from Tu Rockcito y Orquesta filharmonica de Medellin

Is it Halloween yet?

 

As I mentioned in my last post, October is one of the favorite times of the year at my house. One of the reasons for that is that our wedding anniversary is on October 31. We chose that date specifically because it was Halloween (and it was a Saturday). Guests wore costumes, there was a jack o’ lantern on the top of the cake and the reception was decorated with giant tombstones. While the wedding and reception celebrated a more modern version of Halloween, the invitations and the rest of the graphics all featured classic Halloween images like the one to the left. As soon as I started watching the video below, it immediately reminded me of those images and transported me to a different time.

 

EVT Kids is making a name for themselves on the children’s music scene. Yvette and Tom lead this bilingual family band with their two daughters joining in the fun. The video for their latest song, “Spooky Halloween Night,” features gray and black illustrations reminiscent of Halloween artwork from several different time periods. The vocals harken back to a bygone era that brings eerie jazz elements to the song making the tone just spooky enough to enjoy but not too scary to listen to. Make sure to watch all the way to the end so that you don’t miss a surprise rap that somehow fits right in. The melody to “Spooky Halloween Night” will haunt you (in a good way!) for days to come.

Before you celebrate your own spooky Halloween night, make sure to take a listen to the new Halloween EP Little, Wild and Spooky! from New Zealand children’s artist Claudia Robin Gunn. This three song collection includes “Spooktacular!” a clever counting song that includes suggestions for different types of vegetables that you can carve, “Leaf Skeletons” that imagines what would happen if the skeleton leaves at the bottom of the pile started dancing, and “Friendly Monsters” that celebrates dressing up, costume parties, and imaginary friends.

Little, Wild and Spooky! is available on most streaming services and can be previewed on Claudia’s Bandcamp page.

That’s it for the Halloween editions of Kids Rhythm and Rock! I hope you have a thrilling All Hallows’ Eve filled with all the tricks and treats you dream of!

October Celebrations

Oh, it’s so good to be back! After an unexpected hiatus, it feels great to once again be surrounded by the talent, generosity, and kindness of the children’s music world. And what better time of the year to return than during the magical, mystical, pumpkin-spiced delight that is October. So much incredible children’s music debuted while I was gone, and we’ll get to that in the coming weeks, but for today, I want to celebrate the season that in my house is “the most wonderful time of the year” by featuring new videos that shine a spotlight on two upcoming holidays.

The first video is “Halloween Crew” from Little Miss Ann. The muted, almost sepia tones, of the animation perfectly match the slightly spooky lyrics which appear on the screen. Children will love singing along while pretending to be different members of the Halloween Crew. 

The second video is for a Spanish language song from Colombian-born, Los Angeles-based Nathalia, that celebrates Día de los Muertos. Beautiful, brightly colored animation highlights all of the elements that go into honoring the lives of loved ones who have come and gone. Lyrics are available in both Spanish and English on Nathalia’s website.

Video Spotlight – “1 4 3” performed by Andy Z

While everyday should be Mister Rogers Day, the official celebration as declared by Mister Rogers’s home state of Pennsylvania is May 23. Why May 23? It’s the 143rd day of the year which also happens to be Mister Rogers’s favorite number. But 143 is not just any random number. In fact it holds a lot of significance. For Mister Rogers, 143 symbolized “I Love You.” I is one letter long, love is four letters long and you is three, hence 143. Veteran children’s performer Andy Z has taken 143 and created a lovely song in the spirit of Mister Rogers and his philosophy of kindness and love. His video, “1 4 3,” explains the meaning of 143 set against a colorful, joyful animated background. As the normalcy of life returns, it’s more important than ever to remember that we need to continue to care about one another and show that care in big and little acts of kindness. Don’t just sit there, get out and spread the love! 

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.

Video Spotlight – “Juneteenth” performed by Fyütch and Alphabet Rockers

On June 17, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, making June 19 a federal holiday. Today’s video spotlight commemorates and celebrates Juneteenth. Music and social justice artists Fyütch and Alphabet Rockers have teamed up to set the historical record straight on the emancipation of slaves in the United States. Working with African American historian and scholar Dr. Sherri Arnold Mehta, they created “Juneteenth,” an anthem that honors the soldiers and families who strategized and worked for the freedom of all. This song is based in Dr. Mehta’s research which focuses on letters written by Black men who served in the United States Colored Troops (USCT) during the Civil War. Dr. Mehta is the descendant of two ancestors who served in the USCT. Her ancestor Jefferson Michie, who was present in Galveston, TX on June 19, 1865 for the reading of General Order No. 3, is on the cover art (above) of this song. Do you know the story of Juneteenth? Watch the video for “Juneteenth” below to learn more.

Coming Juneteenth – All One Tribe

I don’t have the adequate words to describe All One Tribe, but I’m still going to try. This album, this incredible collection of music, is brimming with life and love. After a year when Black artists were shut out of the GRAMMY nominations and nationwide protests were held following the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the road to All One Tribe began when co-producers Shawana “Shine” Kemp, Amelia Robinson, and Aaron Nigel Smith gathered together a group of 24 Black family music artists from across the country to create the 1 Tribe Collective

The goal of the project is to expand public awareness of these diverse children’s songwriters, and to remind the world that Black families do not represent a monolith. The 1 Tribe Collective hopes to give young people and families permission to live out loud and celebrate their uniqueness. The performers on All One Tribe, the first ever Black collective family music album, represent a broad spectrum of musical genres and the 25 songs that are included cover a wide range of topics with the tracks so skillfully laid out that the almost 90-minute running time seems to go by in a flash. Normally I would highlight a song or two at this point, but there aren’t any lowlights on this tour de force. There is something for everyone here – whether you’re looking for a song to dance around the house to, or something more lullaby like to soothe the soul. The true beauty of the album lies in the song selections and the celebration of the Black experience in a way that is accessible to families and children of all ages.

I want to end with the list of tracks from the album. That’s not something I would usually do, but in this case, I think this list of performers and songs perfectly reflects the depth and richness of All One Tribe. Oh, just one more thing – don’t forget All One Tribe comes out on Juneteenth, June 19.

All One Tribe  Track List  

 1. Various Artists | One Tribe 3:47

2. Alphabet Rockers | Shine (Melanin Remix) 4:15

3. Fyütch|  Family Reunion (feat. Divinity Roxx) 3:27

4. Ms. Niki | Rainbow 3:24

5. Rissi Palmer | Little Black Boy, Little Black Girl (feat. Bryan Owens) 3:22

6. SaulPaul | Motivation (International Remix) 3:19

7. The Magic Jones | Clap Your Hands 2:22

8. Uncle Jumbo | GO 100 2:59

9. Shine & The Moonbeams | I Believe 3:13

10. Roy Moye III | Black Lives Made STEM History 3:14

11. Kymberly Stewart | Beautiful Brown Babies 3:09

12. Pierce Freelon | Cootie Shot (feat. Divinity Roxx) 2:28

13. Culture Queen | I Am the Future of Black History 2:46

14. Melanie DeMore | We All Live 1:50

15. Nanny Nikki | Playground Day 3:52

16. Aaron Nigel Smith | March Together (feat Shine & the Moonbeams) 2:39

17. Robbi K | Set It Free 6:00

18. Uncle Devin | A DC Fun Day 3:25

19. DJ WILLY WOW! | Nothing Wrong with the Black Crayon 3:00

20. The Wise Channel | For All 2:54

21. Jessica DeShong | Black People Who Change the World 5:16

22. Groovy Nate | Respect Everybody 4:22

23. Ms. Janis | Say Their Names 5:12

24. Jabali Afrika | Mtoto Mzuri (feat. Ahadi) 3:56

25. SNOOKNUK | We’re All the Same 3:05

Video Premiere “Hard to be Happy” performed by Esther Crow

Esther Crow made her entrée into children’s music with her band Thunder & Sunshine’s 2017 album, This is Thunder & Sunshine. Just a handful of years later, Esther returns with All Together Now, her first solo album for families which is set to be released on June 25. The first video from the album, “It’s so Easy Being Green” debuted on May 21 and detailed simple ways we can help the planet by changing our daily habits. Today, I am pleased to premiere “Hard to be Happy,” the second video from All Together Now

 

Written in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, Esther says of “Hard to be Happy,” “I was hoping to find a way to reach the very young, and to highlight the importance of empathy for others and acceptance of ourselves. I continue to struggle with the fact that people are persecuted for the color of their skin, or for whom they love.” To that end, the video features a conversation and duet between Bernie the Bee and Moonice the Cow, two of Esther’s signature paperbag-style felt puppets.  In “Hard to be Happy” Moonice is struggling with the fact that instead of being black and white, Moonice is red and purple, while Bernie is coming to terms with being a bee who loves anchovies instead of flowers. While each character is facing challenges and things that make them sad, they know that they will be ok because they have each other.

Created by Jeff Lewonczyk, the simple nature of the puppets makes the theme of being yourself in order to be happy even more accessible to young listeners. The static background, puppetry, and music with a message gives “Hard to be Happy” a retro vibe, calling to mind children’s programs of the 70s and 80s. Bernie and Moonice (and Esther too) give listeners much to think about.  “Hard to be Happy” ends with a courage-filled pledge that we should all adopt, “We’ll live our lives unafraid. We’ll be brave.”

1 2 3 20