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.”

Sing Through the Year performed by Claudia Robin Gunn

I have to admit, when I think of children’s music, I don’t often (ok, never) think of New Zealand as a place to turn to for amazing performers. Well, that stops now. New Zealand has a beautiful treasure in children’s music artist Claudia Robin Gunn. Her latest album, Sing Through the YearA Little Wild Childhood, was funded by a Creative NZ 2020 Continuity Grant and is packed with 25 songs that celebrate the seasons, nature, and life in general. Inspired by bright moments and experiences with her children, each track is filled with musical storytelling that just makes my soul happy. Gunn’s indie folk/pop sound is often reminiscent of the Indigo Girls, especially when the uplifting harmonies are given center stage, while still managing to have a modern element that will appeal to all listeners.

Sing Through the Year – the album, is wonderful on its own, but for the full experience, I highly recommend the Sing Through the Year – a Little Wild Childhood Songbook, which is available to American audiences as an ebook. In the songbook, Gunn gives an introduction to each song while Auckland artist Elise De Silva provides charming paintings for each of the tunes. Also included are the lyrics and music/chords for each song as well as a QR code for easy streaming of individual tracks. Whether you choose the album or the entire songbook, Sing Through the Year is just the light summery treat (even when the topic is snowflakes!) that you need.

Claudia, along with many other children’s musicians, will be performing on Saturday, June 5 as part of the SwitchOn Global Telethon to benefit endangered species around the world as part of World Environment Day 2021.