John Lennon Songwriting Contest Grand Prize Winner Kelli Welli (aka Kelli Caldwell) returns with Baby Ninja, her fourth album for families. Kelli’s unique style of mixing genres – a little country here, some rock and pop there, and a sprinkle of punk added in for good measure – is what makes this album stand out. Things kick off with the title song, “Baby Ninja,” a rollicking tale of the speed and stealth of a toddler before mixing in over-the-top fun with songs like “Skunk in a Handstand.” While the music is often bold, Kelli’s songwriting skills are brilliantly on display with lyrics that are loving and supportive on songs such as “Superstar” and “I Put My Heart Into” which describes making things like bread, a quilt and a rocking horse with love. In other instances, children feel empowered when Uncle Jumbo joins Kelli on “You’re a Sunny Day” and as she celebrates the strength of young ones in “Hey Little Hero.” The lively album ends on an unexpectedly quiet note with “Frère Jacques in Five,” a rendition of the traditional tune sung in five different languages.
The fun doesn’t end with the album though. Kelli, along with illustrator Belén Toscano, has created a 40-page graphic novel based on the title track. The album cover for Baby Ninja provides an excellent example of just what spirited mayhem to expect.
Below is the video for the track, “Water Baby.” Kelli says of the song and the video, “I’ve always struggled with fear in water, so I wrote this song to express the awe and happiness I’ve felt watching my kids‘ enjoyment in the water. My daughter, especially, was born a water baby. And I’m so grateful for all my cool friends who came out to celebrate their water babies in this video … and reveal their hidden synchronized swimming talents!” Enjoy!
I love discovering “new-to-me” artists. Often they are like wrapped gifts – you don’t know what’s inside, but you’re excited to open it and find out. That’s how I felt about Sing Along Tim and his new album, Brand New World of Pants. Even though this is Toronto-based Tim Machin’s third studio family music album, this was my introduction to his music. Right away I was intrigued by the album’s name – Brand New World of Pants and fun artwork. Was this going to be a pop album? A collection of silly songs? Is it for preschoolers? Grade school aged kids?
Well, it turns out the answers to those questions are no, some, yes, and yes! Brand New World of Pants is a collection of nine folk rock tracks that cover an eclectic array of subjects including the need to save the trees, the first snowfall, the kinds of shoes you wear throughout the year (running shoes, sandals, snow boots), a typically indecisive cat, and how important it is to just “Sing, Sing, Sing.” Each song has its own flair, but the overall sound is like something straight out of the 1960’s – evoking the feelings of a groovy dance party on the opening track, “The Turnaround,” featuring a frenetic beat on the title track, and a flute solo in the closing song, “When You Are Asleep.”
With engaging lyrics and unique melodies, Brand New World of Pants will appeal to the whole family and entertain children of all ages. Check it out for yourself. Below is the delightful video for “The Turnaround.”
Kymberly Stewart is back with her latest album for children, Everybody Needs a Little Sunshine. While Stewart showed her fun and entertaining side on her last outing Giggles and Curls, this time around, she also infuses every single note with a delightful dose of joy. Stewart sets the tone with the title track, a glorious celebration of the little things that everyone needs in their lives – sunshine, happiness, and rainbows. From there she takes listeners on a tour of musical genres, smoothly switching from gospel to Doo Wop to R&B. Several songs are made to use in storytime or the classroom, including the dance parties “Rock and Roll with You” and “On the Playground.” Stewart’s bold, rich voice, often reminiscent of a young Diana Ross, is the key to conveying lyrics filled with messages of love, kindness, and unity, while still maintaining an aura of bright energy and fun. Everybody Needs a Little Sunshine closes with the perfect bookend to the title track – the showstopper, “We All Live Together” which leaves listeners with the reminder that, “we all live together in this great big beautiful world.”
Refresh your storytimes with the slow-fast crowd pleaser “Little Hip Hop Bunnies.” Check out the video below.
Did you know that there is an annual conference just for those with a passion for children’s music? Whether you are a performer, librarian, teacher, radio host, or PR person, the Children’s Music Network (CMN) Conference is the place to be. Following a three year hiatus of in-person gatherings due to the pandemic and its aftereffects, the conference is returning in a brand new hybrid format and it is my honor to be co-chairing this amazing event along with the incredible Stacey Peasley.
Beginning Sunday, October 29 attendees can enjoy a variety of virtual workshops, song swaps, and affinity groups. Then, on November 3, the fun will continue in-person in Boston. Highlights include – 8 top-of-the-line workshops, 4 song swaps, 1 round robin, and a Keynote Presentation by GRAMMY-winners Alphabet Rockers.
There are a variety of ways to participate. Attendees can register for just the virtual conference, for the in-person conference, or the conference as a whole. However you choose to attend, friendship, fun, and lots and lots of music are guaranteed. Register today and let’s make history!