Song Spotlight – “Thank You Teacher” performed by Again Again feat. Mista Cookie Jar

It’s that time of year again. The countdown to the last day of school is on – for the students and the teachers. Parents are looking for goodbye gifts for their children to give to their favorite teachers (everyone needs another mug, right?) and kids are making special cards filled with precious sentiments. To celebrate the gift that is teachers, consider sharing this wonderful new song of gratitude from the dynamic duo Again Again featuring the hip hop stylings of Mista Cookie Jar. Take a listen here.

Album Spotlight – Why Do We Sing performed by Sam Tsui and Casey Breves

Why Do We Sing album cover

If you’re not already one of the 3M+ subscribers of Sam Tsui on YouTube, you will be after listening to this album! Why Do We Sing? is the debut family music album of Tsui and his partner in life and in music, Casey Breves. Billed as the official soundtrack to the book of the same name, Why Do We Sing? has been in non-stop rotation at my house. The duo’s incredible vocals and lyrics, combined with top-notch production value leaves you feeling like you are listening to a Broadway cast recording or soundtrack to the latest hit children’s film. From the first notes of the title track, you know you’re in for a real treat.

Each of the ten songs on this album serves to answer the question – why do we sing? And the answers woven throughout are that we sing to express joy, happiness, and love, and to find confidence and strength in ourselves. We sing alone, and we sing together. Singing shares stories and cultures and shapes our lives. Several of the songs in the collection give off musical theater vibes like the operatic “BIG VOICE” and the swinging holiday showstopper “Carol the Caribou.” The cumulative track “The Greatest Ever Campfire Song” has a catchy chorus that makes it impossible to resist singing along. Organically incorporated into the tracklist are songs featuring musical styles from around the world. From the K-Pop inspired “Showtime” which features the ultimate dance battle for kids and their parents, to “Suniye” a nod to Bollywood that spotlights the vocals of Vidya Vox, and the mariachi stylings of “Las Tres Notas” with special guest Anthony Gonzalez, Tsui and Breves skillfully pay homage to the various cultures while telling stories that entertain and engage. The quietest moments on the album come from the beautiful “The Language of Lullabies” which includes an astounding 50 languages to express the vocabulary of bedtime. 

The picture book Why Do We Sing? is written by Tsui and Breves with illustrations by Tsui. All of the ways that the album answers the question why do we sing (and more!) are depicted in the words and the pictures of the story. As with the soundtrack, the digital illustrations reflect a diverse array of characters and cultures. The pacing of the story and the color palette – steeped in blues and purples with pops of pastels, make Why Do We Sing? a versatile book that can be read with great gusto and excitement during storytime, or a little slower and quieter just before bed.

Why Do We Sing? the soundtrack and the book, are not to be missed!

Video Spotlight – “Calamansi Twist”

  Little Miss Ann is a Chicago-based musician who has been writing and performing family music for nearly twenty years. During that time, she has highlighted various facets of her Filipino heritage, including foods like the wondrous purple yam known as the ube. With her most recent single “Calamansi Twist,” Little Miss Ann and fellow Filipino-American family musicians Mista Cookie Jar and Ronnie Boy Kids, introduce listeners to the calamansi fruit.  The video, a brightly colored, psychedelic dance party is one part ska, two parts pop and 100% fun.  “Calamansi Twist” is the perfect addition to  Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month celebrations and warm weather get togethers. Get up, get down, and calmansi twist all around!