Song Spotlight – “Joy, Spice, Soul”

In children’s music, something incredible happened as a direct result of the pandemic – collaboration. Sure, artists worked together on occasion before, but never like they do today. “Joy, Spice, Soul” is a perfect example of just one of the amazing collaborations happening right now. On this uplifting track, two-time GRAMMY winner Lucy Kalantari is joined by brand new GRAMMY winner Falu and GRAMMY nominee Fyütch in creating a slice of happiness. In this jazzy, upbeat tune, the basic melody remains constant as each of the performers brings their own style of music (jazz, soul, classical Indian) to the lyrics. When their voices join together, it’s pure magic. As they aptly declare, “We bring different flavors but sing the same song/Brothers and sisters let’s all sing along.” Take a listen below while you dance around the room celebrating the “Joy, Spice, Soul” in life!

Video Spotlight – “I Choose Happy” performed by Birdie

“I choose happy, it looks good on me. I choose joy and I am free.” These are the opening lines to the chorus of “I Choose Happy,” the newest song from Birdie (California-based duo Teresa Gasca-Burk and Gary Burk). Sung while children play in the park, laughing, and enjoying being with one another, these lyrics, as well as the rest in this sweet, up-tempo song, encourage young viewers to embrace the goodness in life and share it with those around them – a message and reminder that we could all use once in a while. Watching this video, you’ll have no choice but to smile and be happy!

Falu Takes Home the GRAMMY!

After Covid-related delays, the 64th Annual GRAMMY awards were held today. All of the nominees in the Best Children’s Album category hit the red carpet (check out their social media feeds!) in Las Vegas looking dapper and divine. After a controversy laden nomination process last year, the 2022 GRAMMY nominees were the most diverse field yet featuring albums from 123 Andrès, Pierce Freelon, Falu, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, and the vast array of performers known as 1 Tribe Collective. In the end there could only be one winner and this year’s award went to two-time nominee, first-time GRAMMY winner Falu for her album A Colorful World! Huge congratulations go out to Falu and all of the nominees. Once again you have proven how beautiful, powerful, and fun children’s music can be.

Welcome Spring performed by Little Miss Ann

Chicago’s Little Miss Ann kicks off spring 2022 with her new EP, Welcome Spring. Released through 8 Pound Gorilla Records and produced by Dean Jones, Welcome Spring is a joyous celebration that lifts the spirits. Featuring an array of special guests like Suzi Shelton, Uncle Jumbo, and Flor Bromley, each song is filled with lyrics that engage and delight listeners with repeating choruses that encourage singing along. Multi-layered instrumentation and top-notch production gives the pop tunes a fun edginess while highlighting themes such as the arrival of spring, the universal consumption of rice, and the fact that there are so many ways to be happy, smart, brave, etc. The title track, “Welcome Spring,” is out today and  aptly captures all the emotions that come with finally being able to shed your boots and mittens and tell Old Man Winter that he’s no longer needed. The video features a brilliant color palette that paints the perfect springtime picture while an inclusive cast of diverse characters revel in the change of the seasons. Check out the video below. The full Welcome Spring EP is available on streaming services beginning April 1.

Video Spotlight – “Thanks to the Doctors and Nurses” performed by Daria

Welcome to the second of two videos in this spotlight series highlighting songs that have come out in this new phase of the pandemic-era. Following up Monday’s “Fauci Ouchie” is the latest single from Daria, “Thanks to the Doctors and Nurses.” With four decades of experience as a songwriter, folk singer, and ethnomusicologist, Daria uses her expertise as a pioneer in world music for children to create a beautiful tribute to the women and men who continue to work tirelessly to keep us safe and healthy, whether or not there is a pandemic. The unusual melody line of “Thanks to the Doctors and Nurses” takes unexpected dips and turns while being perfectly paired with engaging animation that features a diverse cast. This video will engage children and leave them wanting to show a little kindness by saying thank you to all of the doctors and nurses they encounter in their lives.

Video Spotlight – “Fauci Ouchie” Performed by Joanie Leeds

The coming week is going to be very interesting. After two years of masking and social distancing and vaccinations, we are now entering a new stage that basically says, “it’s ok to go back to life as you knew it.” For some, it’s a time of jubilation. For others, it’s a time of uneasiness. No matter your view on it though, I hope that we are all able to be respectful of one another’s decisions (to mask, or not to mask) and to show one another kindness in the days and weeks to come.

This week, as we work our way through this next stage in the pandemic, I am highlighting two recent children’s music videos. Today’s video comes from GRAMMY-winner Joanie Leeds and was just released on Friday. Featuring Joanie and her six-year-old daughter Joya, “Fauci Ouchie” is a fun, catchy tune with the goal of taking the scariness out of getting vaccinated. While the lyrics specifically mention the Fauci Ouchie, the song and video are general enough that it could be used for years to come to ease the fears of young children as they face the many vaccination shots that are necessary throughout their early lives.

Video Spotlight “Alien Babies From Outer Space”

I always enjoy it when an artist moves beyond their typical musical stylings and tries something new. That is exactly what Steve Pullara & His Cool Beans Band did recently with the video for their latest single, “Alien Babies From Outer Space.” This fun, quirky, electronica-filled tune is brought to life with retro-fueled imagery that recalls the early days of science fiction films. Children will love bopping around to the beat while watching the escapades of the adorably portrayed alien babies who are “coming to take us away!” 

You Are Not Alone from Alphabet Rockers

If you’ve been on social media in the past couple of weeks you’ve probably seen people posting about the 10 Year Challenge, which is just a picture of you from 10 years ago and one from today. As I was mulling over how to celebrate the release date of You Are Not Alone, the beautiful new picture book from Alphabet Rockers, I remembered this challenge and decided to take a stroll down memory lane and check out some of their early albums from my local library’s prolific music collection. Imagine my surprise when I realized that the first album I picked up…

…was from 2012!! That’s right! A decade ago, before they became the powerhouse champions for social justice they are today, Alphabet Rockers was creating a dance party of “learning, fitness, and early literacy.”

Fast forward 10 years to today and the debut of You Are Not Alone.

While Alphabet Rockers still believe in the things that made Go! so special, their messages have changed to reflect the world in which we live. You Are Not Alone is a bright, engaging picture book which encourages young readers (and as you’ll see below, young viewers) to love who they are, to celebrate all identities, and to “use their voices against hate.” The illustrations beautifully tell the story and when combined with the lyrical prose (“You don’t know me, but I bet you see the sun rise and set like I do…If you really knew me, when you’d see me you would think: You are Powerful, You are brave, You are brilliant”), makes readers want to reach out a hand to those around them and say, “You are not alone. I got you.” To learn more about how the story for You Are Not Alone came about and the process of creating the illustrations, visit We Need Diverse Books for a Q&A with Alphabet Rockers and illustrator Ashley Evans.

Check out the companion music video and song for You Are Not Alone below.

2021 Children’s Music Roundup

Welcome to Kids Rhythm and Rock’s fourth annual Children’s Music Roundup! For those of you new to the blog, each year rather than doing a best of list, instead, I compile a list of my favorite albums.

2021 was an amazing year for children’s music with innumerable new artists making their way into the spotlight while more established acts continued to create incredible music and forged new musical partnerships with those they met along the way. Let’s say hello to 2022 by taking a look back at “the year that was” in children’s music. Don’t see your favorites listed below? Add them in the comments!

Be Mindful, Be Kind

Music to guide our everyday lives.

  • A Mind of Your Own performed by The Bright Siders
  • Maybe by Next Year performed by Kid Pan Alley
  • Frogs and Birds performed by Lindsay Munroe with Raffi
  • Yoga Dreamland performed by Putamayo

Beautiful Beats

Fun, fantastic tunes to brighten any day.

  • A Colorful World performed by Falu
  • You Are Magic performed by Allison Faith Levy
  • 28 Days performed by Little Miss Ann
  • Make it Happen! performed by Stacey Peasley
  • I Am performed by Shine and the Moonbeams

Potpourri

This was always my favorite Jeopardy! category. In this case, it’s a fun way to group the jazziest jazz, the quirkiest tunes, and songs on some popular topics together.

  • Seconds performed by Ben Tatar and the Tatar Tots
  • It’s for You performed by Flula Borg and Go Banana Go!
  • What Kind of World? performed by Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats
  • Planetary Promenade performed by Billy Kelly
  • From My Head to My Toes performed by Music with Mandy
  • Ponderosa Bunchgrass & the Golden Rule performed by The Oot N’ Oots

Regional Superstars You Should Know

It’s easy to forget that our talented local performers aren’t well known all across the country. Here’s some from the past year everyone should give a try.

  • All Together Now performed by Esther Crow (New York)
  • Music Makes Me Happy performed by Katie Dwyer (New York)
  • The Grumpytime Club performed by Carrie Ferguson (Massachusetts)
  • Sing Your Song Performed by The Harmonica Pocket (Washington)
  • All Together performed by Kathryn the Grape (California)

Rockin’ Rhythms

I dare you to try and sit still while listening to these albums!

  • Crayon Kids performed by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band
  • Ready, Set, Go! performed by Divinity Roxx
  • Invisible performed by Father Goose
  • Family Tree performed by Fyütch
  • Slow Clap performed by Koo Koo Kangaroo

Unique Musical Stylings

There was nothing else quite like these albums this year.

  • Young Maestros, Vol. 1 performed by Tracy Bonham (these could be showtunes)
  • Black to the Future performed by Pierce Freelon (Afrofuturism)
  • Folk for Little Folk, Vol.1 performed by Gordie MacKeeman (award-winning fiddling)
  • Okay to Be Different performed by SaulPaul (rap)
  • The Beat Bach Symphonies performed by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo (rap with a symphony orchestra)
  • The Strawberry Band performed by The Story Pirates (music based on children’s stories)

Visiting with Old Friends

  • Let’s Go! performed by Laurie Berkner
  • Love Me for Who I Am: The Remix performed by Brady Rymer
  • Sharon, Lois & Bram Best of the Best Live performed by Sharon, Lois & Bram
  • We’re All Fruit Salad performed by The Wiggles



Wide World of Music

These albums feature music in Spanish, Spanish and English, and music from as far away as New Zealand.

  • Activate performed by 123 Andrés
  • Pachamama performed by Flor Bromley
  • Danilo & Chapis, Vol 1 performed by Danilo & Chapis
  • Esperanza performed by Sonia De Los Santos
  • Sing Through the Year performed by Claudia Robin Gunn
  • A Mi Me Gusta Ser Yo *It’s Ok To Be Me performed by Twinkle Time

With a Little Help From My Friends

2021 was a year of amazing partnerships and collaborations.

  • All One Tribe performed by 1 Tribe Collective
  • Let It Out! performed by Mil’s Trills
  • Let Love Be Your Guide performed by Dan & Claudia Zanes

Fa la la la la – New Christmas Music

I admit it. I capital “L” love Christmas music. For as long as I can remember, it has always played a big part in my holiday season. As a child, stopping by my grandmothers’ homes and listening to their Christmas records featuring crooners like Perry Como, Bing Crosby, and Nat King Cole was always something to look forward to. Singing in the second grade holiday play where I got to dress like an angel and sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” solo is still a childhood highlight. As is joining in with my dad as he washed dishes and practiced a packet of carols for his factory’s Christmas party. But my favorite memory of all was going to church on Christmas Eve. The church would be dark except for a few flickering candles while the choir and the congregation sang Christmas hymns. The story of Jesus’s birth would be told through Bible readings and songs and as the birth grew near, the lights would slowly rise and the music would grow until it felt like it was filling my soul with joy and love.

Over the years, the way that I celebrate the holiday and the people I celebrate with may have changed, but the love, joy, and peace that Christmas music brings me still remains. I used to wait to break out the Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving, but over the past few years, that date has moved up and up. Now, more often than not, I find myself listening to a holiday tune or two right around the first of November. After all, it’s never too early to celebrate love, peace, and joy.

And speaking of joy, there have been several new Christmas songs released by family music artists this season. Today, I’d like to highlight three songs – all original and all full of holiday cheer.

Let’s kick things off with “Merry Christmas to You!” written and performed by Kymberly Stewart for her YouTube show Miss Kym’s Music Place.

Our next song takes us from the preschool set to something the older kids in the family and adults will enjoy. “Merry and Bright” is written and performed by Laura Doherty. The accompanying video lovingly showcases the many local gems found in Andersonville, the Chicago neighborhood Laura calls home.

Finally, to wrap things up, the jazz-infused “Fly Through the Sky” written and performed by Jazzy Ash. Focusing on the flight that Santa and his reindeer take on Christmas night, this delightful lyric video plays like an interactive storybook and will enchant viewers young and grown.

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