Children’s Music Network Conference

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!

Spotlight – GRAMMY nominees Alphabet Rockers

Today I am very excited to shine the spotlight on Alphabet Rockers. Led by co-founders Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd, the group has evolved from offering poppy, light hip hop songs about everyday concepts that are geared toward younger children, to creating music that is “healing, reflects who we are, and empowers us.” The collective already garnered GRAMMY nominations for its albums Rise, Shine, #Woke, and The Love, but there is something unique about their latest album, The Movement. This time around, Kali de Jesus, Maya Fleming, and Tommy Shepherd III who have been with the Rockers since they were small children, are now teenagers, and they actively participated in writing the content of the album. The resulting collection of songs speaks to a reimagined world of belonging and justice.

For the 2022 Children’s Music Round Up I created a category called “The Children Are Our Future.” It featured The Movement as well as Multiply from The Wise Channel. I chose this heading because as Whitney Houston once sang, “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.” With The Movement, that’s what Kali, Maya, and Tommy are doing – leading the way. The only time I’ve seen Alphabet Rockers perform live was at a pre-GRAMMYs showcase in 2018 (please excuse the blurry photo taken with an old phone). One of the things that stood out was that the adults in the group proudly shone the spotlight upon the young children in the collective – including Maya, Kali, and Tommy III – giving them the microphone to rap in their still high pitched voices and the space to dance with boundless energy and joy. Those kids who were only nine or ten at the time, have grown into amazing 14 and 15 year olds with voices that need to be heard. 

Rather than Kaitlin and Tommy being part of the interview for this post, they instead worked with Kids Rhythm and Rock to get feedback from, as Kaitlin calls them, “the kids.”

How old were you when you started performing with Alphabet Rockers?

(Kali) I was around 6 when I started performing with the group
(Maya)  8 or 9
(Tommy III) 4 or 5

You were an active part of the creation of the content for The Movement. What was your favorite part of that process? 

(Kali) My favorite part of the process in creating The Movement was getting together with everyone in the group, whether it be for a music video or in the studio. It’s always great to get together, brainstorm, and formulate our songs.

(Maya) That’s a good question. I think My favorite part was probably the feeling of being in the studio during the pandemic; being able to come to the studio and even though we were masked up, still being able to be together and be in that creative flow with each other and create music and spread love even though we were going through a really hard time.

(Tommy III) Oh, I don’t know if this counts, but the “Slide” video, that was actually really fun. Everything is fun to do but that one was hecka fun and that’s why it’s one of my favorites,

Were there any challenges?

(Maya) There were challenges, but probably the biggest one was being able to, as we get older, find the [right] stuff for us, as you know our bodies change and our voices change. I think just also being able to have a balance of things where we have things that we actually like and have things that, you know, we use for the album or music videos where we’re able to add our ideas while still meeting your vision (Kaitlin and Tommy). Like how we were able to do music videos and add our friends and add our school, being able to do things like that. 

(Tommy III) The challenge was, to be honest, sometimes I didn’t feel like doing it, but we have to do it because it’s the work that has to be done. Just being so tired. Because of Covid it felt like we weren’t doing that much but it took a lot of emotional energy out of us and it drained us a lot so during that time, I didn’t feel like doing a lot of things, but we had to put in the work so we can push for freedom.

Photos by Nino Fernandez

What does this GRAMMY nomination mean to you?

(Kali) This GRAMMY nomination means a lot to me. I believe that it provides us with the opportunity to present our work more widespread and gives us a voice that speaks louder than before.

(Maya) This GRAMMY nomination means a lot. The work we put in, and the time, and energy, and like Tommy was saying, emotional commitment. Knowing the struggles and challenges that we all had to go through during the time we were making this album and seeing our growth and being able to make it to now our fourth GRAMMY nomination, 

(Tommy III) The GRAMMY nomination. I just really like it. To say that we have a GRAMMY nomination, that’s really dope. To say we have a GRAMMY nomination considering what type of music we’re making. The music that we make doesn’t always get GRAMMY nominations because it’s not mainstream. But, it’s like, the music we’re making is pushing for change, and the fact that music like that can be put onto a platform like that is good. 

Thank you very much to Kali, Maya, and Tommy III for sharing your thoughts with us! These kids, they are our future and with them taking the lead, I think we’re going to be alright.

In case you missed it, check out the spotlights for GRAMMY nominees Divinity Roxx and Wendy & DB.

2022 Children’s Music Round Up

Welcome to Kids Rhythm and Rock’s annual Children’s Music Round Up! For those of you new to the site, at the end of each year, rather than doing a “Top 10” or a “Best of” list, I compile a list of albums that have come to my attention during the last 12 months and separate them into fun categories. The total number of albums that are included varies from year-to-year. This year 45 albums make an appearance in the list below.

The richness and depth that is family music just keeps growing. 2022 saw the introduction of new artists, established acts returning after creative hiatuses, and veteran performers taking risks and trying something new. Let’s say hello to 2023 by taking a look back at the “year that was” in children’s music. All albums are available online. Don’t see your favorites? Please add them in the comments.

Be Mindful, Be Kind

Music to guide our everyday lives.

  • For Children of All Ages performed by You and Us
  • Happy Day performed by Jenn Cleary
  • Just a Minute performed by Jesse Jukebox
  • Mosaic performed by Jumpin’ Jamie
  • Nursery Rhymes for Kinder Times performed by Raffi and Lindsay Monroe
  • Your Voice is Magic performed by Again Again

Dynamic Duos

Sometimes it’s just more fun to sing with a friend.

  • Best Day Ever performed by Stacey & Athena
  • Dear Heart performed by Martin and Rose
  • The Greats performed by Louis & Dan and the Invisible Band
  • Smith & Yarn performed by Aaron Nigel Smith and Red Yarn

Festival de Música

Music in Spanish and English for the whole family to enjoy.

  • Los Fabulosos performed by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band
  • Mi Colores performed by Nathalia
  • Musiquita performed by Musiquita

Oh, to be Young

Perfect tunes for the preschool crowd

  • Let’s Move performed by Katie Dwyer
  • Echo Songs, Vol. 2 performed by Noodle Loaf
  • Forgot My Oars performed by Tim Seston
  • Rain Rain Go Away performed by Adam Steele
  • Wondering performed by Music with Gina

Our Friends to the South

2022 was the year when music from Australia and New Zealand arrived on the scene.


This was always my favorite category on Jeopardy! 

Rockin’ Rhythms

I’m a little bit rock ‘n’ roll!

Sweet Home, Chicago

All of these artists call Chicagoland home.

The Children Are Our Future

These groups put young people front and center in creating and performing music that educates, entertains, and uplifts all those who listen to it.

  • The Movement performed by Alphabet Rockers
  • Multiply performed by The Wise Channel

Unique Musical Stylings

There was nothing else quite like these albums this year.

  • Adults These Days performed by Greg Lato
  • Dark Side of the Banana performed by Go Banana Go!
  • Dinosaurs and Monsters performed by Howdytoons
  • Mammal Music performed by Marko Polo

Unstoppable Beats

Music to get you moving and grooving.

Best Children’s Album GRAMMY 2023 Nominees

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – the GRAMMY Award Nominations! The 65th annual GRAMMY award nominations were announced today. 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 October 1, 2021 and September 30, 2022. The depth and variety of children’s music this year was truly incredible. Congratulations to all of the nominees and to all the artists who created such amazing music this year. The GRAMMY Awards will be announced on Sunday, February 5.

Into the Little Blue House performed by Wendy & DB

Los Fabulosos performed by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

The Movement performed by Alphabet Rockers

Ready Set Go performed by Divinity Roxx

Space Cadet performed by Justin Roberts

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.

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.

Choose Kind

“I believe the children are our future/Teach them well and let them lead the way.” ~Whitney Houston, “Greatest Love of All”

“I believe the children are our future…”
These lyrics have been running through my head for several weeks now. It first started in late November when I attended a meeting at our local school district. Several of the attendees were wearing really eye-catching t-shirts that said “Choose Kind.” A quick inquiry and several emails later and the entire Youth Services department at my public library were wearing the same t-shirt. To us the message is a crucial reminder to the young people (and the adults too) that in even some of the most difficult circumstances, we should always try to choose kind.

“Teach them well and let them lead the way…”
In the middle of December, I was once again reminded of the lyrics from “Greatest Love of All” when Greta Thunberg was named one of Time magazine’s persons of the year. Thunberg is just the latest in a line of young people, like Malala Yousafzai and the students of Parkland, who are more courageous than most adults by standing up for what they believe in in incredibly public ways. These folks are thoughtful and eloquent and push the rest of us to step out from behind our devices and be brave in our beliefs.

“Show them all the beauty they possess inside…”
Finally, a couple of weeks ago I received the “Love to end the decade” enewsletter from Alphabet Rockers. In the email they highlighted the incredible story of 11-year-olds Lily and Kaia who led children from around the world in making 15,000 origami butterflies that were displayed at the United States Capitol on November 20 in support of migrant children. The story of this undertaking is told through the beautiful, stirring video {see below} for the Alphabet Rockers’s song, “Until You’re Free” (feat. SaulPaul and 123 Andrés). The Butterfly Project proved that when children get together, the strongest message can be conveyed in the most beautiful, unforgettable way.

My goal for 2020 is to be like the children. To be brave and stand up for what I believe in, to act when I see injustices, and above all, to Choose Kind. For the children really are our future and it’s up to us to support and guide them as they lead the way.

2019 Children’s Music Roundup

Welcome to the second annual Kids Rhythm and Rock Children’s Music Roundup! Oh what a year 2019 was for children’s music with a cornucopia of sounds, fantastic messages and moments of fun combining for a true wealth of musical riches, Whether you check the CDs out from the library or listen to them on your favorite streaming service, all of the albums below are definitely worth a listen (or two, or three…). 


Best Animal Album Covers
Come for the covers, stay for the amazing music!
Swamp Romp Performed by Johnette Downing with Scott Billington   
Winterland Performed by The Okee Dokee Brothers



Be Mindful, Be Kind     





The Love Performed by Alphabet Rockers
Kindred Performed by Renee & Friends
Under the Big Umbrella Performed by Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could
Ageless: Songs for the Child Archetype Performed by Jon Samson


Unique Musical Stylings





Finding Friends Far From Home: A Journey with Clara Net Performed by Oran Etkin
Shake It and Break It Performed by Randy Kaplan
Earworm Performed by Sean McCollough


Based on a Podcast


Backstroke Raptor Performed by The Story Pirates



 Regional Superstars You Should Know





Put Your Arms in the Air Performed by Cowboy Andy (based in Montana) 
Kith & Kin Performed by Duke Otherwise (based in Wisconsin)   


Bilingual/Spanish Albums





Canta las Letras Performed by 123 Andrés
Love is Te Quiero Performed by Alina Celeste
Buenos Diaz Performed by The Lucky Band
En la Radio Performed by Nathalia


We Only Have One Earth
These albums each contain several songs that celebrate the flora and fauna on this rock we call home. 





Can You Feel It? Performed by Jessa Campbell & the Saplings
It Takes a Village Performed by Ginalina
Positronic Performed by Marsha and the Positrons


Rock ‘n’ Roll Dads





Which One Am I? Performed by Howie D
Growing Up Performed by Josh Lovelace


The Long and the Short of It





All I Do is Hop Performed by Grin Brigade (29 tracks)
The Robot Performed by Ants Ants Ants (4 tracks)


Thank You, and Goodnight!

Album cover for Now That We're Home


Now That We’re Home: Lullabies & Love Songs Performed by KB Whirly

2020 Best Children’s Album GRAMMY Nominees

The 62nd annual GRAMMY nominees were announced yesterday. To be eligible for the 2020 awards, an album had to be released between October 1, 2018 and August 31, 2019. This year’s selection of nominees for best children’s album includes a few familiar faces as well as the introduction of some newbies to the GRAMMY competition. (Special shout out to Kaitlin McGaw for being the only female lead performer in this year’s crop of nominees!) The GRAMMY awards will be announced on Sunday, January 26.

Ageless Songs for the Child Archetype performed by Jon Samson

Flying High! Performed by Caspar Babypants

I Love Rainy Days performed by Daniel Tashian

The Love Performed by Alphabet Rockers

Winterland Performed by The Okee Dokee Brothers

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