It’s that wonderous time of year when children celebrate the end of school and public libraries launch their summer reading programs. Many libraries create their own themes, while others either use the iREAD theme, which this year is “Read Beyond the Beaten Path,” or the CSLP theme, “Oceans of Possibilities.” Both of these themes are fantastic and encourage young readers to explore worlds beyond their everyday experiences, but the one we’re going to focus on today is “Oceans of Possibilities.”
New Zealand-based Claudia Robin Gunn had no idea when she was planning the launch of her latest album, Sing for the Sea – Little Wild Ocean Friends, that it would perfectly coincide with American summer reading programs, but lucky for us, it does. Gunn’s newest collection of kindie folk is a double album packed with 24 original songs, all written and performed by Gunn. Featuring vocals that elevate her modern take on folk music, Gunn’s voice is at times almost ethereal, making it the perfect companion to lyrics that tell the tale of creatures found deep in the ocean. Each track has its own story to tell and is strengthened by the intentional way that each song focuses on only one creature or aspect of the watery environs. Animals spotlighted on the album include whales, squid, octopus, and jelly fish while rock pools, seaweed, and coral reefs are also shown special treatment. Although each song is packed with scientific facts, they are consistently entertaining and never feel didactic. All encourage listeners to use their imaginations and several like “Pirate Princess,” “Mermaid Parade,” and “Sandcastle Competition” promote the importance of play.
Along with Sing for the Sea – Little Wild Ocean Friends, Claudia worked with her sister Dr. Melissa R. Gunn and award-winning watercolor artist Elise De Silva to create a companion songbook that includes science notes and activity ideas for each song. Originally due out in July, when Claudia heard about the “Ocean’s of Possibilities” theme, she decided to give American audiences a chance to gain early access. The digital songbook and album are available now on Bandcamp (see https://www.claudiagunn.com/sfts for details and to hear a sample). Sing for the Sea – Little Wild Ocean Friends will be available via all the regular streaming services beginning July 8.
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!
As I mentioned in my last post, October is one of the favorite times of the year at my house. One of the reasons for that is that our wedding anniversary is on October 31. We chose that date specifically because it was Halloween (and it was a Saturday). Guests wore costumes, there was a jack o’ lantern on the top of the cake and the reception was decorated with giant tombstones. While the wedding and reception celebrated a more modern version of Halloween, the invitations and the rest of the graphics all featured classic Halloween images like the one to the left. As soon as I started watching the video below, it immediately reminded me of those images and transported me to a different time.
EVT Kids is making a name for themselves on the children’s music scene. Yvette and Tom lead this bilingual family band with their two daughters joining in the fun. The video for their latest song, “Spooky Halloween Night,” features gray and black illustrations reminiscent of Halloween artwork from several different time periods. The vocals harken back to a bygone era that brings eerie jazz elements to the song making the tone just spooky enough to enjoy but not too scary to listen to. Make sure to watch all the way to the end so that you don’t miss a surprise rap that somehow fits right in. The melody to “Spooky Halloween Night” will haunt you (in a good way!) for days to come.
Before you celebrate your own spooky Halloween night, make sure to take a listen to the new Halloween EP Little, Wild and Spooky! from New Zealand children’s artist Claudia Robin Gunn. This three song collection includes “Spooktacular!” a clever counting song that includes suggestions for different types of vegetables that you can carve, “Leaf Skeletons” that imagines what would happen if the skeleton leaves at the bottom of the pile started dancing, and “Friendly Monsters” that celebrates dressing up, costume parties, and imaginary friends.
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 Year – A 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 Silvaprovides 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.