Sing for the Sea – Little Wild Ocean Friends performed by Claudia Robin Gunn

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.

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

Is it Halloween yet?

 

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.

Little, Wild and Spooky! is available on most streaming services and can be previewed on Claudia’s Bandcamp page.

That’s it for the Halloween editions of Kids Rhythm and Rock! I hope you have a thrilling All Hallows’ Eve filled with all the tricks and treats you dream of!

Sing Through the Year performed by Claudia Robin Gunn

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 YearA 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 Silva provides 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.

Claudia, along with many other children’s musicians, will be performing on Saturday, June 5 as part of the SwitchOn Global Telethon to benefit endangered species around the world as part of World Environment Day 2021.