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.

School Library Journal’s Top 10 Music of 2018

School Library Journal’s (SLJ) Top 10 Music of 2018” list is out. This year, items that qualified for the list followed the same release date timeline as those for GRAMMY and Fids and Kamily consideration – they had to be released between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018.

The criteria used to compile this list is slightly different as well. Along with the best overall quality, musicality and kid/family appeal of an album, the SLJ reviewers also look at selections from the point of view of librarians and teachers and recommend the best albums of the year to use in programs or the classroom.

This year’s Top 10 is varied enough to have a little something for everyone. Each album pictured below deserves a space in every library collection. Click here for to visit SLJ for brief descriptions of each album. Did your favorites make the list?

2018 Children’s Music Roundup

Welcome to Kids Rhythm and Rock’s first ever Children’s Music Roundup!! Throughout the past year I thought a lot about doing a “10 Best” list, but the music for children this year was so diverse and so dynamic, there was no way I could limit my choices. What I decided to do instead was to make a list of my favorite albums of the year, then break the list up by categories. (If I reviewed an album here, I’ve included the link.) So, without further ado, here is the 2018 Children’s Music Roundup!

Most Amazing Album Covers:
Come for the covers, stay for the fantastic music!

Blue Skies and Sunny Days performed by Frances England
Wake Up the Dream performed by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo

 

Be Mindful, Be Kind:
Music to guide our everyday lives.

Every Voice performed by Kira Willey
Dog on the Floor performed by Raffi

 

Oh, to be Little:
Perfect tunes for the preschool crowd.

Come Together performed by Jeanie B!
High Five! performed by Laura Doherty

 

Sounds of Summer:
Winter may soon be upon many of us, but these albums are good anytime of the year. 

Camp Andyland performed by Andy Z
Fireflies performed by Mister G

 

It’s Science!:
Who knew science could be so fun?

Giants of Science performed by The Pop Ups
Kidz STEM Songs performed by Dan Crow and Friends
Zoom a Little Zoom: A Ride Through Science performed by Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer

 

Life Through a Special Set of Eyes:
Meet Jamey, his cat and his new puppy as they partake in the joys of summer. 

Kitty Cat Under My Wheelchair performed by Steve Pullara and His Cool Beans Band

 

 

For Fans of the “Who Was/ Who Is” Series:
What better group of people to learn about than Nobel Laureates? 

Legion of Peace performed by Lori Henriques Quintet featuring Joey Alexander

 

 

Where in the World…:
Music inspired by cultures from around the world.

Falu’s Bazaar performed by Falu (India)
La Luna performed by 123 Andrés (Central and South America)

 

Jazziest Jams:
Everything’s groovy in this collection.

All the Sounds performed by Lucy Kalantari and the Jazz Cats

 

We Only Have One Earth:
Celebrate all the creatures, great and small, on this planet we call home. 

Back to the Land performed by Hot Peas ‘N Butter
Why Why Why? performed by Ants Ants Ants

 

 

 

Introducing:
Who can resist a bilingual playground? 

Happy Land is Tierra Feliz performed by Mi Amigo Hamlet

 

 

Musical Moms:
There are many moms on this list, but the moms below can’t be categorized!

Songs for Sisters and Brothers performed by Vered
Strawberry Wind performed by Jessie Baylin
Tour Guide performed by Cheri Magill
Wild is Everywhere performed by Sara Lovell

 

Music for a Cause:
Hold Tight, Shine Bright performed by 25+ children’s artists 
This album was created to help keep families together. All proceeds go to RAICES Texas.

 

And finally –

Just Because They’re Awesome:
Building Blocks performed by Tim Kubart 
Family Photo Album performed by Recess Monkey
Hand in Hand performed by Suzi Shelton

 

 

 

Did your favorites make the list?? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

High Five! Performed by Laura Doherty

I have been a fan of Laura Doherty since I first heard her charming album Shining Like a Star (2011). From the very beginning, her ability to craft relatable lyrics set to developmentally appropriate tempos spoke to her experience as an early childhood educator, starting with her time as the director of Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music’s Wiggleworms program. With each album Doherty has honed her craft as a songwriter and performer resulting in High Five!, her best album to date.

Coming in at a brief 27 minutes, Doherty packs a lot of fun and musical talent into the 10 songs in this collection. Her signature folk-pop style shines along with the light, airy melodies and catchy lyrics of songs that cover a wide variety of topics including – the first day of school, making friends, lucky charms, different types of pasta and Paulette the Purple Dragonette. Wonderful, complex instrumentations support but never overwhelm Doherty’s lovely soprano. A perfect example being the title song, “High Five.” Featuring a really funky groove, this tune lets the brass section shine while Doherty encourages listeners to get up and move while trying out dances like the Locomotion and The Twist.

Other highlights include the earworm song of the record, “Muddy Puddles” (I’m pretty sure I’ll be singing that chorus in my sleep), Doherty’s duet with mutli-GRAMMY nominee Justin Roberts on “Can’t Wait to Turn 8” and the really touching final track, “Wonderful 1.”

Laura Doherty’s albums are the best kind of children’s music – lyrics are sung from the point of view of a child, songs are short enough to use in programs and storytimes, and the tunes are so catchy and well-produced that parents won’t go crazy listening to them again and again. High Five! is a must-have for libraries and family listening!