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.
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
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
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)
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
Oh, it’s so good to be back! After an unexpected hiatus, it feels great to once again be surrounded by the talent, generosity, and kindness of the children’s music world. And what better time of the year to return than during the magical, mystical, pumpkin-spiced delight that is October. So much incredible children’s music debuted while I was gone, and we’ll get to that in the coming weeks, but for today, I want to celebrate the season that in my house is “the most wonderful time of the year” by featuring new videos that shine a spotlight on two upcoming holidays.
The first video is “Halloween Crew” from Little Miss Ann. The muted, almost sepia tones, of the animation perfectly match the slightly spooky lyrics which appear on the screen. Children will love singing along while pretending to be different members of the Halloween Crew.
The second video is for a Spanish language song from Colombian-born, Los Angeles-based Nathalia, that celebrates Día de los Muertos. Beautiful, brightly colored animation highlights all of the elements that go into honoring the lives of loved ones who have come and gone. Lyrics are available in both Spanish and English on Nathalia’s website.
I’m so excited to announce that Little Miss Ann’s sixth album of original songs for families is being released on May 7 (check out that fantastic album cover art at left from Pirata y Luna Estudio Creativo!). Available for pre-order beginning on April 23, this latest album promises a new and exciting sound. Based on what I’ve heard from the first single, that promise is being kept! Produced by Dean Jones and written and performed by Little Miss Ann, with an assist from Suzi Shelton, “Marshmallow Man” is powered by electric guitars and filled with groovy fun. Listeners will be entertained with the single all on its own (https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/littlemissann/marshmallow-man-feat-suzi-shelton), but it’s the stop-motion video created by Little Miss Ann during quarantine that really takes “Marshmallow Man” to another level. Enjoy!! P.S. Join Little Miss Ann at 4:00 p.m. CST TODAY for a Facebook Live “Marshmallow Man” Viewing Party. I hope to “see” you there!
This list of fantastic songs! Are you looking for just the right music to listen to during a summer family road trip? From today through Sunday, June 11 the wonderful variety of songs listed below are available as free downloads. There’s a little something for everyone. Pass it on!
“Transportation” – Danny Weinkauf – Red Pants Band
“Moon Star Pie (It’s Gonna Be Alright)” – Lisa Loeb
“Superhero 2017 REMIX (feat. Carly Ciarrocchi)” – Tim Kubart
“Rolling Down the Hill” – Justin Roberts
“Paletero Man” – Lucky Diaz
“She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” – Jazzy Ash
“Five Green and Speckled Frogs” – Dana
“Mockingbird” – Red Yarn
“The Senses Song” – Little Miss Ann
Chicago-based Little Miss Ann and Amy D (or Ann Torralba and Amyliza de Jesus as they are known in their daily lives) have teamed up on their first album together and I, for one, certainly hope that it isn’t their last. Keep On is a great combination of new songs and old, many of which are perfect for storytime. Songs such as “Ube” about a purple yam and “L.O.V.E.” will get little ones singing and dancing the wiggles out while “Shake and Sing” would work as an energetic clapping/shaker song and “Hill and Gully Rider,” which features 123 Andres on clarinet, is a really fun tune to get storytime participants moving and interacting with one another. In addition, the delightful “The Senses Song” assigns a letter to each sense along with things that start with that letter. Hear is the letter “M” and some of the things listed that may be heard are music and mama’s voice. Taste is the letter “H” which includes hot chocolate and horchata, See the letter “B” for butterflies and bumblebees, Smell is the letter “L” for lemons and lychee, and Touch and Feel the letter “G” for green grass. This song could easily be used with the flannel board where each item is added to the board as it is mentioned in the song.
Other songs included on this album are a cover of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” a pretty straight forward version of “Where is Thumbkin?” and the original tune, “The 606” which Chicagoans will recognize as an ode to an innovative area in Chicago which connects four neighborhoods and incorporates the arts, bike and trail paths, and event spaces.
Little Miss Ann and Amy D have a wonderful sound with voices that blend beautifully and much of the instrumentation is provided by power producer Dean Jones. Each song stands on its own and with so many that would work for storytime, this is a must have for anyone who presents programs for little ones, or just spends a lot of time with them.
Are you looking for just the right songs to share in your classroom, during storytime or as a family on Valentine’s Day? From today through Tuesday, February 14 the wonderful variety of songs listed below are available as free downloads. There’s a little something for everyone. Pass along the love and kindness!
“Valentine (I Don’t Want to Be Yours)” – Justin Roberts
“Lovestruck Unicorn” – Recess Monkey (2017 GRAMMY nominee)
“L.O.V.E.” – Little Miss Ann
“Love Bug” – Raffi
“Closer to You” – Frances England (2017 GRAMMY nominee)
“You Can Count on Me” – Lisa Loeb
“Your Love Turns the World Around” – Brady Rymer (2017 GRAMMY nominee)
“Loving and Kind” – Aaron Nigel Smith
“Til There Was You” – Lucky Diaz
“Cancion de Amor” – 123 Andrs