2020 Children’s Music Roundup

Welcome to Kids Rhythm and Rock’s third annual Children’s Music Roundup! For those of you new to the blog, each year I compile a list of my favorite albums, then organize them by categories that change from year-to-year. Normally I would have had this list up by the middle of December, but 2020 being 2020, it threw a last minute curveball that delayed things a bit.

The past year was a time filled with incredible challenges for children’s music. The pandemic found performers having to completely redefine how they brought their music to the masses, racial and social justice came to the forefront, and the GRAMMY controversy spurred the children’s community to action. Through it all though, one constant remained – children’s music continued to grow in ways that left listeners enthralled, enriched, and entertained. So let’s say hello to 2021 by taking a look back at the year that was in Children’s music. Don’t see your favorites in the list below? Add them in the comments!

Note: There has been a lot of discussion in the past few weeks regarding albums by BIPOC performers. I have denoted those albums with an (**). 

Wide World of Music

Fiesta Global performed by Flor Bromley**

Live in LA performed by Aaron Nigel Smith & 1 World Chorus**

Songs Across the Pond performed by David Gibb and Brady Rymer

Unhurried Journey performed by Elena Moon Park**

¡Muévete! performed by José-Luis Orozco**

Let the Good Times Roll

Giggle and Burp Ballet performed by Randy & Dave

Kokowanda Bay performed by Ruth and Emilia

Cats Sit on You performed by The Story Pirates

Camping with Dads performed by Peter Alsop

For the Love of Dads

D.a.d performed by Pierce Freelon**

Wild Life performed by Wild Life

Songs with My Daughters performed by Elliott Park

With a Little Help from My Friends

Imagine That! The Sesame Street Music of Joe Raposo & Jeff Moss performed by Rena Strober and Friends

All The Ladies performed by Joanie Leeds (and friends)

Beautiful Beats

Hey Big World performed by Wendy & DB**

Night Life performed by Sara Lovell

It’s Never Too Early

Be the Change performed by SaulPaul**

Backyard Bop performed by Red Yarn

Be a Pain: An Album for Young (and Old) Leaders performed by Alastair Moock & Friends

Double Duty – Artists who were also authors in 2020

Una Idea Tengo Yo performed by 123 Andrés /Hello Friend, Hola Amigo by 123 Andrés**

Small But Mighty performed by Ginalina/The Mighty River by Ginalina**

Good Foot performed by Jazzy Ash/Viva Durant and the Secret of the Silver Buttons by Ashli St. Amant (Jazzy Ash)**

Rockin’ Rhythms

Hi-Ya! performed by Go Banana Go!

Avocado performed by Rolie Polie Guacamole

Never Mind the Blocks, Here’s Jumpin’ Jamie performed by Jumpin’ Jamie

I’m an Optimist performed by Dog on Fleas

The Short and the Long of It

Honey performed by Frances England (6 songs, 15 minutes)

Awesome! performed by Jesse Jukebox (6 songs, 16 minutes)

Songs for Singin’ performed by The Okee Dokee Brothers (27 songs, 70 minutes)

Kokowanda Bay Performed by Ruth and Emilia

On their last album, The Spaceship That Fell in My Backyard, mother-daughter duo Ruth Weber and Emilia Lopez-Yañez took listeners on an adventure with Emilia and her new alien friend, URR. URR returns on this new album to help Emilia and her friends save the beautiful Kokowanda Bay. The theme of working together to make the world a better place that started in Backyard, continues in Kokowanda Bay as Emilia and URR work to teach listeners about the wonders of nature and all the ways that we can work to preserve it.

Kokowanda Bay kicks off with the groovy “Get On Up!” before introducing us to the title track’s island sounds featuring a hook that will have you singing the chorus all day long. We learn how to reuse and recycle in songs like “We’re Goin’ Green” and “Turn It Into Something New” and get information about “The Food Chain” with the help of an old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll jam. Emilia’s voice gets a chance to shine with her solo performance on the gorgeous “Like Magic” that describes the magical way a seed grows and a caterpillar turns into a butterfly.

This album truly is a family affair. Ruth’s son Enrico Lopez-Yañez, the Principal Pops Conductor of the Nashville Symphony, helped to co-write and produce the album. His engaging arrangements call to mind the kind of listening experience you get when attending a musical theater production – each song draws you into the story, tugs at your heart, and leaves you wanting more.

Listen to Kokowanda Bay for the messages about friendship and the environment but stay for the fun. Kokwanda Bay is a true ray of sunshine on a cloudy day! Meet Emilia and her alien friend URR in the video for “Who Would Believe It’s True” below.