Song Spotlight – “Thank You Teacher” performed by Again Again feat. Mista Cookie Jar

It’s that time of year again. The countdown to the last day of school is on – for the students and the teachers. Parents are looking for goodbye gifts for their children to give to their favorite teachers (everyone needs another mug, right?) and kids are making special cards filled with precious sentiments. To celebrate the gift that is teachers, consider sharing this wonderful new song of gratitude from the dynamic duo Again Again featuring the hip hop stylings of Mista Cookie Jar. Take a listen here.

Song Spotlight: “So Glad You’re My Friend”

Released on World Mental Health Day, “So Glad You’re My Friend,” written and performed by Laura Doherty and Reggio “The Hoofer,” is an important song any day of the year. The lyrics call out a whole list of things that you can do when you’re feeling down including – think of a happy place, put on a favorite song and sing along, and make a friend and walk together and talk together. Friends since their earlier days as teaching artists at Chicago’s famed Old Town School of Folk Music (Laura teaching music classes, Reggio sharing his talent as a master tap dancer), this is the duo’s second collaboration. Featuring Laura’s signature folk-pop sound, “So Glad You’re My Friend” combines Laura’s soft, crystal clear voice with Reggio’s slightly gruffer tone to create a soothing song that leaves the listener feeling cared for and loved. While the message of the single is mainly directed at the person feeling low, it’s also the perfect reminder that you never know what someone else is going through, so never be afraid to reach out and say, “So Glad You’re My Friend.” Take a listen.

Song Spotlight – “7 Days of Fun” performed by Charlie Faye & The Fanimals

Photo by Eryn Brooke

Austin-based Charlie Faye began her musical journey singing and playing guitar and mandolin in Dan Zane & Friends. Since those early beginnings, she has branched out and toured as a solo artist as well as creating unique collaborations like Charlie Faye and the Fayettes. Following the birth of her daughter and the end of the pandemic, Charlie launched Charlie Faye & The Fanimals, a collaborative group of musical powerhouses who have joined Charlie in creating music for kids that has as Motown sound and the heart and soul of the music of the 1960s.

Charlie Faye & The Fanimals’ self-titled album won’t be released until July 21, but today, I’m excited to help debut the first single from the album, “7 Days of Fun.” From the first downbeat of the drums, listeners will want to move and grove to this tune, a fantastic retro romp that breathes joy and excitement into every day of the week. Take a listen below. 

 

Song Spotlight – “Happy Feet”

Released on February 5, “Happy Feet” is a wonderful take on the “freeze dance” that will get listeners tiptoeing, jumping, and doing the dance and jive around the room. Continuing the theme from the last post about artists creating cross-continent collaborations, after writing “Happy Feet,” Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Ashley Mills Monaghan started brainstorming potential duet partners and immediately thought of New Zealand-based award-winning children’s performer Music with Michal ,and soon a wonderful new partnership was born. Listening to the seamless way that Ashley and Michal’s voices combine, it’s hard to imagine that the entire song was created by simply sending wav files back and forth through email. Ashley and Michal adeptly meet each other note for note, mirroring each other’s energy and joy. The result is an engaging, earworm of a song that is perfect to use during storytime, in preschool classes to burn off a little energy, or at home. Everyone’s feet will be happy after dancing to this tune!

Song Spotlight – “Thank You Science”

Happy International Women and Girls in Science Day!! As a child, I loved science – especially the wonders of things that couldn’t be seen with the naked eye. My parents were very supportive of my interests and bought me a beginner’s microscope one year for Christmas and a telescope the next. While my drive to officially study science waned, my interest never did. In college (as a French and International Relations major), when forced with taking a science course with a lab, I chose astronomy. I loved those chilly fall nights up on the hill gazing out into the galaxy and to this day, I still own that child’s telescope, carefully packed in its original box from JCPenney’s. These memories from my younger years are just a few of the reasons why I love the new single “Thank You Science.”

Born of the creative minds of Marsha Goodman-Wood of Marsha and the Positrons and Claudia Robin Gunn, “Thank You Science” is a beautiful song full of gratitude and celebration. Chock-full of information, in the span of a few short minutes, Marsha and Claudia manage to include basic facts like the Earth is round, call out things such as the Scientific Method, and shout out to a whole host of famous female scientists. Even though the subject matter of “Thank You Science” has an educational element to it, the poppy melody is uplifting and fun. Marsha and Claudia are joined on vocals by Positron member Ayanna Gallant and when the three voices join together in harmony, the effect is a real delight.

In December of 2021 School Library Journal published a piece I had written about the evolution of children’s music as a result of the pandemic. In that article Claudia spoke about how the virtual realm of the pandemic had expanded the world for children’s musicians and was leading to collaborations with artists they may never have connected with otherwise. “Thank You Science” is an example of one of those collaborations. Marsha is based in the Washington, D.C. area while Claudia lives a bit of a ways away in New Zealand. Through the wonders of Zoom, they were able to combine their interests in the scientific world and love of music to work together and write “Thank You Science.”

“Thank You Science” is available today on your favorite streaming services.

Song Spotlight – “New Leaf”

I first heard “New Leaf,” the latest single from Marsha and the Positrons at the beginning of December. Right away I knew I wanted to save it for the week between Christmas and the New Year because 1) I didn’t want it to get lost in the riches of the holiday music shuffle and 2) it really spoke to me about looking ahead to 2023. For the last two years at the end of December I’ve said, “next year has to be better,” and both years had an unexpected amount of challenges. By the end of November I declared that this time I wasn’t going to say, “next year has to be better.” In fact I wasn’t going to really acknowledge that a new year was starting at all. And then I listened to “New Leaf.”

In less than two minutes, Marsha and the Positrons filled my heart with such light and hopefulness that I started to cry. Normally I’m not that weepy, but after a tiring, trying year, hearing the words, “I’m turning over a new leaf…I’m starting fresh, it’s going to be fine,” just touched something deep within me. In “New Leaf,” Marsha Goodman-Wood’s gorgeous, rich vocals lead the listener’s gaze to the future while beautiful harmonies and simple instrumentation enhance the truly lovely lyrics. Never melancholy, “New Leaf” uplifts the listener leaving them feeling loved.

As a side note, while the phrase “turning over a new leaf” nowadays has more of a tree-related connotation, when it was first used back in the 1500s, it referred to turning the page (back then known as a leaf) in a book to a blank leaf so that you could start anew. As a book lover, the origin of the phrase really appeals to me, but as a nature lover I also enjoy thinking of a tree full of leaves. If the first one doesn’t have exactly what you’re looking for, try a new leaf, “it’s going to be fine.”

Please take a few moments and enjoy “New Leaf” by Marsha and the Positrons.

Song Spotlight – “Stuff!” Performed by Esther Crow

It’s Earth Day! Celebrate this rock we call home with a new, high-octane tune from Esther Crow. Disheartened by ever-growing landfills that contribute to the climate crisis and inspired by purging some of her own “stuff,” Esther wrote this song to encourage families to be greener and consider donating items they no longer want rather than tossing them in the trash. Produced by Dean Jones, this call-and-response rock song which features Esther’s eight-year-old son on mandolin and violin, gets the message across in a gloriously frenetic way. After jamming along, listeners will surely be left with the desire to take a good hard look at all their “stuff.” 

 

“Stuff!” performed by Esther Crow is available on all streaming platforms.

Song Spotlight – “Joy, Spice, Soul”

In children’s music, something incredible happened as a direct result of the pandemic – collaboration. Sure, artists worked together on occasion before, but never like they do today. “Joy, Spice, Soul” is a perfect example of just one of the amazing collaborations happening right now. On this uplifting track, two-time GRAMMY winner Lucy Kalantari is joined by brand new GRAMMY winner Falu and GRAMMY nominee Fyütch in creating a slice of happiness. In this jazzy, upbeat tune, the basic melody remains constant as each of the performers brings their own style of music (jazz, soul, classical Indian) to the lyrics. When their voices join together, it’s pure magic. As they aptly declare, “We bring different flavors but sing the same song/Brothers and sisters let’s all sing along.” Take a listen below while you dance around the room celebrating the “Joy, Spice, Soul” in life!

Song Spotlight – “¡Fiesta, Fiesta!” performed by Sonia De Los Santos

What better way to close out this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month than with a new release from Sonia De Los Santos? Originally written for Sonia’s live show Fiesta con Sonia De Los Santos, which was commissioned by the New Victory Theater in New York City, today Sonia is sharing “¡Fiesta, Fiesta!” with the world. This gorgeous Spanish-language song tells Sonia’s own story of being an immigrant from Monterrey, Mexico who came to New York City, joined a community of talented artists, and now travels the world gathering inspiration and entertaining folks of all ages.  As always, Sonia’s lovely voice shines on this Cumbia and an extra bit of joy is added with the backing vocals of a children’s chorus. The upbeat melody makes it impossible for listeners to resist the call of the music. “¡Fiesta, Fiesta!” is a true delight!! Listen to “¡Fiesta, Fiesta!” below.

Song Spotlight – “Hanukkah on Andromeda” Performed by Lard Dog & The Band of Shy

What do Hanukkah and Andromeda have in common? After listening to the new song from Lard Dog & The Band of Shy several times, I’m still not quite sure, but I am here for it. Just in time for the start of Hanukkah, this little ditty takes the joy of the holiday and turns it up to eleven. Filled with silly, yet informative, lyrics (where else will you hear the words menorah, dreidel, and Spock all in the same sentence) “Hanukkah on Andromeda” tells listeners of the eight days and nights that are the Festival of Lights during this humanoid holiday. Performed with quirky abandon by lead dog Steve Erdman and featuring a klezmer-esque guitar break, this song is a sure fire way to get kids on their feet and dancing. Whether you take a close listen to the tune to learn a thing of two about Hanukkah, or just enjoy the frenetic, fun beat, “Hanukkah on Andomeda” is definitely a song to give a whirl this holiday season.