Esther Crow made her entrée into children’s music with her band Thunder & Sunshine’s 2017 album, This is Thunder & Sunshine. Just a handful of years later, Esther returns with All Together Now, her first solo album for families which is set to be released on June 25. The first video from the album, “It’s so Easy Being Green” debuted on May 21 and detailed simple ways we can help the planet by changing our daily habits. Today, I am pleased to premiere “Hard to be Happy,” the second video from All Together Now.
Written in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, Esther says of “Hard to be Happy,” “I was hoping to find a way to reach the very young, and to highlight the importance of empathy for others and acceptance of ourselves. I continue to struggle with the fact that people are persecuted for the color of their skin, or for whom they love.” To that end, the video features a conversation and duet between Bernie the Bee and Moonice the Cow, two of Esther’s signature paperbag-style felt puppets. In “Hard to be Happy” Moonice is struggling with the fact that instead of being black and white, Moonice is red and purple, while Bernie is coming to terms with being a bee who loves anchovies instead of flowers. While each character is facing challenges and things that make them sad, they know that they will be ok because they have each other.
Created by Jeff Lewonczyk, the simple nature of the puppets makes the theme of being yourself in order to be happy even more accessible to young listeners. The static background, puppetry, and music with a message gives “Hard to be Happy” a retro vibe, calling to mind children’s programs of the 70s and 80s. Bernie and Moonice (and Esther too) give listeners much to think about. “Hard to be Happy” ends with a courage-filled pledge that we should all adopt, “We’ll live our lives unafraid. We’ll be brave.”
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 TODAYfor a Facebook Live “Marshmallow Man” Viewing Party. I hope to “see” you there!
In November Brady Rymer released the four track EP, Angels in the Snow, a mini-collection of original holiday songs. Today it’s my pleasure to help premiere the video for the EP’s second track, “Why, Daddy, Why?” In this tune, Rymer and the Little Band That Could cleverly give voice to the confusion that a group of impatient siblings feels while they’re waiting at the top of the stairs for mom and dad to call them down to see all that Santa has delivered. The inquisitive refrain of “Why, Daddy, Why?” is performed to a rocking, horn-filled beat that is perfectly paired with retro-infused graphics that recall Christmases long ago. Parents will enjoy the nod to all that mommy and daddy do to put the finishing touches on “Santa’s work” while children will relate to the difficulty that comes with having to wait to see what Santa brought. Enjoy the video for “Why, Daddy, Why?” (along with Rymer’s incredible red, sequined jacket) below and make sure to check out the full EP on your favorite streaming service.
On Friday, November 6, Frances Englandwill debut her EP, Honey, a new collection of songs that includes four reimagined tunes and two new ones. Today, I am happy to share the premiere of “Glue,” the first single off this new album. Featuring real footage of a wide range of configurations of families and friends (of the two and four-legged variety), this is a beautiful tribute to the love, and happiness we find when spending time with one another. The images in the video for “Glue” perfectly pair with England’s soothing voice and gentle lyrics. “Glue” will make listeners smile, laugh, and maybe even shed a tear or two, but ultimately come away feeling uplifted and a joyful.
My husband and I spent most of this weekend working on rebuilding our deck. Our backyard is ringed by old oak trees and marshland and while we were outside we kept hearing these high pitched long screeches coming from the branches above us. For the first couple of hours we couldn’t figure out what creature could possibly be responsible for such a sound. Then, in the early afternoon we finally caught a glimpse of two young hawks practicing their flying techniques. Were they the source of that unusual bird call? Last night we spent some time online searching out examples of what young hawks sound like, and just like that, the puzzle was solved. Our hawk friends were back again this morning, but now that we knew whose bird call was echoing through the air, it was easier to follow the sound and see the glorious youngsters high in the trees.
This experience very much reminds me of “Sae Taryeong,” one of the tracks from Elena Moon Park‘s most recent album, Unhurried Journey. “Sae Taryeong” is a well known folk song from the southwestern region of Korea that tells the story of birds on a hillside in the spring who are calling to one another. The song’s lyrics are a lovely blend of Korean and English that engage listeners and will have them calling “sook-sook, sook-sook,” back to the sparrows, bluebirds, and robins.
The video for “Sae Taryeong” is a whimsical blend of colors, collage, and video that perfectly captures the song’s celebration of nature in springtime. Created by composer and musician, Natacha Diels, “Sae Taryeong” presents unique imagery not often found in music videos for children. For more information about the song including lyrics and how to listen to bird calls, visit the “Sae Taryeong” page on the Unhurried Journey album website. Enjoy the video for “Sae Taryeong” below and next time you’re outside, take a minute to stop and say “sook-sook” to the birds above.
If you’re not familiar with the gold sneakers wearing best friends Bryan and Neil, the dynamic duo behind Koo Koo Kanga Roo, then you’ve been missing out. I was first introduced to them a little over three years ago. My first thought was, “These guys are children’s performers?” Quickly followed by, “These guys are children’s performers!” Having traveled the country with everything from Yo Gabba Gabba Live to the Vans Warped Tour, Koo Koo Kanga Roo employs pumping dance beats and crazy, goofy, always entertaining lyrics that will appeal to children of all ages. Whether they are singing about glitter, the turkey wobble, or bubble wrap, the duo’s listeners can always be sure that they are in for a good time. The fun doesn’t end with the music though. Koo Koo Kanga Roo takes their songs to new levels with innovative videos that bring the lyrics to life.
In this regard, the video for Koo Koo Kanga Roo’s newest song does not disappoint. Hot sauce is something that most people either love or hate. This video however, with sizzling visuals and a thumping hook, manages to bridge that divide and make it a condiment everyone can enjoy. So tie on your sneakers, clear the dance floor and get ready to drink in some hot sauce!
In the follow-up to Legion of Peace, a beautiful album dedicated to an amazing array of Nobel Peace Prize winners, Lori Henriques returns to her light-hearted yet earnest style with her new album What Do You Wish. Originally released as a solo-voice and piano, cabaret style song on Lori’s 2013 album The World is a Curious Place to Live, “Everlovin Water” has been reimagined for 2019 with an arrangement that features a full funk band. With Schoolhouse Rock as inspiration, Henriques takes her passion for good, clean water and teaches children what happens to the water in your body. To capture the essence of “Everlovin Water,” Henriques enlisted the help of her brother Joel, a Portland-based artist. With his use of brightly colored graphics that feature a full cup of water, the sun, and twinkling stars, Joel created a video that through its simplicity allows listeners to truly concentrate on the fun and informative lyrics while grooving to an awesome beat. Click on the link below to enjoy the premiere of “Everlovin Water.” Make sure to stay all the way to the end for an adorable visual surprise. Check out all the songs on What Do You Wish when it is released on Saturday, August 31.
For years we’ve enjoyed music from the Latin GRAMMY and Emmy Award-winning duo of Lucky Diaz and Alisha Gaddis. Now, after a decade of performing as Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, they are reintroducing themselves to audiences as The Lucky Band. While their first album under this new moniker, Buenos Diaz, isn’t set to be released until April 5, The Lucky Band is giving fans a preview of their new bilingual music with the debut of videos for some of the tracks off the album.
With that in mind, there’s no better way to celebrate my favorite day of the week than with the video for The Lucky Band’s new song, “Taco Tuesday.” Infused with a retro-dance vibe, kids will love moving and grooving while learning the taco dance! Take a look.
Veteran songwriters Randy Sharp and Dave Kinnoin return with their third delightfully silly and fun collaboration, Snorkel. Each song tells a story using lyrics that respect the children’s ability to listen closely. The stories may be about a lumberjack who gives his rather large dog a bath, a child who was just trying to be nice and let a squirrel inside, or an ode to the family cat. In with all of the silliness, Randy & Dave also cleverly weave important messages. In “Everybody’s Ignorant,” the emphasis is on the fact that we can’t all know everything while in “Why Not” the main character, rather than simply accepting that something is not possible, decides to use his inquiring mind to figure out “why not” instead. Randy & Dave don’t shy away from using difficult vocabulary on occasion, incorporating terms like hirsute, distortion and consternation into their songs. They provide all of the words and music from Snorkel here, along with a sample of each song so that they can be performed with or without the CD.
Here is the debut of the so-cute-you-can’t-help-but-smile video for the song, “Funny Papers.”
Michael Napolitano, founder of Rockness music, returns with his extremely talented Rockness Monsters on their new album Monster’s Ball, which comes out today. Filled with all original songs written by Napolitano and co-produced by children’s music guru Dean Jones, this is kindie rock at its best. The songs on this album range from the joyful celebration of “S M I L E,” which praises the power of a smile when shared out in the world, to the driving bass line and rock laden instrumentation of the interactive movement song, “Growing Bigger.” Along the way, listeners will enjoy getting on the “Party Train,” learning the styles of dance from over the decades and around the world as they are listed in “People Places Dancing,” and following the instructions on how to move like a robot in “Robot Song.”
Michael & the Rockness Monsters strip things down a bit for the track, “Beautiful Day,” before telling the story of a trip that Michael’s family took in, “Les Lumières de Paris.” Michael’s family’s exploits make another appearance on the album for the tune, “A Fish Named Dog.” Based on the real life experience of his daughter wanting a dog, this song tells the tale of Michael’s daughter being told instead of a dog, she could get a fish, and his daughter in turn naming the fish…dog. To get a small taste of what’s in store when you give Monster’s Ball a listen, check out the video for “A Fish Named Dog” below. If you are looking for fun, interactive music to use with that Kindergarten and up crowd, this album is for you!