Forty-five years ago, politician and activist Harvey Milk asked artist Gilbert Baker to create a symbol of gay pride. The result was the original gay pride rainbow flag. According to the Human Rights Campaign, the colors of what is known as the Gilbert Baker Pride flag represent different aspects of the LGBTQ+ community – “hot pink represents sex, red symbolizes life, orange stands for healing, yellow equals sunlight, green stands for nature, turquoise symbolizes magic and art, indigo represents serenity, while violet symbolizes the spirit of LGBTQ+ people.” Shortly following the creation of the flag, the hot pink and turquoise stripes were removed. The traditional pride flag as we know it continues to be a representation of the LGBTQ+ community, but also serves as a reminder to all of us that we need to celebrate and love those around us not just during the month of June, but all year long.
“Wave a Flag for Harvey Milk” is the first single off the upcoming Smithsonian Folkways album Mr. Greg and Cass McCombs Sing and Play New Folk Songs for Children. While this is the first children’s album for singer-songwriter Cass McCombs and preschool teacher Greg Gardner, they have been collaborating since they were teens in the Bay Area. That history together is evident in the smart, well-crafted melody and lyrics of this debut song. Featuring animation of illustrations created by Gardner and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus lending their vocal might, “Wave a Flag for Harvey Milk” is a song that everyone should hear. For more information on the creation of the Pride flag, pair this video with the picture book,Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Steven Salerno.
Hurray! The first official day of summer is finally here!! As adults we sometimes get bogged down in the details of grown-up life, bemoaning the fact that it’s hot, the energy bill is going to go up, the lawn needs to be mowed (again), etc. and we forgot about the simple joys that come with the lazy, hazy days of summer. Luckily, Dana’s Music Playground is here to remind us of just how great it is to be a kid this time of year. “Bring on Summer” captures all the colorful excitement and joy of the season, and celebrates with sunshine, bike rides, hikes, s’mores and more! Check out the video below.
Esther Crow brings audiences another Earth conscious video in “Christmas Socks (Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose),” her follow up to October’s “Homemade Halloween.” This time around, Esther and her sock puppet friends encourage viewers to explore ways to repurpose items like jam jars, coffee tins, and wrapping paper into gifts and decorations. Esther never shies away from her message, but wraps it in a fun melody with a 1950’s flair (featuring a kazoo solo!!) that will have listeners chanting “recycle, reuse, repurpose!”
As a child of the 80s, I grew up having a great appreciation for homemade costumes. My mom was incredibly creative (If you showed her an egg carton, she came up with half a dozen uses for it. Show me an egg carton, I see an egg carton.) – she could knit, crochet, paint ceramics, and most importantly, sew. Whether it was a new blouse or dress, doll clothes, or holiday decor, she could do it all. And when it came to Halloween, my mom’s creativity and skill really got a chance to shine.
Each year as October 31st rolled around, my sister and I were allowed to let our imaginations run wild. Once in a while we got a store bought costume, but for the most part, our costumes were homemade. We would often combine items from around the house with things that my mom made. One year, my gym shorts and tennis shoes were the perfect accompaniment to an exotic bird mask while the next year, I raided my mom’s closet for jewelry and scarves to be a fortune teller. My sister on the other hand went a little grander, portraying things like a Hershey’s chocolate bar, a jack o’lantern, and a slice of watermelon.
I had forgotten about these costumes until I watched the video for Esther Crow’s new holiday song, “Homemade Halloween.” As soon as I heard the opening lyrics to this rocker of a tune, my Halloween memories came flooding back. One of the things I love most about this song, aside from the nostalgia factor, is that not only does it encourage creativity, but also sustainability – a theme that runs through much of Esther’s music. If the kids in your life haven’t chosen their costumes yet, watch “Homemade Halloween” for inspiration then look around the house to see what wonderous outfits you can create.
First recorded in 1726, the term Davy Jones’s locker has always called to mind images of a murky, watery grave inhabited by an evil spirit of the sea; and at first glance, this version from New Zealand’s Jackie B and the Mini Band is no different. Soon though, three fearful little pirates find themselves learning the importance of kindness and friendship. Jackie Bristow’s lyrics and music (including a haunting chorus that will draw listeners in and won’t let them go) combine perfectly with animation by Brad Goosen and illustration by Edmund Ifflen to create a visual adventure that elevates the song’s storyline, taking it in an unexpected direction. Rich with details, children will discover new surprises with each viewing.
“I choose happy, it looks good on me. I choose joy and I am free.” These are the opening lines to the chorus of “I Choose Happy,” the newest song from Birdie (California-based duo Teresa Gasca-Burk and Gary Burk). Sung while children play in the park, laughing, and enjoying being with one another, these lyrics, as well as the rest in this sweet, up-tempo song, encourage young viewers to embrace the goodness in life and share it with those around them – a message and reminder that we could all use once in a while. Watching this video, you’ll have no choice but to smile and be happy!
Welcome to the second of two videos in this spotlight series highlighting songs that have come out in this new phase of the pandemic-era. Following up Monday’s “Fauci Ouchie” is the latest single fromDaria, “Thanks to the Doctors and Nurses.” With four decades of experience as a songwriter, folk singer, and ethnomusicologist, Daria uses her expertise as a pioneer in world music for children to create a beautiful tribute to the women and men who continue to work tirelessly to keep us safe and healthy, whether or not there is a pandemic. The unusual melody line of “Thanks to the Doctors and Nurses” takes unexpected dips and turns while being perfectly paired with engaging animation that features a diverse cast. This video will engage children and leave them wanting to show a little kindness by saying thank you to all of the doctors and nurses they encounter in their lives.
The coming week is going to be very interesting. After two years of masking and social distancing and vaccinations, we are now entering a new stage that basically says, “it’s ok to go back to life as you knew it.” For some, it’s a time of jubilation. For others, it’s a time of uneasiness. No matter your view on it though, I hope that we are all able to be respectful of one another’s decisions (to mask, or not to mask) and to show one another kindness in the days and weeks to come.
This week, as we work our way through this next stage in the pandemic, I am highlighting two recent children’s music videos. Today’s video comes from GRAMMY-winner Joanie Leeds and was just released on Friday. Featuring Joanie and her six-year-old daughter Joya, “Fauci Ouchie” is a fun, catchy tune with the goal of taking the scariness out of getting vaccinated. While the lyrics specifically mention the Fauci Ouchie, the song and video are general enough that it could be used for years to come to ease the fears of young children as they face the many vaccination shots that are necessary throughout their early lives.
I always enjoy it when an artist moves beyond their typical musical stylings and tries something new. That is exactly what Steve Pullara & His Cool Beans Band did recently with the video for their latest single, “Alien Babies From Outer Space.” This fun, quirky, electronica-filled tune is brought to life with retro-fueled imagery that recalls the early days of science fiction films. Children will love bopping around to the beat while watching the escapades of the adorably portrayed alien babies who are “coming to take us away!”
While everyday should be Mister Rogers Day, the official celebration as declared by Mister Rogers’s home state of Pennsylvania is May 23. Why May 23? It’s the 143rd day of the year which also happens to be Mister Rogers’s favorite number. But 143 is not just any random number. In fact it holds a lot of significance. For Mister Rogers, 143 symbolized “I Love You.” I is one letter long, love is four letters long and you is three, hence 143. Veteran children’s performer Andy Z has taken 143 and created a lovely song in the spirit of Mister Rogers and his philosophy of kindness and love. His video, “1 4 3,” explains the meaning of 143 set against a colorful, joyful animated background. As the normalcy of life returns, it’s more important than ever to remember that we need to continue to care about one another and show that care in big and little acts of kindness. Don’t just sit there, get out and spread the love!