“What He Wrote” a song about Thomas Jefferson in honor of Independence Day by Jonathan Sprout

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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – Thomas Jefferson

Happy Independence Day! Today I have another holiday guest post by Jonathan Sprout who, inspired by American Heroes, has created a whole collection of award-winning music in an effort to remember those who have made a significant impact on the history and development of our country. As you can tell from the image and the quote above, today we are remembering Thomas Jefferson.

Thanks to Jonathan’s post, I have been in more thought about what our country was like back in 1776 when we first declared our independence. Rereading the words in the quote above, and thinking about it’s significance in relation to the recent law set by the Supreme Court is eerily on point and gives me goosebumps.

As we celebrate today, whether it’s through parades, waving flags, and chili cook-offs (ahem), we always end with a grand ole celebration of the beautiful lights in the sky. As you get ready to whoop it up today, I would recommend incorporating some time to listen to Jonathan’s words about Thomas Jefferson, finding some good kid reads on this American Hero’s impact in our history, and learning together about the Declaration of Independence.

In his post below, and in “What He Wrote,” Jonathan gets the conversation going enough to pique kids’ interests to learn more about freedoms, and civil rights. Getting into a discussion about what he/she might have done if they were in Jefferson’s shoes will likely invoke some interesting responses. What do your kids feel are their basic rights and how would they act if someone was impeding upon them? It’s always interesting for me to hear what Em has to say. Even if the response is “I don’t know,” I’ve found that I am more motivated to think along with her.

You can find more information and links on this topic at Jonathan’s site.


Thomas Jefferson: My, What He Wrote!
Guest post by Jonathan Sprout

Many people become heroes because of what they do. Once in a while, someone becomes a hero by what they say or write. To me, it’s Thomas Jefferson’s words that define him as one of the great heroes of his age. Thomas Jefferson did many amazing things as an inventor, architect, master gardener, President. He lived his life on the cutting edge of progress. He sent Lewis and Clark on their great mission and more than doubled the size of the United States. He also did some not-so-amazing things. But, my, what he wrote!

There he was, in his early thirties, representing the colony of Virginia in Philadelphia in early summer, 1776. He and representatives from 13 colonies had come together to form a new government. Mr. Jefferson was asked to put into writing for the King of England and the rest of the world what the representatives were demanding and why.

I can’t imagine how overwhelming that first blank page must have appeared to Jefferson. Where would you start? For several weeks, he wrote, edited, revised, tweaked, trashed, and re-wrote until he came up with most of what Americans now call the most important document in America – the Declaration of Independence.

Have you ever actually read this document?

It’s hard for me to imagine how one guy could have done this, mostly on his own. His Declaration was approved by Congress in July of 1776. The rest, as they say, is history.

Jefferson, with his words, expressed the highest of human aspirations becoming the leading spokesman in the revolution of ideas that transformed the way people actually thought in America, and to some extent, around the world.

He changed the world with what he wrote.


Find lyrics at Jonathan’s official Thomas Jefferson page.

Jonathan’s song about Thomas Jefferson, “What He Wrote,” is from his Grammy nominated album, American Heroes #3.

Listen: “Sing A Summer Song” – Charity and the JAMband

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Summer is here and with it comes summer concert time! A regular favorite and just awesome music series is one put on by the Mountain View Library in Pioneer Park under a big oak tree. The series is packed with the best local talent within the SF/Bay Area, and the grounds are gorgeous. Thanks to the tall oak, the cool, shady ground is turned into the biggest and best dance floor. Charity Kahn of Charity and the JAMband site recently opened the series and has been a part of it for a few years now. Inspired by the old oak and the summer music series, she wrote “Sing a Summer Song” (which is also the name of Mountain View Library’s summer music series).

Visit Charity and the JAMband’s official site for updates, shows, meditation classes and even listen to a typical concert set list!

Mother’s Day Premiere: “Mama” – Mista Cookie Jar

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Artwork by Lucas!

“Mama, thank you for bringing me into this world.”

Today I am proud to premiere the 8th single in Mista Cookie Jar’s song-a-month series. Appropriately titled, “Mama,” is his most personal so far. An homage to his mother and his Filipino heritage, MCJ opens up about his parents’ journey to the states and where he grew up. 

She went with Papa
to the land they call America.

Now here I am,
quite the character!
Off the boat, they landed.

Where? It’s kinda random.
I was born in Georgia,
grew up in Alabama.
A country boy

with devotion to his family.
That’s filipino values

and some southern hospitality.

This new track is upbeat with a nice swing to it. MCJ describes it as “Multi-culti hodgepodgeyness with a little reggae.

I love the part where MCJ gratefully sings out ”Thank you for bringing me into this world,” a phrase his mother taught him. “My mom said that to her mom on her birthday and mother’s day. And now I say that to my mom on my birthday and Mother’s Day.” Such an endearing sentiment and reminder to give a big ole shout to all the special mama’s in your life!

Stream today’s premiere below and click through to purchase.

Music Review and Free Mother’s Day Download: Hello My Baby – Vered

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Today’s music review is for a special album that will resonate with new parents, new-ish parents, and grandparents. In honor of Mother’s Day, you will find a free download at the end of this post so read on!

The first time I celebrated Mother’s Day was when I was pregnant. It felt so strange to suddenly be included in this Hallmark holiday without actually having a baby yet. At the same time, I knew it marked a major milestone. I just didn’t know how major. After having my daughter, I remember thinking “Now what?!” Suddenly, I was responsible for this new life, so fragile and dependent, and I felt completely unprepared. I had so many questions! Being around other moms kept me together and sane.  Looking back, I wish I had Vered Benhorin’s new album, Hello My Baby.

Hello My Baby reaches out with a loving hand to remind all of us, babies included, that it’s all ok. Through warm, soothing vocals, Vered relates to her audience like a best friend who understands and will support you. Her songs remind me of how lucky I am to be a mom. Hello My Baby delves into the most complicated aspects of parenting in which we are constantly at odds with selflessness and selfishness; being a parent while still wanting to be nurtured ourselves. As I listen, I find myself laughing, crying and just taken by the reality of it all. 

The album opens with the title track “Hello My Baby,” which is more than just a greeting. In many ways, it’s the start of an experience that reflects the diverse and sometimes conflicted range of emotions that we have as parents. The second song, “Jump,” expresses the joy and and physical response our bodies have when we see that beautiful face, glowing eyes, and bright, toothless smile.  …“makes my insides go jump.”

Since her last record, Vered has spent time working with families and developing her company, Baby in Tune. With advanced degrees in both Music Therapy and Psychology, plus being a mom herself, Vered explains that “These songs are first and foremost based on my personal experience as a mom. But they are also informed by the time I spend listening to new parents who are looking for someone to relate to. I hope that these songs express how we all feel as parents and our connections to ourselves and our babies.”

In “Something other than a Mom,” Vered unmasks the naked, raw emotion of remembering who you were, who are you are now and how the two identities converge into one: “These days i forget to look into a mirror/ But if a glass catches me/ I see something other than a mom/ When I run my hands over my body/ I feel something strange/ It’s not like when i was something other than a mom/ It’s not to say that I don’t like being her/ But I’ve grown to know and love another/ So my baby/ Since you came/ I wonder if she’ll return.” This is something that goes through my mind all the time. Though I have been a mom for six years, and have mostly returned to my pre-baby form, I am still very aware that my body has changed, as has my identity. I know I can’t be the same girl I used to be, but as I listen to this song, I feel that I can be both the mom I am now and the girl I once was. 

Parenting is an adventure which presents many opportunities to learn, change and grow with your baby. Hello My Baby is a memorable album and one that I have not yet encountered in terms of its intent, depth and honesty for parents. This special collection of songs bridges the connection between parent to baby, encouraging a rich bonding experience. This album is a perfect companion to Vered’s debut, Good Morning My Love. I just wish I was handed these CDs instead of sitting through a birthing video from the 60’s in Lamaze class.

BONUS: I hope you enjoyed today’s music review! Hello My Baby is an exceptional album. In honor of Mother’s Day, Vered is offering Kids Can Groove readers a free download of her song “Changing.” Grab it here

Learn more about Vered’s work at the Baby in Tune official site.

For tips on using music to bond with your baby, check out Vered’s guest post here.

Check This Out: Classic Songs and Traditional Tunes – Andy Z

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In the children’s music genre there are folk songs a plenty, and with good reason. Their repetitive choruses encourage language development, and build a foundation for rhythm and rhyme. Many of them offer opportunities for movement, as well. I know I’m not the only one who has galloped around the room while singing “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain!”

Releasing an album full of traditional folk and classic children’s songs may not be out of the ordinary, however, as much as I have heard “This Land Is Your Land,” “Your Are My Sunshine,” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” I always appreciate when artists put an original spin on them, essentially creating something that feels new. That’s the difference for me every time.

Andy Zs sixth studio album, Classic Songs and Traditional Tunes, does just that. While planning for the release of this album, the Bay Area-based musician spent time researching the origins of popular folk songs in an effort to present them in their original lyrical form. Andy preserves the authentic sounds of the genre through carefully curated orchestral arrangements and infuses them with his signature charm and positive energy.

Families will enjoy singing along with “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” a seasonal classic, revisiting the wild west with “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” and harmonizing to “Happy Trails,” which features a sweet duet with Karla Kane from The Corner Laughers. Younger listeners (pre-school to lower elementary ages) will smile as they “Shake a Friend’s Hand,” “Shake Their Sillies Out,” and do “The Hokey Pokey.”

Em and I listened to the album together, and as she heard “This Land is Your Land” followed by “Shake a Friend’s Hand,” she proudly sang along excited by the fact that she knew all of the words. As I listened to her, I recalled how we sang together during her toddler years. It was surprisingly nostalgic.

Classic Songs and Traditional Tunes is an enjoyable collection of time-honored tracks that will appeal to children and adults of all ages. Sometimes reinventing the wheel can fall flat, but taking that same wheel and giving it a fresh coat of paint can be a wonderful thing.

Learn more about Andy’s latest efforts and Listen to samples from the album at the official “Classic Songs and Traditional Tunes site.”

Also make sure to check out the stellar troupe of Bay Area artists that accompanied Andy on “The Team” page at the official “Classic Songs and Traditional Tunes site.”

The album is available for purchase through CDBaby, Itunes, and Amazon.

Be sure to catch more of Andy’s tunes by subscribing to his Pandora channel.

Earth Day – Celebrating the Planet and remembering John Muir with a song. “Come Back Home” by Jonathan Sprout

Photo by Lisell Ashock

Photo by Lisell Ashock

“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
John Muir

Happy Earth Day!

Where I live there are tons of Redwoods. They stand tall like soldiers commanding their territory. They are mighty, and I am completely drawn to them, taken in by their majesty and beauty. As I walk through preservations and national parks, I always find myself wondering what the trees could tell us if they were able to speak. I Imagine they would be some of the best historians and storytellers.

I’ve been to the Muir Woods National Monument, a Redwood forest named in honor of John Muir. It’s incredible and I would recommend this site to everyone. It should without a doubt be a bucket list item! It’s a sacred place and the size of the Redwood Trees is mystifying (as are the banana slugs!). There is so much peace and though there are usually people walking along the trails, taking pictures, there is a great feeling of peace and so much room for contemplation. There is even a Cathedral Grove which asks people to be silent and simply observe the beautiful sounds of nature. It truly is amazing how much you can hear. Life in the forest is abundant and as I walk through or sit and listen, there is a great feeling of interconnectedness.

As they day unfolds and Earth Day activities ensue, I have another song for you about an American hero who, along with Rachel Carson, made a significant impact in the way of wilderness preservation. John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, is known as the most influential conservationist and naturalist in America. Muir went on many adventures through the woods, observing the beauty of the natural world around him.

Jonathan Sprout, an award-winning children’s musician and historian, has produced 4 albums filled with songs inspired by American Heroes. Sprout’s American Heroes #3 album includes a song written in honor of John Muir. “Come Back Home” was written in the first person as though Muir himself were singing about the mountains, his dreams of exploring, climbing, and protecting them.

As I was talking with Sprout about the inspiration for this song, I found out that there was a period of time that Muir went blind. This was something I didn’t know and I can’t imagine based on all that Muir has written about with regard to his observations. Below Sprout shares some thoughts and facts about Muir which is followed by the audio clip of “Come Back Home.”

John Muir knew how to look for gifts in life, even in his darkest moments.

In his twenties, he was a nature lover and successful inventor who could probably have become wealthy if he’d wanted. At the age of 29, tragedy struck. Or did it? He was bent over a bench, working on one of his inventions when a file flew up into his face, punctured and eye, and blinded him in both eyes.

For four weeks, he lay in bed with his eyes bandaged, having no idea if he’d ever be able to see again. With plenty of time to think, he made a promise that if ever again he could see, he’d forget about his inventions and instead devote the rest of his life to “the inventions of nature.”

Later, surprisingly, he regained his sight.

“Six months after the accident, he left his house and went for a walk. A 1,000 mile walk! Eventually, he visited the California mountains where lumber companies were destroying the priceless redwood and giant sequoia trees.      It was time for John Muir to keep that promise.

The way he stood up for those trees inspires me as much as the simple fact that he did. Instead of attacking the greedy lumber companies, pointing out what was wrong, he chose to write about how beautiful and inspiring these trees are. His optimistic, poetic, and uplifting magazine articles and books stirred others from far and wide to meet, sympathize with, and fall in love with these giant trees. New activists stood behind Muir, and their combined efforts (mostly with the Sierra Club which Muir co-founded in 1892) stopped the destruction of the trees.

The accident with John Muir’s eyes brought great gifts to the rest of us. John Muir’s optimistic view of nature’s beauties helped redefine the ways we now view nature.

Personally, John Muir’s life has greatly influenced mine. I now own and live in a low carbon footprint home with a well, septic system, and wood burning stove. The solar panels are coming soon. I’m told by the park rangers out there in California there are redwood trees growing in every state. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to grow them from seeds. But how cool would it be to have a redwood tree growing in my Pennsylvania backyard! Perhaps this year, I’ll try again. Anyone know where I can get some seeds?


More about Sprout

Singer-songwriter and recording artist, Jonathan Sprout has dedicated the past 21 years to creating meaningful and captivating music for children. Sprout began this journey in 1994 after reading the results of a nationwide poll detailing children’s top 10 heroes, which included cartoon characters such as Bart Simpson and Beavis & Butthead along with several professional athletes whose off-field antics were anything but heroic. This made Sprout question, “who are our real heroes and why are we not teaching our children about their importance?” That’s when Sprout’s idea to write and record songs for children about real heroes was born.

Since then, Jonathan Sprout has written over forty songs and has released four American Heroes albums about some of the most remarkable men and women in American history. His albums detail the amazing stories of legends ranging from Pocahontas to Neil Armstrong. With the help of author-lecturer Dr. Dennis Denenberg, a noted heroes specialist, Sprout “chose people who lived and breathed elements of good character and are good examples that children can understand and emulate.” His list of heroes includes politicians, athletes, scientists, feminists, civil rights leaders, and many other admirable individuals.

“The Siblings Shake” – Happy National Siblings Day with The Mother Company And Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band

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It’s hard enough navigating through this world as a single child, and just when you feel like you’ve got a handle on things a sibling comes into your world and changes up the dynamic. I have heard from many moms with multiples how intense the fighting can be at times. On the other hand, there are beautiful moments where siblings just hug it out like crazy and play together like the best friends.

The Siblings Show,” the latest installment in the “Ruby’s Studio” series, a multiple award winning show produced by The Mother Company, aims to encourage harmonious relationships between young siblings. Through animation and problem solving skits The Siblings Show offers relatable scenarios and tools to help siblings learn to understand and express their feelings, embrace teamwork and celebrate family. The show also addresses topics such as birth order, adoption, and anxiety around a new baby. Em has been very outspoken about not wanting a sibling for fear of losing time with us so being able to watch something that speaks to her and can comfort her is reassuring.

In honor of National Siblings Day, The Mother Company released a video performed by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band for the song “The Siblings Shake.” As expected, Lucky and Alisha pour their infectious, sunny personality into this song with a bit of whimsy and humor. It’s hard not to feel the love when watching these two!

The Mother company is an awesome group of moms and experts who aim to provide rich entertainment to young children, and advice for parents. In addition to their latest installment, they also offer episodes empowering kids in areas of friendship, being the boss of their own body and safety. There is something for everyone in the family! Visit The Mother Company’s site and check it all out.

You can learn more about “The Siblings Show” and purchase the full-length DVD here.