Fresh Press Digest 002 – Laurie Berkner partners with Simon & Schuster, Lisa Loeb’s new album with Amazon, and a Mighty Mo Productions debut

Hello Everybody! Welcome back to the Kids Can Groove Fresh Press Digest!

Edition 002 is full of new and exciting news.

unnamedLaurie Berkner & Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers to Publish Three Picture Books

This is a HUGE announcement! Laurie Berkner will publish three picture books with Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

Starting in Spring 2017, Berkner will release the first book based on one of her most popular songs, We Are the DinosaursShortly thereafter, Pillowland, a gorgeous lullaby destined to become a beloved bedtime book, is due out in Fall 2017 and will be illustrated by Camille Garoche. Monster Boogie, a hit at Berkner’s live shows, is scheduled for Summer 2018, also to be illustrated by Ben Blanton.

Laurie Berkner, as many of you may know was a former preschool music teacher and indie rocker. Her latest album, Laurie Berkner’s Favorite Classic Kids’ Songs, hits stores this month (October 23, 2015!). The album includes 51 well-loved, traditional children’s songs, plus 6 bonus tracks of popular Laurie Berkner originals. Click on the album link in this post for more info.

“It is no wonder that Laurie is beloved by children and adored by parents,” says Christian Trimmer, executive editor, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. “Her songs, besides being incredibly catchy, are crafted with the utmost care and respect for her audience. She understands what kids, parents, and educators want and need. On top of that, she’s just really cool. I’m very excited to be making books with her.”

“I could not be more thrilled about my collaboration with Simon & Schuster,” says Laurie Berkner. “I’ve always imagined my songs being made into picture books. Now Ben’s and Camille’s stunning talents will bring them to life in ways I can only dream of! Their talent and Simon & Schuster’s expertise (with the gifted Christian Trimmer at the helm) is the perfect combination to help me create many wonderful books to share with my fans.”

516KOzNrsUL._SS280_PJStripe-Robin,TopLeft,0,0Lisa Loeb’s Nursery Rhyme Parade is available through Amazon Music! 

Lisa Loeb’s fourth children’s album, Nursery Rhyme Parade! is now being offered exclusively to Amazon Prime members through Amazon Music HERE. This album is also one of two children’s albums to debut on Amazon Music this fall. Loeb’s new recording will be available in both digital format and as a CD package, available on-demand.

Nursery Rhyme Parade is chock full of familiar nurser rhymes and songs  – 35 to be exact! – perfect for building a musical foundation for teeny tiny and toddling ones. Songs on the album include guest artists such as singer-songwriter Renee Stahl of Renee & Jeremy and Renee & Friends, with children’s voices rounding out the joyful tome of the album. Acclaimed children’s book and magazine illustrator Ekaterina Trukhan created the bright animal art for the album.

Many of you may recall from her hit song “Stay (I Missed You)” from the film Reality Bites. Her music career has stayed strong in both adult and family genres while also designing Lisa Loeb Eyewear, writing children’s books, and supporting non-profit causes. The Los Angeles based mother of two is well known to parents and kids for her albums Catch the Moon (with Elizabeth Mitchell) and Camp Lisa (with sales benefiting the Camp Lisa Foundation). She published her second picture book-CD for Sterling Children’s Books: Lisa Loeb’s Songs for Movin’ and Shakin’, in 2013. Lisa recently collaborated to co-write the children’s musical “Camp Kappawanna,” which debuted at New York City’s Atlantic Theater Company.

6PAN1T-C PSDNew Kindie lablel, Mighty Mo Productions, releases debut compilation featuring award-winning artists.

On October 16, 2015 Mighty Mo Productions released its first album called Smiles Ahead. The compilation is filled with award-winning artists like Grammy winners The Okee Dokee Brothers, Grammy nominees The Pop Ups and Secret Agent 23 SkidooBrady Rymer and The Verve Pipe, Billboard Top 100 artist Rissi Palmer, and multi-award-winning artists like Frances England, Kira Willey, Grenadilla, Johnny BregarMista Cookie Jar, Caspar Babypants and a debut artist, Katydid.

Smiles Ahead can be purchased through the label’s site, Amazon,  and iTunes.

Check out previously published interviews and videos with featured artists Frances England and Rissi Palmer.

#WhatMakesYouSmile featuring Rissi Palmer celebrating the release of Mighty Mo’s Smiles Ahead


The idea of living life with childlike wonder has been rolling around in my mind for a while, and not just because I’m a mom. Sometimes I just want to get closer to that uninhibited, ridiculously silly voice that otherwise takes a backseat to professional and parental obligations. Obviously, as a mature adult I can’t get too uninhibited, but, in general, my day could really brighten up with a little more nonsense and play. Kids are amazing in that respect. They move through life in moments, and their joy is naturally infectious.

For my daughter, each day begins with a fresh new perspective. Waking up to our dog licking her face, catapulting into my bed in the morning, wearing a cape, drawing on a pristine piece of paper, or just holding a pretty marble are all things that make her smile. That’s the beauty of childhood and something I truly envy at times! It’s also what makes being a parent such an adventure, keeping me closer to living life with childlike wonder.

Celebrating that unfettered joy and offering it up in the form of music is something I tend to get really excited about. Rissi Palmer, a North Carolina-based singer-songwriter, is featured on Smiles Ahead, a compilation that is debuting today by new kids music label Mighty Mo Productions. What you will immediately notice is that Rissi’s voice is golden, and her song “Best Day Ever” is just such a wonderful reminder that life’s precious and most gleeful moments can be found in the little things. Whether it’s the bestest breakfast or just chillin’ in your jammies, it’s the in-between, the tiny details that make life so sweet.

Many of you may be familiar with Rissi from the Country music world. Best Day Ever is also the name of her debut family album and there is just so much soul and joy in this record. Rissi has had an extremely accomplished (putting it mildly) career as a Country Soul singer, including earning a comfy spot in Billboard’s Hot 100, and recently appearing on the Tavis Smiley Show. She’s amazing and another excellent choice that makes Mighty Mo’s new compilation such a treasure.

Smiles Ahead will be available in select Hallmark Stores. You can also purchase it online at Mighty Mo Produtions’ official site, iTunes and Amazon.

Below, Rissi shares what makes her smile, and I am extending the same questions to all of you. I would love to hear what makes you, your family, your pets smile.

For more #WhatMakesYouSmile goodness check out the post I published earlier this week featuring Frances England. You can listen to and watch the video for “The Sun Will Shine Again” here.

Kids Can Groove: Tell me about “Best Day Ever.” Is there a special meaning or inspiration behind it?

RP: “Best Day Ever” was the first song written when I decided to do a children’s album. My co writers (Deanna Walker, Rick Beresford, & Blue Miller) and I sat in Blue’s studio with my then 9 month old daughter Grace as our inspiration/mascot and talked about all the things that would make up a kid’s perfect day. It turned out to be such a fun song and set the tone for all the other songs on the album that we decided to make it the title of the whole project.

KCG: How did you earn about Smiles Ahead, and what drew you to it? 

RP: Jim Cosgrove gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse lol! Once I heard the concept and who was on the project, I was sold.  This is a special thing and I’m really honored to be a part of it. I especially love the tag line “cool music for cool families”.

KCG: What makes you smile? Could be a memory or two, a special someone or something like fills you up, etc.

RP: Listening to my 4-year-old daughter, Grace, sing the songs she makes up makes me smile. Music has been a lifelong passion of mine and it brings me so much joy to see my child grow to love it as well.

KCG: What is next on the horizon for you?

RP: I am currently recording a Christmas EP that will be released in November 2015 entitled 3 and I’m on the road supporting my “adult” EP, The Back Porch Sessions, which was released in May 2015.

#WhatMakesYouSmile Interview: Frances England featured on Mighty Mo Productions debut Smiles Ahead


Since the school year started, and we’ve gone up a grade, I’ve been feeling conflicted. Almost 7, my little girl is growing up and with developmental changes and maturity comes the desire for more independence. As much pride as I feel watching her flap her wings, I also feel some unexplainable pangs of fear and vulnerability. I already see her setting higher expectations for herself and staying affected for a little longer than usual after a challenging situation. At the same time, the zeal she carries with her every day is inspiring. Together our perspective is shared, and as a result we are constantly learning new ways to navigate the life’s greatest adventures together. In reality, though, she is my muse.

Regardless of what comes her way, I just want her to be able to draw upon the wealth of knowledge she gains from our shared experiences. And to help achieve that, I am striving to better model my reactions for her. It’s not always easy to articulate the right words, and thankfully, when words can’t describe big emotions, music does. It can set the scene, undeniably capture the spirit of the moment, and offer just the right words. It can literally turn a frown upside down.

Frances England has consistently been able to capture the unexplainable with her soft but powerful voice. Her words are precious as well, and together with her euphonious acoustic melodies she just finds a way to breathe out compassion and courage. England’s song “The Sun Will Shine Again,” is featured on a new kindie compilation called Smiles Ahead which is being released on October 16, 2015 through Mighty Mo Productions. Also featured on her 2013 release, Blink of an Eye, “The Sun Will Shine Again” is a comforting track that looks at life with an optimistic view. Life can be unpredictable and reassurance from a comforting voice is sometimes exactly what we need to find that smile ahead.

 Mo Productions was created by Jim “Mr. Stinky Feet” Cosgrove and Tom Brantman a Kansas City musician and integral part of Kansas City Jiggle-Jam, a highly regarded family music festival. Smiles Ahead is the label’s first album and, in addition to England, the compilation features a slew of top, award-winning artists making music for families like The Okee Dokee Brothers, Grammy nominated The Pop Ups, Brady Rymer, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Rissi Palmer, Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips, Johnny Bregar, Grenadilla and Kira Willey. The album also includes fresh new tracks by Caspar Babypants and The Verve Pipe, and a debut single from Katydid. It’s an excellently curated compilation and one that is aptly named. It definitely delivers on the promise of its name.

As to how England’s track adds to the compilation, Cosgrove explains, “When I first heard this song, I fell in love with it. And then when we decided to do this project, I knew we had to include it. It’s so full of hope, and it’s a great reminder that sometimes happiness can blossom from a very low place. Kids get that. And Frances‘ voice is so comforting! She makes us all feel like everything is going to be just fine and beautiful.”

In honor of today’s release, I am so pleased to present an interview with Frances England. Check out what makes her smile. And to keep the warm, fuzzy feeling going, please leave a comment letting us know what makes you happy!


Kids Can Groove: Can you tell us the inspiration behind the song, “The Sun Will Shine Again?”

Frances England: “The Sun Will Shine Again” is really about accepting that some days bad things happen — you get knocked down, you feel mad or angry about something — but you have to move past those feelings and start again.  It’s also about taking risks – if you never try something new, you don’t grow as a person.  Taking risks is also about being ok with making mistakes, learning from them and trying again.

KCG: How did you come to learn about Smiles Ahead and what drew you to it?

FE: I learned about Smiles Ahead from Jim Cosgrove and I was immediately interested because of him. Jim’s been making wonderful music for kids and families for a long time and he has so much heart and passion around the projects he’s involved in. So when he told me he was putting together a compilation of good-vibe songs that make people smile, I wanted to be part of that!  And so many of my favorite kindie artists are on this cd so I feel really honored to be part of this project for that reason too.

KCG: What makes you smile? 

FE: So many things make me smile everyday –  my sons’ original jokes & detailed sketches and drawings, my husband skating boarding with my boys, my dog when she gets to run off leash, the quirky neighbors on my block that always have something to say about the weather, the surfers who walk through my neighborhood in wetsuits down to Ocean Beach.  There are so many reasons to smile – I feel lucky everyday.

KCG: What is next on the horizon for you?

FE: I have a new album coming out early next year called, Explorer of the World.  It’s co-produced by Dean Jones & Dave Winer and it’s all about exploration, observation and investigation.  The sound is very different than my previous music – a lot more beats, drum machines, horns, analog synth sounds.  The three of us had such a good time making this record and I can not wait to share it with everyone.

Audio premiere: “It’s Only In Your Head” – Mista Cookie Jar & The Chocolate Chips


Life can be a little scary for kids. So many changes are happening it’s as if their heads could start to spin any moment. Unfortunately, little minds tend to process life’s cornucopia while they are asleep. When Emily was younger she used to refer to her dreams as the movies in her mind. When she would wake up, she would either refer to what she saw as a bad movie or a good movie and recount the scenes with plenty of detail. The bad movies were scary and disorienting, and I always found it hard to explain wicked dreams as the result of an overactive mind. Even pretending to spray the monsters away after a sudden nightmare didn’t always provide relief. 

In the spirit of squashing late night haunts, I am proud to present the premiere of the 13th single by Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips. Sprinkled with echoing soundbites and twinkling glockenspiel,“It’s Only In Your Head” reminds kids that no matter how real things seem when they close their eyes, they are safe and surrounded by the love that awaits them when they wake up. And that is the perfect remedy for any scary thoughts or moving images that affect their slumber.

Today’s premiere serves as a mile marker that closes up the circle in Mista Cookie Jar’s “song-a-month” project making 13 a pretty fantastic number. CJ Pizarro (“Mista Cookie Jar”) shares his thoughts and inspiration behind the song:

“‘It’s Only In Your Head’ is four years in the making, so it really took it’s time to simmer. I had a feeling that this was gonna be a deeper one than usual and it took me a while to figure out the full scope of where it was going both musically and lyrically. And now here it is, just in time for the anniversary of the first single, “Halloween Every Night.” I realized it’s a song to encourage the little ones when they hit fear in regards to dreams, odd synchronicities and self-doubt. It’s a heart song about free will really — managing the darkness on a “feeling” level. As the saying goes, “Life is but a dream.” The power of imagination mixed with a good heart plus the collective hearts of a village can turn a major nay into a yay and move mountains.

In terms of children’s works, there’s an abundance of fantasy and stories about dreaming, i.e. Alice In Wonderland, Peter Pan, and my favorite, the films of Miyazaki. It’s my theory (and not just mine of course) that children by nature are tapped into the otherworldly. Everything is so new to them, they might not even understand the difference between reality and dream. The imagination of the child is sacred for sure. “

Fresh Press Digest 001: Billboard features Latin Children’s Musicians, Loog Guitars launched lessons with Tim Kubart, The Pop Ups debut through Amazon Music, and Rhapsody releases Rhapsody KIDS

Welcome to the first “Fresh Press” edition here on Kids Can Groove. It’s a brave new world for Chidren’s Music and I want to capture related and exciting news, in addition to my regular features, reviews, videos and interviews.

To kick off the first Fresh Press post, let’s start with the Billboard feature by Judy Cantor-Navas, Billboard Correspondent and Billboard en Español Managing Editor, who published a great article titled 5 Latin Children’s Music Artists You Should Know which highlights Jose-Luis Orozco123 Andrès, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam BandSonia de Los Santos and Chino y Nacho.

This Billboard feature was published during a particularly celebratory time for Latin Children’s musicians. In addition to it being Hispanic Heritage Month, 123 Andrès was recently awarded his first Latin Grammy Award nomination for ¡Uno, Dos, Tres, Andrés! en Español y en Inglés and Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band celebrate their second Latin Grammy Award nomination for Adelante! (they won their first Latin Grammy Award for Aqui, Alla). 

Additional musicians covered are José-Luis Orozco and Sonia de Los Santos. Orozco, a prominent figure in this style of music has had a prolific career as a bilingual musician, composer and educator. Not only is he releasing bis sixteenth album, ¡Come Bien! Eat Right!, but it’s also his first release through Smithsonian Folkways! Joining Orozco on the list is Sonia de Los Santos, a singer-songwriter who has been an integral part of the Grammy Award winning group Dan Zanes and Friends. Sonia is working on her first solo family music album.

NOTE: Videos by Billboard’s featured artists can be found within the article. Below is Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band’s latest video for “Piñata Attack” (a live version can be found within the Billboard article as well).


Loog Guitars launches Loog Academy featuring guitar lessons with Tim Kubart of the Sprout Channel’s Sunny Side Side Up Show!

The new Loog website launched an all new Loog Academy featuring Tim Kubart of Sprout’s Sunny Side Up Show giving some expert lessons to get beginner players started. There is also a ‘parents’ page addressing the benefits of kids with children and for families playing music together. Check out Lesson 1: The Loog method overview with Tim here.

Also, Loog released a new Loog Electric Guitar series which features a Lucite model for hip young rockstars. Additional electric guitars come in a variety colors including pink, blue, yellow, white, green, red, black, and natural. Loog’s beautifully designed 3-string guitars make it easier for kids to make music and still allows them play chords in any song. It’s a less intimidating and quicker approach to the fun of making music. The Loog Guitar comes unassembled as a kit for children and parents to build together, creating an instant emotional bond between musician and their instrument- also a great fit for the current DIY/maker trend. The finished result is a fully functional, beautiful looking and sounding guitar. The holidays are just around the corner (already!) and giving the gift of music, with long-lasting, quality equipment is priceless. Especially when little rockers want to smash their guitar after an awesome living room performance.

Loog pricing

ElectricLoog $199
ElectricLoog in Lucite $299
Special Edition Jack White/ Little Third Man Electric Guitar $200
AcousticLoog $159

Various accessories including Loog custom fit backpacks for guitar transport are also available at

Also, check out Tim and the Space Cadet’s new video for “Breakfast Club (feat. Carly Ciarocchi) from Kubart’s recently released album for families, Home.

610+A9x2u7L._SS280_PJStripe-Robin,TopLeft,0,0The Pop Ups release their third album, Great Pretenders Club, exclusively online through Amazon Music with Lisa Loeb to follow. The release of The Pop Ups’ third album marks a major milestone as this is the first kids’ album Amazon’s Editors chose to exclusively release to Amazon Prime members. Anyone visiting Amazon can purchase the album, but Prime members get the extra special privilege of downloading the album for free. The Pop Ups will be releasing videos for each song on the album through Amazon Music’s YouTube channel so make sure to subscribe. You can also catch up with The Pop Ups through to their newsletter, follow along in Twitter and/or Facebook to stay up to date on releases.
In the meantime, enjoy the first video from Great Pretenders Clu, “Bird and Rhino.”


Rhapsody launches Rhapsody KIDS a new streaming service  (as part of their main app) specifically targeting younger listeners and their families.

The main Rhapsody app is a subscription-based model which means access to music is available for a set monthly price. Rhapsody is offering a special subscription rate bundle with Rhapsody KIDS for $1/month for 3 months and then the pricing goes up to $9.99/month.

Below are some of the highlights that Rhapsody KIDS offers.

  • Create-your-own: Parents can select songs from the main Rhapsody app and add them to a playlist in the KIDS section.
  • Featured editor curated songs and playlists.
  • Offline Access – Save your data plan! Anything that’s bookmarked for kids automatically downloads for offline listening.
  • Repetition is key – Songs and playlists in Rhapsody KIDS automatically loop so you’re kids can hear their favorites til the cows come home.
  • Keep it separate – The KIDS section is designed to fool the young’uns from getting back into the main Rhapsody catalog and revamping your playlists or cranking out some jams to a song you wouldn’t even want to play in public. Rhapsody requires users who want to return to the main app to swipe the screen in a specific direction.

For more info on the artists mentioned in this edition of “Fresh Press” click on the accompanying links in this post.

Stay tuned here for more “Fresh Press!” I’ll be back with updates next week.

Video: “L-O-V-E You” – Play Date


Recently, Play Date released a video and it’s L-O-V-E-L-Y. Together, Gregory Attonito and Shanti Wintergate (husband-wife duo) capture the spirit, mystery, playfulness and omnipresence of love. It’s such a sweet video to accompany an equally heartwarming song.

Take a listen and then go spread some of that warmth to the loved one(s) in your life.

“L-O-V-E You” is a single from Play Date’s most recent release We All Shine which can be purchased through Play Date’s merch site.

The Digital Future of Kids Music: Rhapsody launches Rhapsody KIDS


Recently there have been a couple of big announcements in the kids music world that further underscore the shifting of the tides with regard to streaming media. Spearheading the big news was the release of the Pop Ups’ latest album, Great Pretenders Club, which is being offered exclusively online through Amazon Music, along with music videos for each song. The second is Rhapsody’s launch of Rhapsody KIDS, a dedicated resource specifically targeting younger listeners and their families.

The introduction of a new streaming service for kids isn’t that surprising as there are many streaming-video services already offering the convenience of a kid-friendly zone (Netflix, YouTube, Comcast XFinity).  But, the move to create a streaming-music section especially for kids is trendsetting as there isn’t one streaming/subscription based model that has a separate kids section yet. Digital outlets and streaming media competitors like Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music offer access to titles within the Children’s Music category, but still require parents to sample and search for an artist/song, music channel, and select/create curated playlists. And there is essentially no buffer between kid-appropriate content vs grownup content. In other words, you can’t just hand your digital device over and not expect some exploring or tinkering with “your stuff.” With Rhapsody KIDS, Rhapsody is essentially promising a “hands-free, worry-free” experience where parents can let the kids “drive.”

As a someone who is professionally immersed in kids music what struck me about this new service is the impact that it could have for the genre as a whole. How this plays out financially for artists is another story, as small royalty payments and the loss of CD sales to streaming media continue to be sensitive topics. The thing that I find intriguing is the exposure potential that a dedicated kids music resource could offer, similar to the way Sirius XM’s Kids Place Live has made satellite radio a conduit for families to discover music together. While I recognize that exposure is in no way a substitute for the value of an artist’s time and craft, having a special “nook,” could add significant value through more focused research by dedicated music editors, and parent-child interaction. As the progression of kids music leans toward more of an all ages experience, where the sounds and quality of the lyrics are meant to appeal just as much to grownups, Rhapsody KIDS could open up a path toward a shared listening experience. As a parent I recognize the convenience of this service, and am eager to try it out with my daughter. As a music lover, and supporter of independent artists, I recognize that this is yet another avenue that discourages consumers from purchasing music, which is what puts more of a reward in artists’ hands.

Hopefully over time the industry will shift and artists will start to earn more. A recent Newsweek article polled indie artists on their thoughts about streaming music and a few artists asserted that exposure through streaming services are attracting more attendance at live shows. Since the kids music genre is somewhat of a niche it’s hard to say if that same logic applies, but exclusive offers through digital outlets and featured kids music sections could sway things toward greater success.

Chris Ballew of Caspar Babypants (and lead singer of The Presidents of the United States of America) is the featured artist in Rhapsody KIDS’ promotional video. Caspar Babypants is featured in promotional ads as well, alongside Kidz Bop and Disney. 

The main Rhapsody app is a subscription-based model which means access to music is available for a set monthly price. Rhapsody is offering a special subscription rate bundle with Rhapsody KIDS for $1/month for 3 months and then the pricing goes up to $9.99/month.

Below are some of the highlights that Rhapsody KIDS offers. We will

  • Create-your-own: Parents can select songs from the main Rhapsody app and add them to a playlist in the KIDS section.
  • Featured editor curated songs and playlists.
  • Offline Access – Save your data plan! Anything that’s bookmarked for kids automatically downloads for offline listening. Think dead spot on a local road, camping, or a dressing room in the mall.
  • Repetition is key – Songs and playlists in Rhapsody KIDS automatically loop so you’re kids can hear their favorites til the cows come home.
  • Keep it separate – The KIDS section is designed to fool the young’uns from getting back into the main Rhapsody catalog and revamping your playlists or cranking out some jams to a song you wouldn’t even want to play in public. Rhapsody requires users who want to return to the main app to swipe the screen in a specific direction.

Just like Netflix Kids, though, Rhapsody KIDS seems to appeal to a broad range of ages so there will be a mix of styles together, i.e. Kidz Bop with Caspar Babypants, for example. So not all of it will necessarily be tolerable but unlike YouTube or Netflix, you won’t have to moderate for tween-age drama and dialogue.

Our family still listens to our fair share of CDs, with streaming music a popular second and the radio third (50-50 between satellite and terrestrial). We are dedicated Netflix Kids users which has become a well worn resource and I plan on giving Rhapsody KIDS a whirl to see if it has the same effect.  I will be reporting my thoughts back in a Kids Can Groove future post so stay tuned.