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

unnamed (1)

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

CoverHello

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.

Playlist and Videos: Feliz Cinco de Mayo 2015

cinco_de_mayo_icon_55483 843cdb741d98870e8ecde50f1d1abd34

This week is full of reasons to celebrate! I’ll be posting things throughout the week in honor of these days, but for today we’ll start with Cinco de Mayo.

Since My daughter started Kindergarten, I have met many families who are working on incorporating more bilingual music and entertainment into their children’s lives. The most common statement I hear is that there is very little selection out there. It’s during these times that I think about how lucky I am to know so many wonderful children’s artists who are making rich, educational and entertaining music for this reason. It would be remiss of me NOT to share some knowledge with them.

As I was listening back to today’s playlist, I kept thinking about how I could listen to these songs any day of the year. There is so much joy, beauty and thought put into these songs. They rock! Every single artist on this list has a unique way of presenting their work, and whether you speak the language or not, you will want to sing along. Though most of the titles below are in Spanish, many the songs themselves contain English and Spanish lyrics, blended seamlessly so that the English translation either immediately precedes or follows the Spanish translation.

As a bonus, I’ve included a new single by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, an awesome video by Nathalia and a sweet, whimsical video by ¡Uno, Dos, Tres con Andrés!.

It’s a whole musical fiesta up in here today and I encourage you to check everyone out. Clicking on the song names will take you to iTunes where you can sample and download them.

Piñata Attack – Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band [Single]
Nuestra Fiesta – ¡Uno, Dos, Tres con Andrés! [en Español y en inglés]
What Time Is It? – Moona Luna [Vamos, Let’s Go!]
Veo VeoMariana Iranzi [Hola Hello]
Una Concha En La MesaFuture Hits [Today is Forever / Hoy es para siempre]
RatonesMister G [ABC Fiesta]
El Cucuy (feat. Ruben Ramos)Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band [Aquí, Allá]
Arte Perdido – Future Hits [Today is Forever / Hoy es para siempre]
Kidz Rock (feat. Mista Cookie Jar) Twinkle Time [Single]
El Tren – Mariana Iranzi [Hola Hello]
La Pequeña Araña – Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band [Aquí, Allá]
Magical Nathalia [Dream A Little / Sueña un Poquito]
Frota Tu Panza – Mister G [ABC Fiesta]
Ave De Nylon – Future Hits [Today is Forever / Hoy es para siempre]
Tú Eres Mi Amor – Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band [Aquí, Allá]


For more bilingual children’s programming check out the following links:

Mariana Iranzi – Video: Los Pollitos
¡Uno, Dos, Tres con Andrés! – Videos: If I Was A Mariachi and La Clave + La Clave Tutorial
Mister G – Video: Everything’s Free at the Library and Bossy “E”
Twinkle Time – Video: Kidz Rock (fest. Mista Cookie Jar)
Lucky Diaz – ¡Fantastico! Album Review

Listen to this: A little bit o’ sweetness with “You Are Loved” by Hullabaloo + FREE DOWNLOAD

logo-2

Sometimes it’s the way a song is sung, sometimes it’s the words, sometimes it’s the simplicity and beauty in the message. In this case, it is all three.

“You Are Loved” by Hullabaloo

Bonus: Get a FREE DOWNLOAD through the Bandcamp widget below.

View This: “Spring Day” – Karen K & the Jitterbugs


Karen_K_and_Love_Bug_2_Web

Though it was a disturbing (putting it mildly) winter for many, Karen K & the Jitterbugs​ reminds us that fun is what you make it, and in Karen‘s world there is plenty of sunshine.

In the visual companion to her previously released single, the video for “Spring Day” celebrates spring, sounds like spring and by golly feels like spring when you crank it up and dance around. Someone pass me a Tulip!

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

unnamed (1)

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.