Friends and random acquaintances routinely ask me, “Why do you listen to kids’ music?” I’ve asked myself the same question many times.
In poking through my Top 20 albums of 2015, an answer snuck up on me: the joy of music discovery. To be presented with and to explore new music is exhilarating – like discovering a whole new color or flavor. Sharing this passion with my daughter Emily (now 7 years old) is great fun and such a bonding experience. She is growing, and the music is growing with her.
For me, music discovery is more than just the songs at face value. It’s uncovering the stories behind the music; it’s connecting with the music makers and understanding the magical, teeny bits of real life, of real people that make the album art come alive. The artists that make up the kids’ music genre are welcoming and supportive and it’s been a pleasure to dive into what drives their creativity and thus, bring their stories to life.
Let’s take one last look at a list of the illuminating (and just plain fun) Kids Can Groove artist features of 2015. It really was another stellar year in kids’ music.
The Blue Bike Chronicles – Karen Kalafatas (of Karen K & the Jitterbugs) debuts her new solo effort. “Like books, music helps us gain a sense of self and offers us space to feel. Through this new creative venture, Kalafatas reveals herself as both a musician and an author, seeking connection by sharing her beautiful story with both her daughter, and girls her daughter’s age, to create long lasting memories.”
Exploring Album Art – with Edie Carey & Sarah Sample
“When Sarah showed me Caitlin’s incredible work, I was immediately taken with it, and it just felt like the perfect image for the soothing, healing, intimate feeling of the record. The mother’s fractured dress spoke to me as it did Sarah of all the difficulty of breaking down the “you” you once were to remake yourself into a mother.”
Warren Brown and Adam Goddard (Creators of Big Block Singsong) – “At one point Warren used the words “electric pink” and I thought “Ok, it’s done! ‘Electric pink’ is so cool it has to be in the lyrics.” An electric pink tutu had to be in there.”
CJ Pizarro (Mista Cookie Jar) – “Songs can have great personal importance –I try to render these ideas understandable to the public. Whatever value or energy a song has, I try to make it palpable for the listener. I stop when I think the magic is most potent.”
Dan Elliott (Pointed Man Band) – “I believe it’s important to also have music that engages not just the children but also the different generations that help to raise the children we love.”
Alison Faith Levy – “I have always wanted to make a children’s album that reflects the kind of music I loved as a child – really well-written pop songs, with great arrangements and production, that came from an honest, emotional place. Not necessarily kids’ music, but fully-realized music that crosses the generations. That was my goal with this album – to write great songs from an honest place that expressed my truth, and spoke to kids on their level, too.”
Bob McGrath from Sesame Street – You can’t help but be influenced by all of the wonderful research and good messages shown on Sesame Street. Each segment focuses on every phase of a child’s growth, and that has been a big influence on me as a father of 5, and grandfather of 8. When my kids were young it was certainly a challenging learning curve to be a father, as it is for many dads. Understanding how the scripts were written helped me learn how to become more attentive and sensitive to the way a child thinks, and for their potential to learn and grow. I learned how important it is to listen, really listen, carefully to what your children have to say. When my kids were young that meant getting down on the floor to to their level, eyeball to eyeball…”
Amelia Robinson (Mil’s Trills) – “Most hurt and pain that culminates in violence or mistreatment stems from people not having the confidence or support that they needed as a child. It all starts with the children and giving them the love that they need to succeed in life.”
Justin Roberts on Creativity, scoring a Hansel & Gretel musical and his residency at the New Victory Theater – “This is really about America and not necessarily just a story about some girl with bugs in her hair.”
Jeff Krebs (Papa Crow) – You have to be on your toes because kids are very sensitive and honest. They want to be more engaged than entertained or simply sung to.
Ralph Covert (Ralph’s World) – “Without signposts and clues to meaning, the brain shuts down. With help along the way, the brain can do amazing things as it learns to organize and acquire language.”
Matt Baron (Future Hits) – “In general, I think people consider learning through music as a fun way to learn, and often frivolous. I don’t want to look at what I’m doing with my students always as fun exercises. I think it’s inherently fun because it’s getting the kids to think by using songs as a springboard for a lesson, but the meatiness of the corresponding lessons really challenge and ignite the kids’ thinking.”
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