“Everyone has oceans to fly, if they have the heart to do it. Is it reckless? Maybe. But what do dreams know of boundaries?” — Amelia Earhart
Having a daughter who is bright, strong-willed (read: confident), and fearless has taught me so much. She is small but curious and constantly seeks answers to greater things. One of the many questions that frequently perplexes her is why there are more boys doing things than girls. Some of those things include plumbing, construction, being president, space exploration, even ninjas. And, don’t even get her started on why boys don’t take the girl’s name when they get married or why every classic princess story ends with the princess marrying the prince (or, as she would say, “yeah yeah then they get married, blah blah blah”). I wish I could say that I had a part in provoking this charge in her, other than a result of a crazy combo of genetics, but I don’t. She is a thinker and a seeker and I love that about her. At 5-years-old anything is possible whether you are a boy and especially if you are a girl! As I listen to her questions, sometimes in awe, I try to answer as best I can to the tune of empowering her to follow her passions and to be the one that makes a change.
So this all ties into the fact that it’s Women of Aviation Worldwide week! First, I must say that I am a fan of the site A Mighty Girl. In summary, “The site was founded on the belief that all children should have the opportunity to read books, play with toys, listen to music, and watch movies that offer positive messages about girls and honor their diverse capabilities.” They posted the Amelia Earhart quote, featured at the beginning of this post, on their Facebook page which subsequently inspired my thoughts above.
Secondly, there’s always room to celebrate with a song! “8000 Feet” by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band was inspired by Amelia Earhart. I present it to you in honor of The First Lady of Flight and all the other mighty girls who are seeking out their dreams, whether it is actually flying 8000 feet in the sky or ambitiously seeking out greater things on the ground. It’s awesome!
“8000 Feet” can be heard on LDFJB’s most recent release, Lishy Lou and Lucky Too. You can preview the entire album here which I absolutely suggest. It’s brimming with vibrancy, life and as much wonder about the world as my little mighty mouse has. Lishy Lou and Lucky Too is also available via iTunes.
As you can see from the intro, the show is filled with vibrant color and character (and colorful characters!). Looking at this video, and really any pictorial representation of Lucky Diaz and Alisha Gaddis, the notion that what you wear reflects your personality comes to mind. Although, I would say they radiate a whole spectrum of colors, much like a rainbow. Their spectacular display is visible in their music, stage presence and on-screen.
If you didn’t catch the video for the first single, “Thingamajig” from the upcoming album Lishy Lou and Lucky Too, make sure to check it out. It’s a hoot!
We are loving this video for “Thingamajig” by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band! It’s just about as sweet as the Hershey’s candy bar that once shared its name. The band’s first live-action video is filled with vibrancy and aptly displays the magnetic connection between the husband-wife team, Alisha Gaddis and Lucky Diaz. Both are frequently referred to as the cutest couple in the kindie world, which is true, but they also bring a level of energy and positivity to their music which is infectious. You just can’t have a bad day when you listen to this band!
“Thingamajig,” is from their upcoming album, Lishy Lou and Lucky Too, which is set for release October 1. In conjunction with the release will also be the unveiling of a children’s live-action TV show called “Lishy Lou and Lucky Too.”
Like the video for “Thingamajig,” the show will be filled with brightly colored visuals featuring the characters Lishy Lou and Lucky Too who live together in a magical treehouse and are visited by friends and guests. Each episode follows Lishy, Lucky and their myriad of friends and guests as they solve various problems that come up. They’re a bilingual household (English and Spanish) that is always filled with music and dance, encouraging movement and learning through song.
So get your dancing shoes on and get ready to jump, jive and swing as the music of Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band once again set the stage for the perfect dance party!
It’s heating up here on the West Coast and we’ve been spending alot of time in the car searching for cooler places. As such, we have been racking up a list of some summer songs that take our minds to a better place and off the scorching introduction to summer.
Below is a Spotify playlist of just some of our favorites. It includes old and new tunes we hope you’ll enjoy.
When I look through childhood photos and see my grandmother, I recall her singing to me in her own language. While I didn’t understand the words at first, repetition and the rich, steady rhythm of her voice compelled me to sing along. Naturally, my mother also sang those songs, sometimes accompanied by the piano as my sister and I gathered around her. This passage of song and tradition is something that still exists in my family today and is always revived when we get together. As I watch my own daughter take my place as the babe in my grandmother’s/mother’s arms, I recall those days fondly and am grateful to be able to share a piece of our history with her.
This is the feeling I get from listening to ¡Fantastico!, the first Spanish-language album by Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band. On a recent trip to visit family in Texas, Diaz reconnected with his Mexican heritage and was inspired by the experience of sharing it with his daughter, Ella. “Tres Ratones,” initially featured on last year’s highly acclaimed A Potluck, and included on ¡Fantastico!, was the first all Spanish track to come out of that trip.
¡Fantastico! also features one new song by Diaz. “La Vibora,” a quick paced dance tune, is a traditional Latin song which was sung to Diaz by his grandmother and mother when he was a child. The rest of the songs have been reworked and could easily be considered original. For example, “ABC is the Place To Be” appears as “Los Numeros.” Curious about the translation process and the making of this record, I had a chance to speak with Diaz who explained, “We worked with a producer in Texas, named Noe Benitez. He really helped tighten the translation part up as well. We wanted the Latino community to feel the songs’ authenticity but also wanted non-Spanish speakers to enjoy them and feel they could sing along.” As a fan of Diaz’s existing work, I can completely concur that this album is one your family will enjoy regardless of your mother tongue.
While many of the songs aren’t direct translations, we particularly enjoy listening to the English and Spanish versions together. Hearing the English words and understanding the story within the song gives us an idea of what the words mean in the Spanish versions. It’s an educational process that I love engaging in with my daughter even though she is able to follow along with the Spanish words just fine on her own. In fact, she prefers the Spanish versions at times, excited by the fact that she is learning and speaking a new language.
Although we have many favorites, “Tres Ratones” was and continues to be the reigning champion. It’s a fun song about a hungry cat and three mice. The song’s catchy chorus naturally encourages participation as the cat says “meow meow meow.” Other songs we dig are the surf rock beats of “Gato Astronata,” the retro-pop sweetness of Alisha Gaddis’s “uh oh’s” in “A Bailar” and the humorous banter between Diaz and his daughter in “¿Qué dices?” The latter, like its English counterpart, includes some fine scat singing by Diaz which is something my daughter loves to imitate. Randomly hearing “zom bom bom bom ba doba daba doombop boombada do bop” followed by “qué dices” from the mouth of a 4 year old is awesome!
¡Fantastico! is a colorful album steeped in tradition and a perfect reintroduction to the sweet sounds of Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band. Moving from last year’s communal supper to an all out gran fiesta, Diaz and the crew succeed again in delivering hip, danceable tracks that are filled with undeniable charm and infectious pop melodies.
You can listen to and purchase ¡Fantastico! via the Bandcamp widget below, as well as Amazon and iTunes.
Turn up the holiday cheer with these 10 holiday and seasonal songs. Whether you are going on a trip or bringing the fun into your own home you will definitely find cheer among this timely list of tunes!
This, my friends, is the right list for the job.
Credits include the following (provided by SoundCloud)
Great new video from Aaron Nigel Smith‘s recent release Welcome to the Village, featuring the children of One World Chorus and some enthusiastic puppets who each land a role as an animal in the song. Listeners will be entertained as they hear Laurie Berkner, Lucky Diaz and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo rock out with Aaron and the rest of the children, er I mean animals, to a rendition of Dylan’s “Man Gave Names to all the Animals.”
“Welcome, we wish you peace. Welcome to the village, share a song with me.” Those few words speak volumes on Aaron Nigel Smith‘s latest release with One World Chorus, Welcome to the Village, where over 300 children sing renditions of songs from greats like Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, The Beatles, Jewel and Louis Armstrong. Incorporating an eclectic mix of reggae, classical, world and american folk music, among others, Welcome to the Village welcomes families into a cultural celebration of love and gratitude for the things we have and the people around us.
Welcome to the Village is Aaron’s first release with the children of One World Chorus, a non-profit organization committed to using music as a mechanism to “build bridges” for children, both in the United States and abroad. Aaron and his wife, Diedre, co-founded the chorus in 2009. Over the course of the last couple of years, Aaron spent time traveling around the U.S. between Portland, Oregon, Los Angeles, New York City and all the way to Nairobi, Kenya where 30 kids from the Cura Orphanage participated in the recording of this album. The Cura Orphanage is a special place that offers residency for children who have lost their parents to AIDS. Proceeds from the sale of Welcome to the Village will be donated to the orphanage in hopes of building sustainable music and programming.
Aaron carries an extensive background in music and movement, which began while he studied and performed with The American Boychoir School at age 11. Seeking out his passion and love for music, Aaron along with his wife Deidre, founded FUNdamentals of Music and Movement in 2002. FUNdamentals of Music and Movement serves as a music program for over 100 early education centers nationwide.
As much as it is quite evident that Aaron is a talented musician and songwriter, he has also done an excellent job of selecting songs for Welcome to theVillage. On a couple of the songs, Aaron brought in fellow friends and highly acclaimed kindie artists for some sweet collaborations. Starting with a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Man Gave Names,” Laurie Berkner, Lucky Diaz and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, each join in as an animal while adding a touch of their personality to the mix. There’s even perhaps a subtle reference to Blue Bear as Lucky sings “…great big furry back with blue hair.” But the real showstopper is when Skidoo jumps in with a quick lyrical jaunt about a Platypus which blew our minds! This strange creature has been of particular interest to my daughter lately. Prior to hearing this song, and in just a few seconds, Skidoo schooled us with way more eloquence than I could have managed. It’s an exciting and well-thought out rendition of this classic, oft covered song.
“Grateful,” one of the originals on the album, features Dan Zanes. The song will warm your heart with Zanes’ Dylan-esque vocals encouraging us to give our “friends a big hug for all that they provide.” It’s oozing with sincerity and appreciation for the people around us, the beauty of the planet we live on and the air we breathe. The song is a prime example of Aaron’s talent to write and compose a deeply meaningful, authentic song.
But the true authenticity in Welcome to the Village is of course, the voices of the children, including Aaron’s duo with his son Zion on the Beatles’ cover of “Mother Nature’s Son.” In fact, it was Zion’s idea to sing the song and include it on the album. There are also traditional African songs which include rhythmic, multi-layered percussion, signature to the sounds of that culture. It’s actually these songs that my 3-year-old likes the best. Starting with “Fanga Alafia,” Em’s absolute favorite and one that she sings on her own even after the album is over. And, when I don’t sing the correct pronunciation (in her opinion) she is quick to correct me. There is also “Che Che Cole,” a fun call and response song to which Em immediately participates as if she’s part of the chorus, while Aaron calls out and the children respond masterfully. The album ends with a traditional choir song called “Siyahamba” which can be translated into a song about unity and peace.
Other notable songs include a slowed down, Dub style rendition of Jewel’s “Hands,” which features the kids from the orphanage. The song fits in nicely with the sentiment behind Welcome to the Village as it was meant to provide hope in the face of misfortune. The song is led by a female soloist whose voice is similar in pitch and tone to Jewel’s. The hauntingly beautiful rendition brings me chills as I hear the innocence and emotion of the children’s voices. There is also the educational “In A Book,” an educational reggae song written by Aaron, featuring his son Zion, as a soloist, along with the kids from the chorus spelling out words. For example: Aaron: “It’s in a book .” Chorus: “That’s right, a b-o-o-k.” Even if your little one can’t quite spell yet, he or she is given the opportunity to learn while singing along with these simple lyrics.
My personal favorite happens to be “Sound the Trumpet” which features Aaron (and a male vocalist from the chorus) flexing his operatic muscles on this short, classic piece. I pretty much just love to roll my r’s along with the guys and pretend I actually am an opera singer.
Welcome to the Village is a true reflection, regardless of age, who, what or where you are, you can experience and participate in the joy of music. Not to mention children love to hear other children sing and Aaron is no stranger to making quality music for families. In addition to being a father of two sons, who both appear on this album (as soloists and part of the chorus), he has received various parenting awards for his first two releases Let’s Pretend and Everyone Loves to Dance. He has also appeared on the PBS Kids Emmy Award winning show Between the Lions and is featured on several new Music for Little People releases, including Buckwheat Zydeco’s Bayou Boogie, and World Travels.
Music is fulfilling, brings people together and is meant to be shared. This is exactly what Aaron and the children of One World Chorus bring with the release of Welcome to the Village. In Aaron’s words, “When kids sing together, I hope that they enjoy sharing the gift of music and learning a valuable discipline that can be used to promote positive change in the world. It’s great to see the light in kids’ eyes as they realize just how many other kids are participating in the project.”
On this album, it literally took a village and then some, to create this special treasure. So kick off your shoes and stay a while; you won’t be disappointed. Ages 2 – 5 will enjoy learning, singing along and participating in the album.
See below for videos related to the making of Welcome to the Village. You can learn more about and support One World Chorus here, as well as, the Cura Orphanage Home here.
Digital samples and downloads can be found on Amazon. The album is also available for download and purchase on iTunes.
If you just take a look at the deliciously colorful album cover of Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band’s latest release, “A Potluck,” you will get a sense of how the album feels. It’s bright, bold and filled with tons of charm.
Los Angeles-based Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band is led by the recently married Lucky Diaz and Alisha Gaddis. “A Potluck” is their second full-length release which brings us a diverse listening experience made up of many different musical styles aiming to bring fun and delight to children (and grown-ups alike!). Throughout the album, you can feel the pleasure Diaz and his bandmates derive from making good kids music. Each song is like a sweet piece of optimistic pie.
Right off the bat, the first 3 songs open the album with true (k)indie-pop flare. Starting with their first single, the electro-pop appetizer “Lines and Dots,” followed by “On My Bike,” which actually includes the sound effect of a bike bell (true bike awesomeness), and “Lemonade Stand” are all hand-clapping, upbeat numbers that are sure to get your body moving.
My favorite song on the album is the fiesta filled “Monkey Jones” which includes a solid beat and lots of horns that take you to the Caribbean, dancing barefoot on the beach. Even better is the fact that “Day-O” (The Banana Boat Song) can be heard echoing in the background as the song ends.
Kids will also enjoy crowing like a rooster in the swing-a-delic Lil’ Red Rooster and the “meow meow meow” chorus of “Tres Ratones,” which was inspired by Lucky’s Mexican heritage. Although the song is in Spanish, E has already learned the words and exclaims “Oh, this is my song!” every time she hears it.
The album wraps up with another poem called “Night” which brings us to the start of the Potluck where people are gathering together for the delicious feast while reminding us that “…we’re all so different but connected every one. We each bring something special to the table and that’s what makes it so much fun.” I love how both “Morning” and “Night” act as a prologue and epilogue, tying the album together while making clever references to either a character or message within a song.
I can’t express enough love for Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band. Their enthusiasm is infectious and “A Potluck” is sure to be a delicious summer treat!
Listen to samples and/or buy/download their album from Amazon here or iTunes here.
Read an interview with Lucky and Alisha (courtesy of Dadnabbit) here.