Archive for November, 2010

We Are Witnessing History



Re-printed from NAPPA

Every decade or so, a new genre pushes its way to the surface of musical history – the punk explosion in the ‘70s, new wave in the ‘80s, grunge in the ‘90s. Today, we are seeing the rapid proliferation of a new genre: family music.

Formerly known as “children’s music,” family music is the fastest growing (and selling) genre of music in the world. Thinking back to the ’80s and the early days of kid-centric music, we remember Raffi, Peter Yarrow and the occasional compilation album, such as Marlo Thomas’ Free to Be You and Me. As the “love children” of the ’60s (who had grown up on The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix) became parents, they needed something more … and some of them picked up their guitars, plucked a few keys and started writing songs. Today, we see thousands of albums released annually by everyone from former rock stars to punk rock moms.

New Genre of Family Music

This new genre of family music has a wide variety of sounds and influences (everything from rap to country, indie rock to jazz), but shares some essential ingredients: parental love, creative passion, positive messages, humor, fun, and sophisticated music. Family music speaks to children as full members of society without patronizing. When accomplished musicians create music for families, they deliver an album that’s easy on your ears as your child asks to play it over and over – and to which you’ll sing along, too. These 2009 NAPPA-winning artists make music with a message for all your family members: what is communicated to adults is just as important as what the kids get out of it. Whether the songs are about using your imagination (My Trampoline by Peter Himmelman) or are eco-conscious (Aventura Collage by Mariana Iranzi), the commonalities are clear. Whether you’re looking for music that crosses generations and makes you get up and dance (Soulville from Little Monster Records) or lulls you to sleep (Songs from the Garden of Eden by Secret Mountain), the music’s positive messages and lessons about life make these winning titles rise to the top of their genre.

Children crave positive reinforcement and inspiring messages, such as treating others with kindness and respect. They respond enthusiastically when encouragement is delivered in a medium that is also fun to sing and dance to. If we give kids something to think about, their minds absorb it. If we treat them with respect, their hearts listen. If we make it enjoyable, they remember the lessons therein.

By providing children with rich and diverse entertainment that feeds their minds, we challenge and inspire them. This is the goal of our NAPPA-winning artists, who have achieved this goal through uplifting fun activities, playful lyrics and original music. Who could ask for more?


Leave a comment »


John Wood

John Wood

By: John Wood
Re-printed from NAPPA

Imagine there’s no music. It’s easy if you try. No drums or synths or sitars or songs that make you cry. Imagine all the people living life so plain…
As an early cave couple sat in their split-level cave, let’s call them Bob and Estelle, Bob wandered aimlessly to what someday would be the front door to watch the rain and listen to the thunder god Moog shake the sky with loud and scary thunder claps of anger. Lightning lit up the sky and that was really scary because Estelle’s cousin Dewey was fried a few moons ago while hiding near a tree. Bob never liked Dewey, but I digress. Bob exhaled a big sigh of boredom and inexplicably a sound came from his lips that sounded like the whistle of a bird. He did it again. And again. He clapped his hands together trying to catch the invisible bird. Estelle came from the kitchen to see what was going on. Bob’s clapping and whistling had a nice cadence to it and Estelle started tapping her foot in rhythm – who knew Estelle had rhythm? – but wait, there’s more! Estelle picked up two animal bones and started beating them on their rocker (made from rocks) and she laid down a serious groove, like early Santana, circa Woodstock.

FLASH FORWARD SIX MONTHS. Estelle started an all girl group called the Boogles but had to drop out for an hour when she had her baby, Bobo. Bob was still looking for the bird but had developed a talent for drawing on his cave wall that was the rage of the neighborhood and he would sing about the stories he would paint in a style that now would be called reggae. His friend, Larry, would tickle the ivories behind him until the mammoth woke up and then it was every man for himself. Estelle found that if she sang some of Bob’s songs to baby Bobo he would fall asleep faster – there would be a gentle lull and then Bobo went bye-bye hence… oh, never mind. All the cave dwellers would get together and sing and dance and make music on some crazy looking instruments like they have in Albania. All the cave people that is, except the ones in the last cave on the left. The people of the caves were happier when they sang. They realized that music was all around them if they just listened. One of the best listeners was Dorothy Com from far away Silly Con Valley. Dot listened to the animals, listened to the waves and the wind rustling through the trees and was generally one with the Earth, like Raffi. This is a true story; I saw Bob’s drawings that were discovered in their cave in France!

The world is a better place because of music and NAPPA was fortunate to have some of the best music by some of the best musicians in the world this year. Thanks Bob and Estelle! And thanks to Honors winner Jon Samson’s song “Everything is Music To Me” from Another Kid’s Album for the inspiration for this tall tale.

Leave a comment »

We Always Remember What We Hear as Kids

John Wood Here's Johnny!

John Wood Here’s Johnny!

By: John Wood

Children’s artists have an intrinsic love to entertain, educate and nurture their audience, still seek their niche in the entertainment pantheon and, somehow, find new ways to record “Wheels on the Bus”!

Since the age “head room” is getting lower and lower for what is considered children’s music for Baby Boomer’s kids, what are GenX and GenY’s kids listening to? It started me thinking about what kinds of music children are surrounded by these days – at home, in school, on the radio and TV.

The first thing many parents expose their children to are lullabies; whatever their babies find soothing and familiar enough to lull them to sleep. Among the NAPPA winners, you’ll find a variety of musical styles and ethnicities to be appreciated. Whether in your native tongue or not, many of these songs provide opportunities to introduce little ears to a wide range of beautiful sounds and rhythms– vocal as well as instrumental.

Next, many parents think back to what they listened to as children and now look forward to sharing with their offspring. When I was growing up, we listened to artists like Burl Ives, Danny Kaye and Patti Page who sang for an adult audience, with crossover songs for children. Singers like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie kept alive the American folksong traditions. What about you?

What I realize is that what we listen to as children, stays inside us all our lives. It seeps into our very being. As Garrison Keillor quipped, he can’t remember where he left his car keys but he can remember a poem he had to learn in grammar school. That makes us think about what we would like our children to listen to now that will become an inseparable part of them.

What kind of music does your child like? All of our NAPPA winners have had to pass the same criteria that albums do for the Grammy awards. Is this children’s music? Does it appeal to children? Does it talk about issues that children can relate to? Is the quality of the performance good and does it stay consistently good throughout the recording? Is the production quality professional? Is the song selection strong and related to the theme of the album? Does the album do anything special that sets it apart from others; does it have spark?

For kids who like rock music, there are plenty of NAPPA-winning artists who can rock with the best of them. Take, for example, Here Comes Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could (NAPPA 08); Justin Roberts’ Pop Fly (NAPPA 2008), and The Boogers Road to Rock (NAPPA 2009).

Do your kids like listening to something that’s funny? Both parents and kids love They Might Be Giants’ funny and clever way of doing the alphabet in Here Come the ABCs (NAPPA 2005). Known for his songs and storytelling, Bill Harley’s Yes to Running (NAPPA 2008) and I Wanna Play (NAPPA 2007) are as hilarious to kids as they are to parents and grandparents. The songs and patter among the artists in Trout Fishing in America’s Big Round World (NAPPA 2008) is contagiously funny. In Baby Banana (NAPPA 2009), Debi Derryberry’s set-ups to her songs are funny, especially in Freckled Faced Freddie” and “Scoops of Ice Cream.”

Do your children like to move and groove? Don’t miss cELLAbration! A Tribute to Ella Jenkins (NAPPA 2006), which features many of her most loved songs performed by a potpourri of popular children’s artists. Both Jessica Harper’s Inside Out (NAPPA 2002) and The Laurie Berkner Band’s Rocketship Run (NAPPA 2009) have great participation songs on their albums, as do most children’s artists.

After listening around to a bunch of different artists with your children, create your own playlists and CDs – download your favorite tracks from a variety of musicians and musical heritages. Those will be the songs, and family times, your children will always remember.

Leave a comment »