Music is a great gift. It doesn't clutter the house. It doesn't (usually) break. And it's something kids can dance to or relax to.
While we listen to all kinds of music at my house - from popular music to the 80s music of my youth to classical and more - my kids also are fans of an array of clever and talented singers and songwriters, who aim for family audiences. (I will admit, though, that my 10-year-old is squarely in the popular music fan category these days).
This fall, I received a great selection of CDs, which my kids, especially my six-year-old, have enjoyed. The songs can be silly and sappy, sweet and serious, but they all have one thing in common: They come with clever lyrics, sophisticated music and talented musicians.
Let's face it: A good song about love will have all of the qualities of a good song, regardless of whether the subjects are romantic or a parent and child pair.
Some new favorites:
"Simpatico" by Renee & Friends: Singer-songwriter Renee Stahl (of Renee & Jeremy fame) brings together stars such as Lisa Loeb, Maya Rudolph, Molly Shannon, Glen Phillips (of Toad the Wet Sprocket), Chris Ballew (of Presidents of the USA, Casper Babypants) and more for a gorgeous album that's all about sweet, tender moments. "Gather Round," which features Loeb, is all about gathering around the family table. "You and Me" is a delicate, honest song about love - in my mind, the love of a parent for a child. "I wrote this song with you in mind," she sings. "I play it wrong, sometimes." Yep ... most parents can identify with that after a particularly trying morning. It's a perfect collection of songs for dancing with your infant baby to dancing with your wiggly kindergartner.
Here's "Gather Round:"
"Home" by Tim Kubart: The album was recently nominated for a Grammy Award for best children's album. Kubart might be best known for his turns on Sprout Channel's "Sunny Side Up Show and "America's Got Talent." "Home" is Kubart's second family album and features the likes of children's music superstar Laurie Berkner. This one you can dance to. The album offers upbeat songs like the dance-pop "Breakfast Club," which is all about breakfast. I love "Sunday Crafternoon," all about an afternoon of crafting. "Biggest Brother" will get you teary if your little one is about to become a big sibling. "I'll be there when you start to walk. I'll be there when you learn to talk," Kubart sings. "You know you can count on me. Because now we're family."
Here's "Breakfast Club:"
"Smiles Ahead:" This compilation album is perfect for families new to the kindie rock world (that's independent music for kids). It's a great introduction to many talented artists out there. This one gathers many of the more popular family artists, including the Grammy Award-winning Okee Dokee Brothers, Caspar Babypants, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Frances England and more. Also on the album: Raleigh mom and amazingly talented singer/songwriter Rissi Palmer, who I have written about many times. Her sweet song "Best Day Ever" is track No. 8. The Okee Dokee Brothers' folksy "Walking with Spring," written as the friends hiked the Applachian Trail, is another favorite.
Here they are singing "Walking with Spring:"