Grammy-nominated Kids' Music
2019 Grammy-nominated artists for children's music.
Nobody creates music for kids seeking big bucks and accolades. Family music’s tiny genre is mostly an afterthought for festivals, venues and awards. Kindie artists must grab the good stuff when it shows up.
Kindie pioneer Cathy Fink initially drove the Grammy conversation toward independent creations and away from TV/ movie tie-ins. We see the results of those efforts in the 2019 Grammy nominees for Best Music for Children.
These albums use great music to perform good works. From the empowering rhythms of Alphabet Rockers’ brilliant The Love to the effervescent joy of Caspar Babypants’ Riding High, all five albums reflect the Grammy Awards’ role in encouraging music’s cream to rise to the top. I have featured several of these albums in 2019 columns.
I Love Rainy Days, Daniel Tashien
Daniel Tashian is a Grammy-winning multi-hyphenate who brings to kids’ music the same skill he brought to producing Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour. His voice joins kids on the sweet, infectious title song that carries you through this collection, which maintains its warm, friendly approach throughout. Originality is the key to the charming alphabet song “The Letters.” “Walk Tall” is great advice with a delightful instrumental backup. “Little Star” seems like a simple song. It is not. These well-produced songs have the kind of deceptively simple sound that could only be created by a talented producer.
Flying High!, Caspar Babypants
My “it’s about time” award goes to the nomination for prolific singer/songwriter Caspar Babypants (aka Christopher Ballew from The Presidents of the United States). He is the creative force behind 13 wonderful albums for young kids and their parents that have consistently brightened the kindie scene for years. Riding High! is typical Babypants: short, clever, catchy songs delivered in a personable style. His “Call the Crooked Crows” is my favorite song of 2019. He takes a Dylanesque approach to English infrastructure in a London Bridge song. These are clever tunes.
Songs for the Child Archetype, Jon Samson (2020 Grammy Winner)
Jon Samson uses music to express the confusion, fear and “Anxiety” that mark childhood. Feelings that are out of reach or bottled up find a safe space in songs like “Predicament” and “Love Is Not a Race.” Music therapist Samson has created a tool for professionals as well as an empowering experience for families.
Winterland, The Okee Dokee Brothers
This duo of lifelong friends may win their second Grammy by celebrating cold-weather wonders. Packaging their message within an old-timey sound, they brilliantly celebrate gender diversity with “Snow People.” “Keep Me Warm” is a danceable love song. The Okee Dokee Brothers have hit upon a successful mix of vocal purity and catchy lyrics.
The Love, Alphabet Rockers
This collection of hip-hop righteousness is one of the most important albums for families ever created. West Coast duo Alphabet Rockers brought together a group of kids and adults who look and sound like America. The songs and statements speak from the heart on taking power over society’s wrongs to build a better future.
Kathy O’Connell is a contributing writer to MetroKids and host of the Peabody award- winning Kids Corner, on air Monday- Thursday from 7-8pm on WXPN 88.5 FM.