2012 NAPPA Awards: Music
Good Morning My Love
Vered Benhorin, VeredMusic, Infants-18 months, $12.99
Why the judges liked it: An enchanting album to share with your newborn. This truly lovely CD comes with gentle lullabies and fun ditties all performed with great warmth and easy-going yet inventive musical arrangements, which will make parents and babies smile.
Great for: Getting the little one ready for bed.
Why it deserves an award: A very original approach to music for babies.
Why parents will like it: These aren’t the typical lullabies that you’ve heard a hundred times.
Did you know: Vered Benhorin is a music therapist with a background in clinical psychology. BUY IT
Songs in the Shade of the Flamboyant Tree: French Creole Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes
The Secret Mountain (Chantal Grosleziat, Paul Mindy and aurent Corvaisier), infants-age 2, $16.95
Why the judges liked it: This colorful picture book/CD contains 30 French Creole lullabies and nursery rhymes.
Great for: Taking an exotic trip through poems and songs.
Why it deserves an award: This book/CD combo offers an entertaining and enlightening glimpse into the little-known cultures of the French Creole people, who live in locales in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean.
Why parents will like it: Because they can share in this learning experience, with their children, on the French Creole people.
Fun Fact: The book smartly contains translations of the songs as well as song explanations and vocabulary words. BUY IT
Middle of Nowhere
Elska, Winter Bear Records, infants-age 8, $14.98
Why the judges liked it: An impressive debut disc filled with warmly charming musical story that is set in Iceland.
Great for:: Chilling out to some charming music.
Why it deserves an award: Not only is this music, created by singer/actress Shelley Wollert and producer Allen Farmelo, cute, clever and full of personality but the two have created a fun, little world where the character Elska lives.
Why parents will like it: The spare but infectious melodies are difficult to resist.
Yes, it’s true: Elska means “to love” in Icelandic. BUY IT
Songs from the Sandbox
Stephen Michael Schwartz, S-TEAM PRODUCTIONS, infants-age8, $12.98
Why the judges liked it: The first solo album from the Parachute Express veteran.
Great for: fans of the Schwartz’s band The Parachute Express and Jay Jay The Jet Plane (he wrote most of that show’s tunes).
Why it deserves an award: Schwartz stocks this album with songs that sweet and clever.
Why parents will like it: because Schwartz brings a nice Tin Pan Alley panache to his music.
Did you know: When he was in Parachute Express, Schwartz performed in the White House on several occasions. BUY IT
Putumayo Kids Presents: Instrumental Dreamland
Putumayo World Music, infants- age 2, $14.98
Why the judges liked it: This disc offers a relaxing musical journey around the world, with songs hailing from Ireland to Brazil, Japan to Mali - and several from the U.S. too.
Great for: Preparing baby for bed and for being a world traveler.
Why it deserves an award: It’s exactly what a lullaby album is supposed to be: peaceful, soothing and restful.
Why parents will like it: The multi-cultural song selection offers a pleasing variety of gentle night music.
Did you know: “Brahm’s Lullaby” was originally called “Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, gute Nacht.” BUY IT
Anna and the Cupcakes
Bari Koral Family Rock Band, ages 1-7, $11.98
Why the judges liked it: The New York-based Koral serves up a real treat of kindie rock delights on this disc. Her music is energetic and engaging whether she’s singing about dragons or butterflies, shoes or rocket ships.
Great for: A sweet listening experience.
Why it deserves an award: Koral simply has a warm and winning way with her music that makes it as hard to resist as cupcakes.
Why parents will like it: When they discover Koral covers the Avett Brothers’ song “Kick Drum Heart.”
If you like: Laurie Berkner BUY IT
The Cat's Pajamas, Howlin' Records, ages 2-8, $14.99
Why the judges liked it: A purr-fectly marvelous album of kids tunes to enjoy at home or in the car. The PA-based group cruises confidently through a variety of styles – from the blues to pop to jazz and rock - on this entertaining musical journey.
Great for: A joy(-filled) ride.
Why it deserves an award: Drawing upon a number of types of music, the band delivers an energetic mix of original and cover tunes.
Why parents will like it: The group’s funky renditions of nursery rhymes will be a welcome relief for parents who have had to listen repeatedly to the familiar versions.
Did you know: This is album number 4 from the Cat’s Pajamas BUY IT
Little Seed: Songs for children by Woody Guthrie
Elizabeth Mitchell, Smithsonian Folkways, ages 2-9, $11.99
Why the judges liked it: Mitchell celebrates Woody Guthrie during his centennial year with this excellent album filled with 13 charming renditions of the American music legend’s children’s songs, like “Who’s My Pretty Baby?” and “Riding In My Car.”
Great for: Family music time.
Why it deserves an award: In her own sublime way, Mitchell taps into Guthrie’s sense of a child’s innocence and a parent’s love.
Why parents will like it: Songs like “Little Sugar,” “Sleep Eye” and the title track are simply lovely expressions of parenthood.
Yes, it’s true: Mitchell and her husband Daniel Littleton also perform in the indie-rock band, Ida. BUY IT
Dancing with Miss Melodee
Melstar Entertainment, ages 3-5, $12.99
Why the judges liked it: Kids will get a real workout on this dance class-themed disc.
Great for: little girls’ dance parties.
Why it deserves an award: Miss Melodee’s music is full of charm and energy.
Why parents will like it: The upbeat, lively music might tire out their children.
Fun fact: Miss Melodee has been teaching kids in the Southern California area for over 10 years. BUY IT
DidiPop, TreeTop Records, ages 3-5, $14.99
Why the judges liked it: The popular Los Angeles performer transforms common activities into catchy tunes.
Great for: Accompanying “everyday adventures,” like feeding a pet and practicing the alphabet.
Why it deserves an award: Pop’s upbeat music radiates with a friendly, fun spirit.
Why parents will like it: Because within this cheery music are messages like “any dream is possible” and the importance of being responsible.
Did you know: Didi Pop has won two John Lennon Songwriter Awards. BUY IT
Houses of the Moly
Rolie Polie Guacamole, ages 3-5, $15
Why the judges liked it: This Brooklyn-based band serves up a tasty serving of upbeat (mostly cover) songs.
Great for: The family to rock and “Rolie Polie” together.
Why it deserves an award: The disc shines with some really inspired renditions of preschool faves like “Fire Truck,” “Mr. Sun” and Tom Paxton’s “Going To The Zoo.”
Why parents will like it: They will get a kick out of the cover of the old Harry Nilsson tune “Coconut.”
Guest list: Kindie favorites Suzi Shelton, Brady Rymer and Okee Dokee Brother Justin Lansing perform on this disc. BUY IT
Just for Fun: Songs for Little Ones
Forest Sun, Painted Sun Records, ages 3-5, $15
Why the judges liked it: This album might be “just for fun,” but it also a terrific set of folksy tunes.
Great for: Fans of Dan Zanes who are looking something new.
Why it deserves an award: “It’s impossible not to smile” is the album’s opening line and also represents how listeners will respond to this thoroughly charming album.
Why parents will like it: Forest Sun’s songs will totally appeal to grown-ups who enjoy rootsy, acoustic music.
It’s a fact: The Bay Area singer-songwriter also released an album for adults in 2012 entitled Just Begun. BUY IT
Raise a Ruckus
Hullabaloo, Hullabaloo Music, ages 3-5, $12
Why the judges liked it: More dang dandy country-flavored kids music from this long-popular San Diego-based duo.
Great for: Li’l bitty hootenannies
Why it deserves an award: The twangy twosome rounds up another herd of catchy kids tunes on their 10th album.
Why parents will like it: Listening to the disc’s closing track, “Song About Nothing,” will be a smile to even a weary parent’s face.
Guest list: Grammy winners Buck Howdy and Marcy Marxer help out on this album. BUY IT
The Colored Pencil Factory
Astrograss, Smoggy Borough Records, ages 4-9, $15
Why the judges liked it: If you like music with a little twang, then Astrograss is the kids band for you. Fiddle and banjo drive their spiritedly-played tunes that might have a square dance sound but are far from square.
Great for: A (no-so) square dance.
Why it deserves an award: This exuberant acoustic music proves to be quite unforgettable.
Why parents will like it: The band’s lively music will appeal to kids and adults, if they aren’t allergic to fiddles and banjos.
Yes, it’s true: The album’s closing track, “Music Makes Me Free,” is based on a poem written by 9-year-old Marcella Fellus Borgenicht. BUY IT
Dog on Fleas, ages 4-10, $13
Why the judges liked it: As their name suggests, the band has a great sense of humor as well as a great sense of melodies.
Great for: When you are in a goofy mood.
Why it deserves an award: Top Dog Dean Jones fills this disc with wonderfully comical tunes, like the rocking fish ode “The Smelt” and “Has Anybody Seen My Shoes?,” along with the Graceland-worthy track “Fortunate Mistake.”
Why parents will like it: Jones writes smart/silly lyrics like “I’m just another finger/but they call me a thumb.”
For fans of: They Might Be Giants and Justin Roberts BUY IT
Ozomatli Presents OzoKidz
ages 4-10, $15
Why the judges liked it: The multi-cultural Los Angeles band makes a triumphant transition into family music on this disc, which is filled with rhythmically-rich songs that inventively mixes together a variety of musical styles.
Great for: A multi-cultural dance party.
Why it deserves an award: This might be the band’s first album for children but they never play down to the kids.
Why parents will like it: The spirited music is also quite sophisticated.
It’s a fact: The politically active band has served as American Cultural Ambassadors as the request of the State Department. BUY IT
Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band, Lucy Diaz Music, ages 6-8, $12.98
Why the judges liked it: This Southern California group shines on their second album with this sunny collection of songs.
Great for: The families who enjoy their rock in a variety of styles.
Why it deserves an award: Diaz and his band joyfully zip through upbeat rockers like “On My Bike” and “Lemonade Stand, go wild on a trio of animal tunes (“Squirrelly the Squirrel,” “Monkey Jones” and “Lil’ Red Rooster”) and even serenade an “Invisible Friend.”
Why parents will like it: For the way the group blends Elvis Presley and Zydeco on “Who Stole The Cookie.”
Did you know: The song “Tres Ratones” is based on a Mexican nursery rhyme that Diaz learned from his grandmother. BUY IT
All About Bullies... Big and Small
Cool Beans Music & East Coast Recording Company, ages 6-8, $15
Why the judges liked it: A terrific and timely collection of songs and short spoken-word pieces dealing with bullying as well as related topics like acceptance of difference, individuality, and friendship. This important album teaches valuable lessons without sounding like a lecture.
Great for: Helping kids through a troubling time (or helping them to avoid one).
Why it deserves an award: The producers smartly assembled this disc so it never gets too preachy and remains consistently entertaining for kids.
Why parents will like it: The album’s message is anti-bullying, pro-tolerance and understanding people’s differences, plus it is a benefit project too.
Fun fact: Contributors include current Springsteen sideman Little Steven, one-time E-Street-er Vini Lopez and Eric Bazilian of the ‘80s band The Hooters. BUY IT
All on a Sunday Afternoon
The Sugar Free Allstars, ages 6-8, $12.98
Why the judges liked it: This Oklahoma City duo’s latest effort comes jammed with funky rhythms.
Great for: Shaking out a day’s doldrums.
Why it deserves an award: The album is an unbeatable set of soulful, groove-filled music with the track “99 Questions” being one of year’s top tunes.
Why parents will like it: For the fun version of the Talking Heads’ “Stay Up Late” and, while the track “Love Train” isn’t the old O’Jay’s hit, it does name-check the band (and drop other R&B references).
Guest list: Guitar whiz Keller Williams, Keith and Ezra from Trout Fishing In America and Recess Monkey’s Jack Forman all number among the Allstars’ guests. BUY IT
Can You Canoe?
The Okee Dokee Brothers, ages 6-8, $15
Why the judges liked it: The Okee Dokee Brothers (Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander) have crafted a wonderful folksy album about taking a river trip together.
Great for: Feeling like you are canoeing down the Mississippi, without having to get in a real canoe.
Why it deserves an award: The Okee Dokee Brothers stock this album with warm, smartly-written tunes, whether it is a camp-y ditty like “Campin’ Tent” or the naturally evocative “Thousand Star Hotel.”
Why parents will like it: The duo’s rootsy music works its magic on listeners of all ages.
Yes, it’s true: This CD/DVD was inspired by a month-long canoe trip down the Mississippi River. BUY IT
Mr. Diddie Wah Diddie
Randy Kaplan, My Kazoo Music, ages 6-8, $12.98
Why the judges liked it: Kaplan cleverly brings the blues to school kids on this disc. He re-invents old acoustic blues tunes with lyrics relevant to kids, like making the Muddy Waters song “Sugar Sweet” into being about a pet dog.
Great for: Getting your blues on.
Why it deserves an award: Kaplan does a superb job re-imagining country blues into songs for kids.
Why parents will like it: If they like rootsy, bluesy music, then this is one kids’ album that they will request too.
Bonus fun: Interspersed between the songs is a hilarious running conversation between Kaplan and “bluesologist” Mr. Lightnin Bodkins. BUY IT
Farmer Jason, myKaZoo Music (Universal Music Enterprises), ages 6-8, $11
Why the judges liked it: Farmer Jason and his all-star guests take listeners on a musical trek through the great outdoors.
Great for: a soundtrack for a nature walk or to get over a case of cabin fever. Why it deserves an award: The album is full of light-hearted humor, interesting nature facts and plenty of talented musical performances.
Why parents will like it: Well-known musicians like REM’s Mike Mills, Cheap Trick’s Tom Petersson, The Ramones’ Tommy Ramone, Suzy Bogguss are among those giving Farmer Jason a hand here.
Fun fact: Farmer Jason uses his “identical twin brother’s band,” Jason & the Scorchers, on the song, “The Glacier.” BUY IT
Picasso, That's Who! (And So Can You!)
Hope Harris, Holcomb Rock Road, LLC, ages 6-8, $15
Why the judges liked it: On this colorful album, Harris unveils a collection of songs that artfully spotlight 10 different artists, like “A-C-T-I-O-N” about Jackson Pollock to “Swinging Little Duck” about Alexander Calder. Her creative, informative tunes leave a great impression on listeners.
Great for: Getting ready for a trip to an art museum.
Why it deserves an award: Harris earns high marks for creating songs about something as “high brow” as modern art that also are very appealing to kids.
Why parents will like it: They too can learn something about artists like Romare Bearden and Paul Klee in this disc.
Did you know: Grandma Moses only started painting when she was 76. BUY IT
Sing, Learn & Play Everyday!
20 CD Set, Twin Sisters' Productions, ages 6-8, $39.99
Why the judges liked it: This boxset contains twenty CDs (yes, 20!) with each CD having a different theme, such as Mother Goose tunes, animal songs, classical music and science songs.
Great for: Just about any occasion and any time of the day, from “Good Morning Songs” to “Bedtime Songs.”
Why it deserves an award: With 250 songs, it offers a wealth of music to interest little kids
Why parents will like it: Because if the kids don’t like one song, there are plenty of other ones to try.
Yes, it’s true: Over 500 minutes of music is contained in this convenient boxset. BUY IT
Someone Else's Shoes: The Best Foot Forward Series
Recess Music, ages 6-8, $12.99
Why the judges liked it: A feel-good compilation to make kids feel good about themselves and others.
Great for: you want to teach a lesson about being a good person through a song, not a lecture.
Why it deserves an award: Besides teaching strong, positive messages, the compilation features some positively strong songs like Troubadour’s “You Hurt My Feelings,” Jamie Broza’s “Be Nice To Old People,” and Dan Dan Doodlebug’s “There’s No Such Thing As Normal.”
Why parents will like it: The album is all about respecting others’ feelings and differences.
Set list: The Swingset Mamas, Jamie Barnett and Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer number among this disc’s contributors. BUY IT
Pink Elephants In Paris
Mary Lefleur, Golden Angel Music/Safari Productions, ages 6-10, $14.95
Why the judges liked it: On this witty and amusing album, LaFleur takes listeners on a magical trip to Paris.
Great for: Enjoying with a chocolate croissant or some macarons.
Why it deserves an award: LaFleur does a lovely job mixes songs, riddles and spoken word pieces on this bilingual recording.
Why parents will like it: LaFleur’s impressive approach on this disc serves to interesting kids in the French language and culture.
Postscript: This is a posthumous release as LaFleur passed away from cancer in 2007, having originally recorded this a decade earlier, and this is its initial CD release. BUY IT
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, ages 7-12, $15
Why the judges liked it: Secret Agent 23 Skidoo has fashioned an album that is rare in a number of positive ways. His fun, clever raps about growing up smartly address issues for the often-overlooked preteen crowd.
Great for: When the older siblings want to hear something other than little kid music.
Why it deserves an award: This Secret Agent has a special talent for creating raps that relate to kids approaching their teen years.
Why parents will like it: This is tween music that isn’t created by a cable TV network.
It’s a fact: MC Fireworks, who sings on two tracks, is Secret Agent’s pre-teen daughter (aka Saki). BUY IT
Carnival of the Animals
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Maestro Classics, all ages, $16.98
Why the judges liked it: The London Philharmonic Orchestra performs Saint-Saens’ famous musical composition Carnival of the Animals, which is accompanied by Ogden Nash-penned narration.
Great for: Letting children experience classical music through this amusing musical piece.
Why it deserves an award: The pairing of the music and the Nash verses works very well together, particularly for young listeners.
Why parents will like it: Maestro Classics do a consistently good job of making classical music accessible on their CDs by including musical performances and explanations of the music.
Did you know: Composer Saint-Saen thought Carnival of Animals, which he composed for a Mardi Gras party, wasn’t a serious enough musical work, so he wouldn’t let it be published until after his death. BUY IT
Cha, Cha, Cha, French Learning Songs
(Chansons pour enfants)
Whistlefritz LLC, all ages, $14.99
Why the judges liked it: In the past, the Cha, Cha, Cha group has concentrated on Spanish language instruction, but they smoothly move French lessons on this entertaining, and educational, set of “chansons” that will help to inspire listeners to learn French.
Great for: Preparing for trips (real or imagined) to Paris.
Why it deserves an award: It’s a marvelous and fun way to introduce kids to the French language.
Why parents will like it: The CD’s booklet contains French-to-English vocabulary words.
Yes, it’s true: The Latin-flavored music was composed by French-born Didier Prossaird, who has salsa band in Washington, DC. BUY IT
High Dive and other things that could have happened...
Round River Productions, all ages, $15
Why the judges liked it: The award-winning Harley has a true gift for telling comical, compelling musical tales about the ups and downs of childhood as he reveals yet again on this thoroughly wonderful recording that both kids and their parents can relate to.
Great for: Car rides or room cleaning time (if the stories aren’t too distracting).
Why it deserves an award: Harley is one of the best storytellers working today.
Why parents will like it: These musical stories will take parents back to their own childhoods.
It’s a fact: Harley is a double Grammy winner. BUY IT