Tuesday, April 29, 2008

music for mothers and children

Mother's Day is coming up, in America. With that in mind, here's a look back a several albums that children, and their parents and other adults in their lives, will be able to enjoy together.

Both parent an child will likely enjoy Down at the Sea Hotel. By turns as whimsical as the title cut, by Iowa singer songwriter Greg Brown, and as thoughtful as Steve Earle’s Nothing but a Child, which is sung together by many of the artists who contribute to this album, it’s a varied collection with top singers and songwriters offering familiar and less familiar songs by other top contemporary writers. Guy Davis singss a bluesy Midnight Lullaby, while Eliza Gilkyson delivers two of the really standout cuts on the disc, Midnight in Missoula and the Carole King classic Child of Mine. Other singers include Lucy Kaplansky, John Gorka, and Lynn Miles, on songs written by Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tom Waits, and others.

Do kids themselves create songs that will hold up to repeated listening? Well, at the very least you know you’ll get a few topics adult writers might not at first choose. The Football Toad and Papaya People are two of those Rory Block helped the kids in her sons’ school classes bring to life on the album Color Me Wild. Block is known as an intense and powerful blues singer and guitarist, but she says “I also have a really off the wall sense of humor.” That probably came in really helpful when her children were small, which is when she put together this project.

A whole list of well known musicians ( and Grammy winning) from Darrell Scott to Amy Grant joined up with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra and Paul Reisler’s Kid Pan Alley project to let kids see and experience what it’s like to create a song. The result: some lovely lullabyes, some funny stuff, and, well, a song about socks...

Tish Hinojosa offers a batch of songs both parents and children will enjoy on Cada Nino. Hinojosa is first generation Mexican American, and she draws on this background to remember in song trips to visit her grandmother back in Mexico and talk about some women of border history. Soon you and your kids will liklely be singing along with Hinojosa in both English and Spanish, especially on her hilarious imagining of what the vegetables get up to when we’re not looking, El Baile Vegetal/Vegetable Dance.

Jane Siberry offers a recording that’ll likely have you singing along too, although in a quieter way, as you might suspect from its title, Hush. This is Siberry in a relaxed folk mode, offering familiar songs including We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder, All Through the Night, and The Water Is Wide. If you are in a lullaby frame of mind, you might want to look up Padraigin ni Uallachain's music, especially her recording Irish Lullaby. If you're looking more for humor, laughter, and challenge, then check out Celebrate the Difference, from Terri Hendrix.

In an upcoming post, a look at another fine and unusual album celebrating mothers, grandmothers, and motherhood, Mother, from Susan McKeown, Robin Spielberg, and Cathie Ryan.

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Blogger Anjuli said...

Although this was 2 years ago- Mother's Day is rolling around again and so it was such a 'timely' blog post for me to read!! I definitely want to check into these.

2:14 AM  

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