Monday, July 18, 2016

My Favorite Children's Musicians

I truly enjoy listening to children's music.  Probably more than my kids do.  Pretty much all of the kids' music I consider "good" is actually folk music, which might explain why I love it so much.

That said, I almost universally dislike when children themselves are singing the songs.  The little voices just tend to sound so whiny!  I prefer an adult singer with some simple but well-performed accompaniment.

Here is a list of my top recommendations for children's artists:

1. Nancy Cassidy
This is the woman I grew up listening to!  I have mega nostalgia when it comes to her albums, and still know every song by heart.  They were originally released by Klutz.  Each album historically came with a lyric book so kids can follow along (we had the cassette tapes growing up).  I'm not sure if the newest version of the cds comes with these, but I'd bet you can find them on eBay.  She has a great voice, and it's easy to sing along.

KidsSongs Jubilee (my favorite)
KidsSongs 2

2. Raffi
I never heard of Raffi as a child.  How is that even possible?  I feel like everyone else my age grew up with his music.  Now I know I was really missing out!  We now have a ton of his albums, and I love them all.  He's quite a prolific artist!  Here are all the ones I can definitely recommend:

Singable Songs for the Very Young
Baby Beluga
Rise and Shine
One Light, One Sun
Everything Grows
Bananaphone (one of the kids' favorites)
More Singable Songs
The Corner Grocery Store
Raffi's Christmas Album
Raffi Radio (Tom and I have been known to put on the song 'Coconut' even after the kids are in bed just because it's so enjoyable)
Let's Play

As I was compiling this list, I discovered that he has two new albums I've never even listened to!  It genuinely feels like I discovered a goldmine, and I just declared to Tom that Sly and Stella will each be receiving a Raffi album for their birthdays next month :-)

3. Elizabeth Mitchell
She's a newer artist than the others I've mentioned. I first heard her lovely voice at a friends' house, when she put on an album for her children.  Elizabeth sings a lot of modern renditions of traditional folk songs.  Her stuff is probably the easiest to find at your local library.

You Are My Sunshine
You Are My Little Bird
Little Seed (my all-time favorite - all the songs are covers of Woody Guthrie songs)
Sunny Day

4. Peggy and Mike Seeger
A sister and brother duo (their half-brother is Pete Seeger).  I only have one of their albums (so far!), but I've been loving it.  On this, they are singing the entire collection of folk songs their mother Ruth published in one of her several song books (see it here).

American Folk Songs for Children

I recently found another of Ruth Seeger's books at a library book sale, and it's a sweet collection of songs.  I've seen that the siblings recorded an album of these as well, and I'm looking forward to hearing it sometime.

5. Making Music Praying Twice
I really like the idea of this program, intended to teach music and rhythm (and a bit of the Faith) to young children.  The song selections are pretty good, though I'll say that the singers' voices/singing style is sometimes not my favorite.  But it's a great intro to some simple, fun songs for kids.  I've heard my children singing songs off these albums more than any of the other ones, even though I've played them less times.

Making Music Praying Twice Family Edition


Who are your family's favorite children's artists?  I'd love to give them a listen!

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Closet Madonna

We have an abundance of Mary statues around outdoor one who looks after our garden, a beautiful pearlescent one on our home altar, one in the dining room opposite a St. Joseph statue, two kitchen Madonnas in - appropriately enough - the kitchen, and a scattering of smaller ones in bedrooms.

Then there's the poor neglected  Lady of Sorrows statue that's been sitting in my closet for ages.  We used to have her out in out living room until Advent started one year.  A sorrowful Mary just didn't fit with the season of Advent.  Besides, I was going through the house trying to reduce excess where I could, and that statue had never been my favorite anyways.  So I put her in my closet to keep her safe from little hands....and I guess I kind of forgot about her.  Or perhaps I just haven't taken the time to figure out what to do with her.

I have a strict "no kids in my closet" rule, but ever since the kids discovered the statue in there a few months ago, I've allowed one exception - they are allowed to go in each morning while I have it open and give her a kiss.  Stella often talks to me about why Mary is so sad.

Acting upon another sweet and holy inspiration, the kids have been occasionally picking flowers from the yard, and bring them in to give to the yellow Kitchen Madonna near the sink.  I keep some mini vases next to her just for this purpose.  Truth be told, it's a benefit to myself as well, since I enjoy having pretty fresh flowers to look at while I'm washing the endless dishes.

A couple weeks ago, Stella brought in a big orange day-lily.  It was one of the first of the season, and I was looking forward to displaying it on my kitchen shelf.  I started filling one of the little vases, but Stella stopped me.  "No, I want to give it to another Mary."  I tried to convince her to give her flower to Mary in the dining room or Mary in the backyard.....somewhere public where we could all enjoy the beautiful flower.  But Stella was insistent - she wanted to give the flower to the Mary in my closet.  I told her the flower wouldn't do well just shut up in the dark, that no one would be able to see it in there, that I didn't want a vase of water spilling all over the carpet, and that we should really find a better place.  "No," Stella answered, "I want to give it to Mary in your closet.  To make her not sad anymore."

Of course, my heart just melted under the impact of such a pure and loving intention.

It's now become somewhat regular for Stella to bring a flower to "Mary in my closet" - gifts given completely unselfishly, entirely for the joy and honor of the recipient.