Independent women make great kids' music By Fred KochChicago, with its vast array of talent and diversity, is becoming known in the music industry as a hot spot for outstanding children's music artists and producers. Some names are familiar-Ella Jenkins (“the first lady of children's folk song”), Jim Gill, Ralph Covert and Dave Rudolph, to name just a few. I'm sure you notice that, except for Ella, the majority of the children's music artists are male. The good news is that Chicago is home to quite a few very talented female performing and recording artists who are making great music for children and families to enjoy together.
This month, I share some of my favorite independent female children's music artists in the hope that you will support them so they can continue to produce music for our children to enjoy. In that vein, I want to remind you that every time we burn a CD instead of buying one, we are taking money out of the pockets of these artists who not only rely on this for income but also need it to cover their costs so they can produce more great music for us.
Here is a sampling of some of my favorite CDs from these talented women. SHINY NEW SHOES, by Susan Salidor, self-produced, $16, www.susansalidor.com; ages 3-7.
This, Salidor's fourth recording for families, is a Parents' Choice Silver Award winner, and for good reason. It brims with delightful songs and is filled with expert musicianship. The title song keenly conveys the exuberance that comes with wearing a pair of new shoes, and those shiny new shoes will certainly get a workout while dancing to “Shimmy With Me.”
I appreciate the variety of musical styles and her warm, inviting vocals. Other favorite songs around our house include “I'm Having a Backwards Day” and “Fine Finkelstein,” which speaks to, without being preachy, the diversity of families and friends. I think a review of Salidor's CD in Publisher's Weekly sums it up well: “(Salidor) performs tunes that will have kids dancing as well as doing some age-appropriate soul-searching.”
In addition to three other fine recordings, Salidor has released “The Susan Salidor Songbook,” a collection with piano/vocal arrangements of original songs from her recordings, along with a compilation CD. The songbook contains the sheet music and recordings for more than 25 songs and is available only through her Web site at www.susansalidor.com.
CONTA CONMIGO, by Tricia Sebastian, self-produced, $16.95, www.cdbaby.com/cd/tricia; ages 2-6.
In addition to releasing her very fine first bilingual children's recording, Tricia Sebastian is busy working with children in various musical outreach programs, including Ravinia and the West Side Boys and Girls Club. Sebastian, originally from Corpus Christi, Texas, currently teaches Bilingual Wiggleworms at the Old Town School of Folk Music, conducts two bilingual children's choirs called Coro de las Americas and performs locally with her band, Gropo Botanica.
Her children's CD, “Conta Conmigo,” features a bunch of great bilingual songs, Spanish-only songs and one of my favorite (English-only) preschool songs “Hurry Hurry (Drive the Fire Truck).” It is obvious that Sebastian spends a great deal of time with children-her songs are child-centered and full of fun. Other classics include “El Chocolate,” “De Colores” and “Venga a Ver Mi Granja.” Tricia's CD is available locally at Happy Child Studios, 741 Main St., Evanston, (847) 733-9545, or online at www.cdbaby.com.
HUSH, by Cory Goodrich, Wagtail Productions, $14.99, www.coryshouse.com; infants & toddlers.
In this collection of lullabies, accomplished singer and actress Cory Goodrich enters a crowded field of musicians creating lullaby music. Cory sings original and traditional lullabies that are beautifully orchestrated and masterfully produced by Steve Rashid. Cory's voice is soothing and gorgeous and the songs are touching and tender-a perfect combination for those snuggly times at the end of the day. Standouts include “When the Babies Come Out Tonight” and Cory's interpretation of the classic “All the Pretty Little Horses.” Susan Hammond (creator of the Classical Kids series) exclaimed, “Utterly, completely, beautiful! Cory is PURRFECT! I wish I had this recording for my children!”
Simultaneously, Cory and co-producer Paul Pement also released a second CD, “Wiggly Toes” (also $14.99), which is designed as music for playtime and geared for a slightly older audience. Again, superbly produced by Steve Rashid, this collection includes a mix of traditional songs (“The Cat Came Back,” “Great Big Dog”) and original songs. My favorite is “Hola, Lola” the tongue-twisty story of Lola Lopez from Lima who went to visit her cousin Harry in Honolulu. Let's hope for more music from up and coming children's music producers Cory and Paul.
KAREN FOR KIDS, by Karen Banks-Lubicz, Garden Party Productions, $15, www.cdbaby.com/bankslubicz; ages 3-7.
Another Old Town School of Folk Music teacher with a fine children's music CD is Karen Banks-Lubicz. And, again, her experience with children is apparent and her care to production details is kid friendly. There is enough instrumentation in these classic and original folk songs to get you groovin', but not so much as to overpower the essence of the song. I enjoy Karen's voice and her song selection, too, which includes lots of traditional fare (“This Old Man,” “Mama Don't Allow” and “Hush Little Baby”) and some nice original song collaborations (“If I Were a Bird” with Amy Lowe) and Catherine Hall's “The Elevator Song.” “Karen for Kids” is available locally at Happy Child Studios, 741 Main St., Evanston, (847) 733-9545, and the Different Strummer located in the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago, (773) 751-3398, and 909 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, (773) 751-3410.
Fred Koch lives in Lake Bluff with his wife and son and is an award-winning music educator, children's musician and producer. His Web site, www.BestChildrensMusic.com, helps parents, teachers and librarians select quality children's music. The Web site also includes an archive of all Koch's past reviews published in Chicago Parent. Please e-mail notes and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.