Chicago musicians in the spotlight


It is time for some spring cleaning around here. The CDs are piled high, so let’s dust a few off and spotlight some recordings deserving of recognition.

This month we are spotlighting three Chicago-based artists and their new projects.

CORAZON ALEGRE-HAPPY HEART, by Tricia Sebastian, $15,; ages 5-12.

It has been eight years since Tricia Sebastian’s first Spanish/English bilingual CD, Canta Conmigo. She has been very busy teaching, performing and growing her family, but now she is back with a stellar cast of musicians and a very family-friendly set of bilingual songs.

Sebastian effortlessly fuses the styles and rhythms of Texas, Mexico, Latin America and Spain into this delightful new recording.

I have always loved Tricia’s voice and her musical sensibilities, so it is no wonder that I would include this CD on my best of the year list.

CALLIN' ALL KIDS, by Kara Kesselring and Laurie Empen, Fish Face Productions, $15,; ages 3-7.

Chicago is blessed with many fabulous children’s music artists and Callin’ All Kids is another fine example of the quality of music that originates here. Arranger and co-producer Kara Kesselring stays busy with her music career, which includes teaching at The Old Town School of Music and performing in many of Chicago’s finest music venues. She is also a member of Wavelength, an improvisational theater troupe that presents at major educational conferences.

There are many wonderful aspects to Callin’ All Kids but, most of all, it is easy to listen to and fun to sing along. The CD features mostly traditional children’s songs, which is nothing new or original, but it is the wonderfully tasty arrangements that make this recording so enjoyable. Kara and Laurie provide fabulous vocals while Neal Alger (guitar) and Patrick Williams (bass) supply a superb music track.

Check out Callin’ All Kids at CDBaby ( where you can see the complete song list and listen to excerpts of each song. It will be well worth your time.

A SOUP OPERA (Book/CD Combo) BY JIM GILL, Jim Gill Music Inc., $22,; ages 3-7.

Rounding out our spotlight on Chicago music makers, we feature another one of my favorite recording artists, Jim Gill. Recording after recording, Gill produces some of the most creative and child-centered songs you will find anywhere. And now he has released his second book/CD combo, which is also bound to receive rave reviews.

A Soup Opera was inspired by Gill’s series of concerts with symphony orchestras. Here is what Jim has to say about his new book,"The orchestra tunes. The audience is filled with anticipation. The conductor brings the musicians to attention. The opera begins! A Soup Opera is a richly illustrated story about a man, a bowl of soup and the man’s operatic and comically frustrating quest to eat it. Additional characters in the cast include a chef, a police officer and the President of the United States!”

Gill has masterfully crafted the book and fully orchestrated CD so that children and parents will use it as a source of music play and classroom teachers and librarians can use it for dramatic play.

To find out more about A Soup Opera as well as Jim’s other award-winning recordings, visit his Web site at

Fred Koch lives in Lake Bluff with his wife and son and is an award-winning music educator, recording artist and producer. His Web site,, helps parents, teachers and librarians select quality children’s music. E-mail him at

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