Exciting beats and rhythms, plus impactful lyrics that nurture the body, mind, and spirit make kids’ music educational and entertaining. Artists of color and women are achieving this; however, they are not always recognized —that’s the conversation surrounding the 63rd Grammy nominees for Best Children’s Album.
We’ve listed a few folks who are beyond worthy of fans. Take a listen, and check out Family Music Forward on Facebook for more on the conversation about representation in children’s music.
Turn up these tracks: “Daddy Daughter Day,” “My Body,” “Gather Your Clothes”
Afrofuturist beats from Freelon, a politician, musician, and professor, tell the story of growing up from child and parent perspectives. “Daddy Daughter Day” is a joyful adventure, “My Body” teaches kids about consent, and “Gather Your Clothes” expresses frustration over messy rooms.
Elena Moon Park
Turn up these tracks: “Flower Dance,” “Ito Maki”
In collaboration with artist Kristiana Pärn, Park crafted this album of reimagined folk and children’s songs from east and southeast Asia. “Flower Dance” illustrates a Cambodian tradition, and “Ito Maki” is a Japanese song about sewing outfits for animals. Find captivating paintings and extra learning resources for each song online.
Mista Cookie Jar
Turn up these tracks: “Seratonin,” “All I Need Is You,” “Chillin’”
This funky arrangement of sounds from hip hop, folk, reggae, and jazz features multiple artists in the children’s music circle such as Little Miss Ann and Father Goose. Mista Cookie Jar names the feel-good sensations in a kid-friendly way in “Seratonin,” taps into positive family relationships in “All I Need Is You,” and basks in the glory of backyard parties in “Chillin’.”
Turn up these tracks: “Arriba, Abajo” (Up High Down Low), “El Baile de los Colores” (The Dance of All the Colors)
With 50 years of bilingual children’s music production under his belt, Orozco presents another album with Spanish songs first (los primeros números son en Español) followed by English versions. “Arriba, Abajo” has a folclórico feel with a cantering beat, engaging kids in a full-body stretch, and “El Baile de los Colores” names colors in a repeat-after-me pattern.
Turn up these tracks: “Shadow Puppets,”“Grateful”
Goings, of Disney’s Choo Choo Soul, puts the challenging reality of quarantine to a bumping pop beat through her solo album. “Shadow Puppets” brings an age-old pastime to modern imagination, and “Grateful” adds a dash of disco and delight to the phone and video calls many of us made last year.