A melting pot, a salad bowl, a tapestry — however you view the North American convergence of cultures, adults sharing connections across generations with children is a constant. Here are three recordings to help you enjoy that. It’s kidstuff but not just for children. Bring along a kid in your life and take a listen.
Randall Paskemin is a singer and songwriter and a proud father. He is also a member of the Plains Cree people, a member of the Sweetgrass First Nation of Saskatchewan, Canada, who lives now in the western United States. He brings all of this to his new recording Goodnight Sweet Dreams I Love You. It is a collection of songs and lullabies to accompany children through the day. Lyrics in English and Cree are interwoven, and touches of familiar melodies such as Happy Birthday sometimes arise alongside Native American ones. He offers a soothing, celebratory sort of music that expresses deep love of parent for child and the safety that feeling brings to both. It could be just the right thing to rock children (and tired parents) to sleep.
When you are ready to dance around the room with kids you know, Ranky Tanky from Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem is a good choice. Though they are known for their stellar history of folk and Americana albums aimed at adults, fiddler and singer Rani Arbo and the three men of daisy mayhem — Andrew Kinsey on bass, Anand Nayak on guitar and Scott Kessel on his own invention, drumship enterprise, for percussion — have a really fine time with children’s songs old and new. All of them are parents, and as they began to share their joy in music with their children, the idea of doing a children’s show and then a children’s album naturally emerged. On this album you’ll find music you’ve heard before, including Green Grass Grows All Around and Purple People Eater, as well as less familiar songs. All four of the band members sing, and they’ve been working together for more than a decade now. The creativity, fun, love, and respect for each other they’ve developed over the years come out as they trade lead and harmony across songs such as the hilarious They All Ask’d for You, the uplifting If You Want to Sing Out Sing Out, and the reflective Morningtown Ride.
Tish Hinojosa was born in San Antonio, Texas. Her parents, and many of her older brothers and sisters, were born in Mexico. She grew up with strong ties across the border, and in a household where there’d be Mexican music on the kitchen radio and Nashville country music on the television in the other room. That was just the beginning of the well of experiences she had to draw on when making her way as a professional musician. Watching her own children grow, she realized their experiences were different, and yet there were things she wanted to pass on. One of the results of her thoughts on that is the recording Cada Niño/Every Child. In most of the songs, lyrics move back and forth naturally between English and Spanish, not always literal translations of each other but in the same spirit. Subjects include memories of Hinojosa’s visits to her grandmother in Mexico, and of playing with her own children, stories from history of brave women of the frontera, a lively piece about Day of the Dead celebrations, and the title track, a hopeful song talking of children and faith in the future. There’s also one of the funniest songs you’re likely to come across anywhere, El Baile Vegetal/The Barnyard Dance, which will get people of all ages and languages laughing at the antics of midnight vegetables.
Vegetables dancing after midnight, birthday greetings sung in Cree, a quiet lullabye train taking you through night to morning: whatever you choose, it will be good fun and good listening.
You might also enjoy learning why El Doble de Amigos means twice as many friends.
Photograph of musician Tish Hinojosa by Kerry Dexter.
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