If there had never been a Laurie Berkner, somebody would have created one. There was a chasm in children's music; so huge that the Wikipedia entry for the genre skips from the 1970s straight to Disney movie soundtracks in the 1990s. To this new generation, it's mostly Berkner and Dan Zanes, with a tip of the hat to Raffi.
Berkner is now taking a victory lap of sorts with lullabies, greatest hits collections, even a Christmas album. Her latest release, LAURIE BERKNER'S FAVORITE CLASSIC KIDS' SONGS is almost too much of a good thing – more than two hours worth of tunes divided over two CDs. But wait, there's more! Each CD includes three of Berkner's original tunes that have become classroom favorites ("We Are the Dinosaurs" and "Bumblebee (Buzz Buzz) among them). But wait, there's even more – pre-order one CD through her website and get a second one for free (offer good until October 22)!
Berkner's career goes back to the early 90s, when she used these favorite tunes while "breaking in" her original compositions. Now the circle has closed, in that Berkner's own songs complete the anthology for children who consider her a modern classic.
If you're into your second consecutive decade of children's music (like I am) you have a head start with much of the catalog covered herein. But it would be precious to intimate that only "insiders" have a knowledge with the depth, scope, and breadth of the tracks of this compilation. It's almost like one of those virtual polls on Facebook asking people, "How many of these do YOU remember?" If you have a child in your home under the age of 10, there's a good chance you know the majority of them – from "I've Been Working on the Railroad" to "The Ants Go Marching" to "This Little Light of Mine."
The last track is significant, because bandmate Brady Rymer has also included "Little Light" in his set list with The Little Band That Could. Brady gets to duet with Berkner on "There's A Hole In The Bucket," which got my (younger) son to snap, "He is singing with her, is it his song?" How does one explain folk standards to a four-year-old? Drummer Bobby Golden is the latest addition to the growing Berkner Band, which is rounded out by longtime keyboard player Susie Lampert.
The curse in becoming ubiquitous is that you can be easily dismissed. Raffi has returned to recording new music (his second CD in two year, OWL SINGALONG, is coming in January 2016). Partially because he loves the genre but also to regain his relevance in the modern kindie marketplace. Berkner needs to avoid this same pitfall. FAVORITE CLASSIC KIDS' SONGS is a cornucopia of goodies. But it's time to put the classics aside and remind people why their kids consider Laurie Berkner the tertiary Modern Mother of Kindie.
LAURIE BERKNER'S FAVORITE CLASSIC KIDS' SONGS is available from her website, Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes.
Here is the video for "Froggie Went A Courtin'":