Contemporary kindie (children's independent) music is not just folk music. If your thoughts immediately drift to Dan Zanes, scan over to his supporting band – people like Elena Moon Park and Sonia De Los Santos. As much as Prez Trump and his ilk squeal and complain, the world is changing. And so is the complexion of the people making and performing for children.
Little Miss Ann (Ann Torralba) and Amy D (Amyliza de Jesus) share a common background – Filipino-Americans with backgrounds in music and education. Ann hails from Chicago and Amy is from Nashville. Working with children has given them a chance to incorporate world influences as well as local cultures into their songs. Their new CD, KEEP ON, let's them reach the little ones with "Shake & Sing" and "The Senses Song." But they dive deeper with calypso on "Hill and Gully Rider," featuring guest artists 123 Andres and Tim Sutton from Ratboy Jr. (Tim, Ben keeps asking when the next Ratboy Jr. CD is coming).
Once again, the sorcerer waving a wand over this production is kindie über-producer Dean Jones. Much like an Uber driver, Dean steers KEEP ON clear of any potholes or false notes. As Ann and Amy point out in the liner notes, "Dean plays just about every instrument known to man." For anyone who grew up with (or only know) "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" as a Tiny Tim novelty ditty, the ladies forcibly and daintily reclaim it as a gentle love song, complete with a toy piano.
KEEP ON is not going to rock your world. It's not even going to rock your socks off. At a mere 29 minutes, it's an appetizer to get your child's attention or provide some gentle background to a family activity. Ann and Amy merge their voices into a sweet harmony that any amateur can use as a background refresher for "Where Is Thumbkin?"
The best children's music is kept simple, minus any bold-faced headlines or bald-faced alternative facts. KEEP ON encourages kids to "Keep On Keeping On" despite feeling sleepy or discouraged. The strong roots of the folk movement segue gently into the realm of kindie on its 10 tracks. KEEP ON singing, keep on playing, keep on learning, just keep on going forward.
KEEP ON is available on February 17 from Little Miss Ann's website, CDBABY, Amazon, and iTunes.
Here is a video of "Someday, Some Morning" (lyrics by Woody Guthrie, music by Jeff Tweedy):