FolkWorld #75 07/2021
© Michael Moll

Folk for Kidz

Jane Roman Pitt

Jane Roman Pitt: Midnight Lullaby »New parents often play their own personal favorites for their children, rather than traditional bedtime nursery rhymes. I found soothing bedtime songs that the artists wrote for their own children, using their personal thoughts and musical styles.«

Jane Roman Pitt "Midnight Lullaby", Own label, 2009 / 2020

Artist Video

After some 15 months of Covid restrictions, school closures and general upheaval, an album like “A mind of your own” is perfectly timed, to help children to better understand their emotions. And if it all has result in more difficulty to fall asleep, you could give “Midnight Lullabies” a try…

The Bright Siders

The Bright Siders: A mind of your own
The Bright Siders "A mind of your own", Smithsonian Folkways, 2021

Artist Audio

Over the last couple of years, with lockdowns, many children will have struggled emotionally and mentally with the changes and restrictions to their lives. What a perfect timing then, at this time of greatest need to look after our and our children’s mental health, for the release of “A mind of your own” – a playful album aimed to help children to connect with their emotions.

The Bright Siders is an unusual musical collaboration between Americana songwriter Kristin Andreassen and child psychiatrist (and songwriter) Kari Groff, MD has been in the making for ten years. As a young doctor, Kari Groff started writing her own material based on the issues brought to her by her patients, weaving psychiatric advice within her catchy lyrics. It was a chance meeting with singer, clogger, square dance caller and educator, Kristin Andreassen, that started this project.

While the songs are catchy, appealing and fun to listen to, they carry important messages for the young listeners - about friendship, bullying, anger, acceptance of others, and coping with sadness and change, about moving house, feeling not to fit in. The songs are not trying to lecture, but will give useful insights and food for thought.

The album features a wide range of Americana musicians; the music feels contemporary, blending Americana, pop and rock.

The lyrics of “Jumping through hoops” are just one example how current and relevant the lyrics of this album are for today’s children; an excerpt:

        “It ain't easy for the kids these days
        Life gets sort of crazy like a great big maze 
        So if you get discouraged when things get rough
        Remember you have courage and that you're tough (…)
        Cuz you're jumping through hoops, hanging on for the ride 
        It might get sort of bumpy but you'll come out the other side”

Whilst I have not received a full copy of the liner notes of this review copy of the album, I understand that, along with the songs and skits, the liner notes include Dr. Groff’s “Try this at home…” suggestions, intended to set the stage for conversations with children about common emotional themes and experiences they’re likely to have while growing up. 

Directed at primary school children, this is a great and empowering gift to your children.

Contemporary lullabies are featured on “Midnight Lullaby”, an album by American singer Jane Roman Pitt, proposed to be an album for young and old. On the album, the classically trained singer presents lullabies written by the likes of Donovan, Bob Dylan, Dixie Chicks, Neil Young or Johnny Mercer. The music style is somewhere between folk and easy listening. Jane’s soothing vocals and the smooth easy listening flair of the album may relax, or, as in my case, annoy you.

Rim Banna / Checkpoint 303 REMIX

Rim Banna "Songs from April Blossoms: Remix EP - Checkpoint 303", Kirkelig Kulturverksted, 2021

Artist Video

Songs from April Blossoms is a 4-track EP featuring electronic remixes of traditional Palestinian lullabies and children songs originally performed and released on cassette by the iconic Palestinian singer Rim Banna in 1995. The songs were later rearranged and released on CD in 2009.

On this new EP, Checkpoint 303 take the songs to a radically different universe embedding Rim Banna’s eternal voice into electronic soundscapes that vary from minimal eerie electronica to elaborate upbeat dance pieces. Rim Banna, who passed away in 2018 after a long fight with cancer, used her exceptionally beautiful voice and unique talent to celebrate life, resist oppression and raise awareness against the illegal occupation of Palestine. Through her renditions of classic lullabies, nursery rhymes and popular children’s songs, Rim’s soothing voice cheered up the kids, but also brought hope and smiles to many generations of Palestinians.

In spring 2021, 67 Palestinian children were killed by Israeli forces during the bombardment of Gaza. This new release of Rim Banna’s songs is dedicated to their memory and to that of all the children in the world who have been victims of war and violence in all its forms.

Songs from April Blossoms is the latest in a series of collaborations and remixes that have appeared on the Norwegian label KKV, and in which the Checkpoint 303 crew have put Rim Banna’s voice on center stage. In 2018, Checkpoint 303 co-produced Rim’s last album Voice of Resistance in which Rim’s medical scans were converted to sonic soundscapes that were overlaid with her poetry and beautiful melodies by the outstanding Norwegian jazz pianist Bugge Wesseltoft. In 2019, KKV released an album entitled R.I.M.I.X, which contains seven songs by Rim Banna remixed by Ministry of Dub-Key, Nour, Nasser Halahlih and Checkpoint 303.

Photo Credits: (1)-(2) The Bright Siders, (3)-(4) Jane Roman Pitt, (5)-(6) Kirkelig Kulturverksted (unknown/from website).

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