In recent years there has been an increase in the number of world music recordings that specifically target children. Two of the early pioneers were Music for Little People and Rounder Kids. Other labels, like Putumayo World Music, started children’s series more recently. World music can open the minds of youngsters to a rich variety of good music and, at the same time, introduce them to other cultures.
The Rough Guide series has recently released two recordings for children. The first is entitled Rough Guide to African Music for Children. The CD features some of the best-known artists from across the continent, with tracks chosen by children, for children. World Music Network, with the help of the music charity Music For Change, spoke to more than a thousand children, who selected their favorite African music tracks.
The other album is The Rough Guide to Latin Music for Children. Music For Change also collaborated in the compilation. It set up a project to have school children select their favorite Latin music songs. It was a unique opportunity to see what kind of music inspired them. A community based project based in Kent that aims to raise understanding of different cultures through music and the performing arts, Music For Change was in a perfect
position to help coordinate the research. More than twenty-six schools, involving 150 classes ranging from nursery to Year 6 (5- to 11- year-olds), from Kent, Surrey, Sussex, London, Hampshire and Cheshire (including two special-needs schools) worked to select this album. Each class was given dozens of songs and the students were asked to select their favorites.
Beautifully packaged, with a hard cover book, Un mundo, Muchas Voces, released by Spanish book
publisher Panamusic Editorial, focuses on songs from Spain, Cuba, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Brazil, Peru, and Sudan. The book includes colorful original artwork and the lyrics to the songs in Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic (for the Sudanese songs). The artists who participate are some of the finest performers in their countries: flamenco singer El Negri (Spain), Cuban troveros Gema y Pável, Sudanese singer Rasha and many others. Unfortunately, it is hard to find.
Sol y Canto‘s El doble de amigos (Twice As Many friends), released by Rounder Kids, is more educational than the rest. The fun songs teach Spanish to the listener. the CD booklet comes with lyrics in Spanish ad English. The group travels through various styles to introduce the young listeners to the rich variety of musical forms in the Spanish-speaking countries.
Putumayo World Music recently added a new title to its Putumayo Kids line: Putumayo Presents French Playground. This collection is less world music oriented than the other albums listed in this
article, with a very campy and retro feel. It contains chanson, Gypsy jazz and songs from France, Quebec and Haiti. More interesting is Latin Playground, which can also be acquired with an English & Spanish activity kit. It features top artists from the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries in Latin America. Putumayo Kids Presents: Sing Along With Putumayo includes American roots artists.
For a Caribbean angle, there is Putumayo Kids Presents: Caribbean Playground and Putumayo Kids Presents: Reggae Playground. For a taste of pan global cultures Putumayo released World Playground and World Playground 2. Africa is represented with African Playground.
Music for Little People has attractive CDs that include top world music artists. Music for Little People: 15th Anniversary Collection gives a taste of what the label has to offer. Some of its best recordings for children featuring world music or American roots music for children include: Circle Time: Songs & Rhymes for the Very Young, Shake Sugaree by Taj Mahal, Fiesta Musical with several Latin artists, Cajun for Kids, All for Freedom by Sweet Honey In The Rock, and Family Folk Festival.
More Kids’ Pow-Wow Songs features American Indian group the Black Lodge Singers (Blackfeet) and continues their tradition of producing quintessential original pow-wow music. This recording is a follow-up to Black Lodge’s earlier hit-Kids’ Pow-Wow Songs-and includes aboriginal American pow-wow songs for today’s kids of all ages. Songs such as “Sponge Bob Square Pants,” “Scooby Doo,” “Barbie ‘s Round Dance” and “Elmo’s World,” meant to make kids of all ages laugh and get up and dance.