World music for kids is a great way to introduce children to musical diversity and learn about geography and other cultures. Mainstream media provides a very limited, skewed view of music with only exposure to commercial pop and hip hop. Two recent world music-flavored releases are directed towards kids.
Putumayo Kids Presents… Kid’s African Party (Putumayo World Music, 2018) is a compilation of animated songs with catchy vocals and rhythms that represent various parts of Africa and invite children to stand up and dance.
The album includes Sam Mukoro’s Nigerian reggae; Afropop from Takeifa (Senegal) and Aldebert ft. Matar Sall & Joyce Tape (France/Senegal/Ivory Coast); American lounge band Pink Martini playing a funk version of famous South African song Pata Pata; the East African charm of Jabali Afrika (Kenya); the great highlife guitar lines of Babá Ken Okulolo (Nigeria); Zambian Afropop from Larry Maluma & Kalimba; Berber pop by Majid Soula (Algeria); excellent chimurenga highlighting the mbira and guitar of Chris Berry & Panjea (USA/Zimbabwe); and Sharon Katz & The Peace Train introduce kids to swinging South African music, highlighting the pennywhistle.
The physical CD version of Kid’s African Party is way more fun than the digital edition, featuring dancing kids and animals; colorful illustrations; biographies of the artists with geographical and cultural information that parents can read to the kids; and a short glossary of African music styles and instruments.
The other album, Coloreando Dos, by Colombian songwriter and instrumentalist Marta Gómez introduces traditional Spanish-language songs for children from Spain and Spanish-speaking America adorned with exquisitely-crafted Latin American rhythms and Marta Gómez’s captivating vocals and guitar.
The CD version of Coloreando Dos is beautifully-packaged with lyrics in Spanish and translations to English, multicolored illustrations. On the down side, the liner notes make a nonsensical reference to this album featuring Colombian Spanish rather than Spanish. Any Spanish-speaking person, from any country, will be able to understand the lyrics perfectly. Some Americans (the album was released in the USA) seem to be obsessed with highlighting differences between Spanish from various nations, when they are really minimal.