Tag Archives: Debbie and Friends

2011 KidVid Tournament: Woody Guthrie Regional

Who needs a ball and a hoop for March Madness? It’s time to break out your brackets kindie style, with the 2011 KidVid Tournament!

What’s a KidVid Tournament, you ask? Only a roundup of some of the year’s best and brightest kindie videos, organized into divisions and marched into one-on-one battle, one round at a time. Cheerleaders are not involved, regrettably, but I imagine some sort of trophy awaits the winner. Or pride. Whatever.

Anyway, the fun kicks off today at Out with the Kids, where the Woody Guthrie Regional division is hitting the court. Here’s a breakdown of the videos fighting for your vote today, along with a little commentary from yours truly. Watch the clips and then head over to OWTK to cast your vote! Continue reading

CD Review: Debbie and Friends, “More Story Songs and Sing Alongs”

Debbie’s back, she’s brought her Friends, and she has More Story Songs and Sing Alongs!

If you listened to the first volume, or if you’ve caught Debbie at one of her many well-received concerts over the last few years, you know what to expect — catchy, positive tunes, delivered with the same strong lines and bright colors you see in the album artwork. Debbie kicks off the new album with a song titled “So, So Happy,” and that about sums it up — this is cheerful music, focused on the best things about family, love, and growing up. Subjects include making silly faces for the camera (“Willy Won’t”), sports (“Home Run Ronnie”), achieving goals (“I Think I Can”), and friendship (“Until Next Time”), with a round of Simon Says thrown in for good measure (um, “Simon Says”). There’s even a dance track (“Little Red Remix”) and a duet with the James Brown of kids’ music, Bob McGrath. What else do you want?

Like the first volume, More Story Songs and Sing Alongs is slickly produced, with a bright polish to go with the smartly crafted arrangements (credits in the liner notes include everything from banjo to strings, brass, and a children’s choir). As far as kids’ music goes, it’s pretty much the polar opposite of recent rootsy discs from the likes of Dean Jones or Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem, and it’s more narrowly focused, too — Debbie’s music is aimed at the pre-K demographic, and perhaps unlike those other artists, your mileage may vary with the older kids in your family. But for the little ones who just want a little primary color fun, More Story Songs and Sing Alongs is just about perfect — 33 minutes of sunshine and dancing. Watch this video for “Home Run Ronnie” and see if you don’t agree.

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CD Review: Debbie and Friends, “Story Songs and Sing Alongs”

Debbie and Friends – Story Songs and Sing Alongs (2007, Debbie Cavalier Music)
purchase this album (CD Baby)

As any parent of a young child (or, God forbid, multiple young children) can tell you between exhausted sobbing fits, the kids are the bosses of the house. It’s a dirty secret that “grown-up” artists like They Might Be Giants and Barenaked Ladies have just started figuring out — no doubt partly thanks to having kids of their own — but the brave men and women who have committed their careers to making music for tots have known it for years; in fact, they rely on it to make a living. Take that little jerk Raffi, for instance — how many dads, do you think, fantasized about knocking his teeth out the first time they heard “Baby Beluga”? But they couldn’t, because kids looooooooove Raffi.

Yes, children are tyrants, and once they latch onto a television show, movie, or piece of music, Mom and Dad are going to listen to it repeatedly, whether they like it or not. Of course, getting the tykes to do the latching requires a certain level of commitment on the performer’s part — he or she may need to climb into a purple dinosaur suit, or introduce himself at cocktail parties as “the yellow Wiggle.” Or, in Debbie Cavalier’s case, strap on a phony Southern accent and pretend to talk to a horse. (This isn’t anything Toby Keith doesn’t do on any given afternoon, but still: commitment.)

Cavalier’s debut CD, Story Songs and Sing Alongs, comes 20 years into a distinguished career that has included over 100 music education method books and arrangements — not to mention a long-running association with her alma mater, the Berklee College of Music, where she currently serves as the Dean of Continuing Education. She may look like a cartoon on the cover of the album, but she clearly isn’t fooling around; each of these songs boasts full-bodied arrangements and a large backing band, and Story Songs‘ press kit claims it’ll be “a toss-up as to who will shout ‘AGAIN!’ the loudest: you or your child.”

Truthfully, Debbie will probably come up snake eyes on that roll in your household, but Story Songs and Sing Alongs is a children’s album definitely not lacking in charm. It falls squarely on the cutesy-poo end of the spectrum, and you will almost definitely catch yourself doing some eye-rolling at certain points (such as the aforementioned pretend-horse-talking), but this album hasn’t won a slew of honors (including the 2008 iParenting Media Award and Parents’ Choice Approved Award) for nothing; Cavalier covers a broad range of topics, framing them within the fairytales kids everywhere know and love, and wraps everything in slick, sitcom-theme-ready performances and production. The album’s sort of a throwback to the days when “children’s music” was synonymous with “pandering,” but it isn’t so saccharine enough to keep you from singing along — and by the end, when she pulls out all the stops for “Love Is a Family,” including an out-of-nowhere rock guitar solo and an over-emoting choir, you will know what it means to drown in cheese and love it.

Perhaps the album’s ultimate endorsement comes from Bob McGrath of Sesame Street, who says “I wish someone had written songs like this when I was a kid!” Of course, when Bob was a kid, minstrels were lugging lutes and harpsichords between feudal villages, but his point is well-taken — my daughter sat rapt in front of the stereo for a good half hour while Story Songs and Sing Alongs played, studiously perusing the booklet (even though she can’t read). It’s smartly written, it’s fun, and it’s miles better than stupid old Raffi. You may not love it like your little ones, but the smiles on their faces (particularly when songs like “I’m Not Tired” come on) should more than make up for it.