Monday, February 22, 2016

Music for kids from Africa and the African diaspora

I love to do the standard American favorites, Head, shouders, knees and toes, Five little monkeys etc. etc. Sometimes depending on my audience, the event or my mood I may switch up a song, use a different beat or sing a song a different way. It is always good to try new songs, listen to different cds and explore what's out there. I think that kids especially need to be exposed to different cultures to develop an appreciation for them.

I remember when I discovered Asheba. Not only was I surprised that there was a dreadlocked dude doing Caribbean versions of classic children's rhymes but he is also from my homeland of Trinidad. Here is his version of Five little monkeys. Be warned that this version is very upbeat!  If you are looking for an African-themed call and response song though, try this song from South Africa. Featuring instructions such as to the left", "to the right" and "wiggle your tail in the moonlight" this song is sure to make it onto your playlist.

I frequently refer to the now defunct Noggin tv station. The more I think about it, that station was aimed directly at Gen X parents who had grown up on certain types of music and may have wanted to share it with their offspring. Bob Marley for example is perhaps everyone's favorite reggae singer. And in this video the animation truly gives the song a different dimension. Gee, I wish Peter Tosh, Jacob Miller and others had more children's songs.

When Noggin became Nick Jr they introduced many children's shows featuring diverse casts. One of them was Gullah Gullah island a terrific little that show featured a ton of good songs such as the West African influenced Fungal Alafia shown below. The version below is a little less percussion heavy but I found another version of the song as performed by this  group and it is fantastic. It is a great intro to a Black History Month or Kwanzaa program.

If you never knew Kermit was cool, know that he once did a sing/rap of the alphabet together with with Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Check it out, it is mellow and catchy at the same time. I used to watch it growing up and can still remember it after all these years.

Finally what's better than a song that's catchy, has simple lyrics and incorporates simple movements to keep the kids engaged. I present to you the Zimbole song. The video shows kids from all over the world performing it and I must say that it gives me hope for the future. Enjoy!  Bye!

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