Note: These descriptions of new releases are sent in by the CMN members mentioned, but they may have been edited by Pass It On! staff for style, consistency, or length. The materials have not been reviewed. In addition to the sources listed, many recordings are available at local independent children’s book and record stores.
I CAN Children
SAVE ME (and Video of GISA)
Stephen Wandu and staff of I CAN
Imagine being thirteen years old. The village where you and your three younger brothers live is attacked by armed militia. You are at school when you first hear the crack of gunshots, and everyone runs, screaming. You are terrified. Your mother is away and you can’t find your father. You escape with your aunt, traveling for three days with no food and only the water you can find in streams.
This story of Moses, a South Sudanese refugee now living at the Bidibidi Refugee Camp in Uganda, is echoed the title song of I CAN’s new album Save Me. Save Me’s six songs are rooted in the South Sudan culture of music, Afro Zouk, and R & B. Song lyrics in English and African languages focus on peacebuilding and the call for unity and love among South Sudanese. It highlights the resilience and motivation of these children despite their difficulties. I CAN staff wrote the songs and refugee children perform them with some backup tracks by staff.
I CAN is a Community-Based Organization (CBO) that aims to engage unaccompanied refugee children in social and musical activities. I CAN’s aim is three-fold: to give refugee children meaning, purpose, and hope in their lives; to develop their skills and talents for the future; and to provide them with a voice to express their trauma and their desire for peace.
The album is available by donation through their website, www.icansouthsudan.com.
PELICAN PILOT: Songs About Florida
Katie Tolles, Pat Vittum, Garrett Sawyer
Pelican Pilot is a love project of discovering the wonders in Florida, including manatees, pelicans, sea horses, dolphins, armadillos, and ruddy turnstones. There are also songs about amazing kids in Florida who have changed their world, “They’ve Done It Again!,” and how syrup from Vermont made it to outer space from Cape Canaveral.
Dorothy sees this CD as a great travel companion. Some songs are easy singalongs for all ages, such as “Florida Morning Winds” and “Swift River Paddling Song,” and some are story-songs to inspire any age, like “Mary Manatee” and “Pelican Pilot.”
Pelican Pilot will be available at CD Baby soon!
Marsha and the Positrons
Positronic features fun, catchy, positive songs about science and how the world works. It’s the first full-band album by Marsha and the Positrons. This album is a follow-up to Marsha’s Gravity Vacation solo album, which contains songs in the same vein and was also produced by T. J. Lipple.
As a cognitive neuroscientist by training, Marsha loves all things science, and her songwriting tends toward science ideas. She says, “A lot of my songs have come from conversations with my own kids or my students, and because I’m a scientist, the answers to many questions often go in the direction of science. For the “Positrons” song, though, I felt like I owed grownups an easy explanation of what a positron is for those moments when their little ones ask what our band name means! Spoiler alert: it’s a particle that hasn’t been traditionally covered in science class.” Marsha fact-checked her song with two NASA scientists to make sure that her distilling of the information was accurate for those little minds that absorb everything!
This album probably will resonate best with elementary-aged kids, but it’s really for all ages. Young children respond to the positive, upbeat nature of the music and enjoy following the dance suggestions in “Giant & Colossal Squid,” or flapping their wings like butterflies during “The Monarch Butterfly Song,” or jumping as they pretend to cross the street during “Now.” Interwoven throughout science topics are themes of friendship and kindness.
The album is available on CD Baby, Bandcamp, iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify.
Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Holidays: Songs and Stories that Celebrate Light
Katherine Dines, Jim Coffey
This global holiday album is for all ages. The fourteen songs and stories celebrate the coming of light as it shines through many holiday traditions: Diwali, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, Ramadan, and more. The added stories and historical facts give the album a timeless quality that is intended to bring hope to listeners.
Katherine was inspired to write this album because of her feeling that separations often occur as a result of the holidays. If there were more appreciation and understanding about them, perhaps the songs and stories would help unite people of all beliefs. We could celebrate that we are all one on this planet under the same light that comes from the sun, moon, and stars.
The talented Jim Coffey worked diligently and fearlessly on this album—even purchasing software to create specific instrumental sounds and bringing his amazing ears and engineering skills to every single song. Katherine writes: “I also rewrote and re-recorded CMN member Nancy Stewart’s lovely song ‘Ramadan,’ which I hadn’t been able to get out of my head since the first time I heard it. Thank you Jim and Nancy!”
Available from Katherine’s website, iTunes, CDBaby, songsforteaching.com, Little Songbird.com, amazon.com, and other digital platforms.