Audiences Of All Ages Will “Feel Good” About The Bright Siders’ New Album

Coutesy: Smithsonian Folkways

Learning about feelings and how to handle them are among the most important aspects of every child’s personal growth.  That is because being able to navigate their feelings (and related thoughts) can be the difference between a happy, healthy childhood and some very troubled developmental years.  That is why there is so much content out there aimed at helping children and their parents make their way through the matter.  Family music entertainment act The Bright Siders is inserting itself into those discussions this week with its latest album A Mind of Your Own.  Scheduled for release Friday through Smithsonian Folkways, the 19-song record is its own effective way for families to talk about feelings and help children handle this aspect of their growth and development.  The lyrical themes that are presented in this record do their own part to support the noted statement.  They will be discussed.  The musical arrangements that accompany the record’s lyrical content adds its own appeal to the album and will be addressed a little later.  The record’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to this record’s presentation.  It will also be addressed later.  When it and the record’s content are noted collectively, the whole of A Mind of Your Own proves itself to be a positive presentation that will certainly appeal widely to families.

The Bright Siders’ new forthcoming album A Mind of Your Own is a presentation that parents and educators alike will find a highly useful tool in helping children in their emotional development.  This is proven in no small part through the record’s featured lyrical themes.  The themes in question address feelings and the thoughts that connect with those feelings.  What is important to note here is that the themes in question are not just about feeling happy or sad.  They go into more depth than that.  Case in point is the theme featured in the skit ‘New Kid’ and its companion song ‘Forever Friends.’  The pair addresses the feeling of insecurity that young people go through when a family moves, leading the children to start at a new school and navigate the waters of developing new friendship bonds.  This is not a joking matter.  It can be (and typically is) very emotionally stressful for young people.  The manner in which the topic was broached here is to be commended. 

Staying somewhat on the noted topic, the matter of overcoming insecurities and its relation to doing things that are difficult is also addressed in this record in the pairing of the skit ‘The Talent Show’ and its companion song ‘Oops! I Made a Mistake.’  The subject in the noted skit messes up in playing the piano and states that he will never play the piano again because of that one error.  From there, the song comes into play, reminding that subject and listeners in general that it is okay to make mistakes.  The song ends with the subject coming to terms with his mistake and realizing that mistakes happen.   

On yet another note, the group takes on the feeling of stress that often can and doe overwhelm young people in this album in the pairing of ‘Super Busy Kids’ and its companion song ‘Jumping Through Hoops.’  The skit and its companion song  reminds  young listeners that those  overwhelming times do happen, and that  they need to just remember to do the best they can in such situations because “in the end, you’ll come out the other side.”  This is a lesson of which every young person needs reminding.  They need that reassurance that no matter how stressful life can get and does get at times, it is important to know that those stressful moments are only temporary.  This is one more way in which this album’s lyrical content proves its importance.  When this and the other noted themes presented in this album along with the more commonly addressed topics, the whole of the album’s lyrical content forms a strong foundation for the album.  Building on that foundation and making the album even more appealing is the musical content that accompanies the album’s lyrical content. 

The musical content that is featured in A Mind of Your Own is notable due to its diversity.  From start to end, the album features a relatively wide range of stylistic approaches.  It opens with a soulful, funky style work in ‘The Song About Songs’ before giving way to a work in ‘The Mad Day’ that blends elements of reggae and even some Cajun.  It sounds like an odd combination, but the balance of the influences is handled expertly here. As the album progresses, its musical arrangements continue their constant change. ‘Vamos a Jugar (Let’s Go Play)’ for instance presents a light Hispanic influence.  The subtlety here is so welcome.  It would have been so easy for the group to go all out and over the top here, but didn’t go that route.  The result is an arrangement that not only again continues that variance in the record’s musical stylings, but also shows a certain respect to the Hispanic community by not going all out.  As if that is not enough, things take yet another turn in ‘Jumping Through Hoops,’ which offers up a fun, light country/bluegrass composition.  The variety does not end there, either.  The anti-bullying anthem ‘Bully  This’ gives audiences a touch of garage punk style music, showing even more the album’s musical diversity.  Simply put, between this song’s arrangement, the others noted here and those of the rest of the album’s songs, this album offers just as much to appreciate from its musical presentation as from its lyrical presentation.  Even with all of this in mind, there is still at least one more item to address in examining A Mind of Your Own.  That remaining item is the album’s sequencing.

The sequencing of The Bright Siders’ new album is important because it is this aspect that is responsible for ensuring the record’s content keeps listeners engaged and entertained.  As already noted, the album’s musical stylings are varied throughout the course of its 38-minute run time.  Thanks to the sequencing, that variance keeps things interesting for audiences from beginning to end.  The album never sticks too long to one style of song.  At the same time, the record’s energy rises and falls at all of the right moments, hitting the more energetic moments and more reserved moments at all of the right points.  Adding even more to the discussion here is that the sequencing keeps the album’s lyrical themes just as varied as its musical content.  Listeners are taken on a lyrical journey that covers such a wide range of feelings and thoughts.  All things considered here, the sequencing of The Bright Siders’ new album proves just as important as the album’s content.  It ensures the content featured here keeps listeners engaged just as much as the album’s content itself.  When all of this is considered together, the album proves itself another early candidate for a spot on this year’s list of top new family music albums.

The Bright Siders’ new album A Mind of Your Own is a successful new entry from the family music collective that will appeal widely to audiences of all ages.  That is proven in part through its lyrical content, which directly addresses the myriad feelings, emotions and thoughts that children feel as they grow and develop emotionally and mentally.  The lyrical content that fills out the album’s body adds even more to the record’s appeal because it is as diverse as the record’s lyrical themes.  The sequencing of the noted content puts the finishing touch to the album’s presentation, brining everything full circle and completing the album’s presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record.  All things considered, they make A Mind of Your Own a record that deserves its own place on any critic’s list of the year’s top new family music albums.  A Mind of Your Own is available along with all of the latest news from The Bright Siders at:




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Come Bien Is One Of This Year’s Year’s Most Original, Important New Children’s Albums

Courtesy:  Smithsonian Folkways

Courtesy: Smithsonian Folkways

Childhood health is a major hot button issue in America today. So many measures have been taken through the past decade or so in an effort to get America’s children to eat better and move more. While some of those measures have proven at east somewhat effective, others have of course been anything but. Now with his latest album, Come Bien/Eat Well, children’s entertainer Jose Luis-Orozco has given parents and educators alike a new tool in the battle for the health and well-being of America’s children. The main way in which it proves itself such an effective tool is the fact that it isn’t preachy about the subject of eating right from beginning to end. That is something that so many of those more ineffective measures have gotten wrong in their efforts to promote healthy lifestyles among children. It will be discussed at more length shortly. The presentation of the album’s songs in both Spanish and English is another major positive to the album’s overall presentation. Its bilingual presentation dramatically increases the odds of its pro-healthy message reaching not just one specific target audience but multiple audiences. Last but hardly least worth noting of the album’s positives is the bilingual presentation of the album’s lyrics in the album’s companion booklet. It takes the foundation established by the dual presentation of the songs in themselves and solidifies that foundation even more, making this record complete and a completely surefire success in the ongoing battle for children’s health.

Come Bien/Eat Right is one of the most important new children’s music offerings to be released so far this year. The central reason for its importance is the fact that it directly presents itself not so much as just another children’s album but one of so many tools currently being used in the ongoing battle for the health of America’s children. What sets it apart from those other tools is that it actually proves itself to be an effective tool in that battle. it proves itself to be such an effective tool because it doesn’t try to preach to its target audiences. It isn’t one of those cheap, cheesy presentations that sees its presenter singing about moving around and eating a little of this and a little of that. Rather it promotes healthy eating just by singing about the different great-tasting foods that are out there. ‘The Fruit Conga’ is a prime example of what makes this approach so effective. Luis-Orozco sings in this song about all of the great-tasting fruits that are out there including: strawberries, bananas, apples, grapes, and pineapples just to name a handful. He sings the song against a fun, up-tempo musical backing that will have young listeners more focused on the music than the song’s lyrical content. In turn, the lyrical content will sink in in a more subliminal fashion, thus encouraging chidlren to try said fruits without even realizing that they have have been encouraged to do so. That is extremely smart writing on the part of Luis-Orozco. What’s more such a song could be used to replace the music for a cake walk at all of the upcoming Halloween festivities, and in turn said collections of fruit in place of the typical pastries. Proper eating habits are the center of Luis-Orozco’s new album. However, they aren’t all that he promotes throughout the course of the album’s body. There is also a note about proper hygiene in the song ‘Clean Hands.’ Luis-Orozco sings about a puppet who likes to wash his hands. Luis-Orozco avoids being preachy just as much here as in any of the album’s other songs. Rather his playful story about the puppet named Pimpon is another way in which he takes advantage of children’s habit of modeling to subliminally get his young audiences to do the same. It is yet another way in which the songs and their delivery prove so important to the whole of the album’s presentation. ‘Water’ is one more example of how the songs and their approach are so pivotal to the album’s ultimate outcome. Once more, Luis-Orozco wholly avoids preaching to his young audiences, opting instead to boast the benefits of drinking water instead of sugary, calorie-filled drinks. There is no direct mention of said drinks anywhere in the song. But it goes without saying that the lack of mention is just as powerful as its use. It is one more way in which the songs that make up Come Bien/Eat Right and their approach prove to be so important to the whole of the album. They are hardly the only elements that make this album such a worthwhile listen either. The presentation of the songs in both Spanish and English is just as important to its presentation as the songs themselves.

The songs that make up the body of Come Bien/Eat Right and Luis-Orozco’s approach within each composition are quite important in their own right to the overall presentation of his new album. While being so important to the whole of the album’s presentation, the presentation of the songs in both Spanish and English is just as important as the songs themselves. Luis-Orozco is not the first artist to take this approach to a children’s album or even any album in general. Fellow children’s entertainers Future Hits took the same approach on their most recent release Today is Forever. That album was releaed earlier this year. Getting back on the topic at hand, the presentation of the album’s songs in both Spanish and English is so important simply in that it dramatically broadens the album’s audience base. The songs are presented first in Spanish and then again in English for a total of thirty-eight tracks. Being directly separated out, it means Spanish teachers and English teachers alike will know precisely which track(s) to use in teaching their lessons on healthy eating. That is especially the case being that the complete track listing is noted on the back of the album’s case. That full listing partnered with the songs’ bilingual presentation adds even more interest to this record but is still not all that makes it such an interesting collection of songs. The presentation of the songs’ lyrics in both Spanish and English within the album’s companion booklet round out the album’s overall presentation and make it a whole that both educators and parents alike will enjoy.

The presentation of Come Bien/Eat Right’s lyrics both in Spanish and English within the album’s companion booklet is just as important to the whole of the album as the songs (and Luis-Orozco’s approach to each composition) and the dual presentation of the songs themselves. It takes the foundation established through the songs’ bilingual approach and solidifies it by clearly separating the songs’ Spanish and English translations into two distinct sections to make one whole. It is interesting to note that the translations are both right side up within the pages of the booklet. It’s just that while one is right side up, the other is upside down. So depending on which translation one wants, all one has to do is turn said side right side up. It’s almost as if the people at Smithsonian Folkways decided to be a little playful with the booklet considering such presentation. And as subtle and minor as it is within the grand scheme of the album’s presentation, it is still just noticeable enough that it will put a smile on any listener’s face in its own right. The smile in question, coupled with the smiles generated by the songs and their distinct separation proves the album in the end to be one of the most important and original children’s albums to be released so far this year.

Come Bien/Eat Right is one of the most important and original children’s albums to be released so far this year. This is the case primarily because of the songs that make up the body of the album and their overall stylistic approach. The presentation of the songs in both Spanish and English within the album and its booklet together round out the album’s presentation. Each element is just as important as the others in examining each one. Collectively they make Come Bien/Eat Right, again, one of the most important and original children’s albums to be released so far this year. It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered online direct from Jose Luis-Orozco’s official website at More information on this and other releases from Jose Luis-Orozco is available online now along with all of his latest news and more at:




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Jenkins’ New Album Is An Invaluable Teaching Tool For Parents And Educators Alike

Courtesy: Smithsonian Folkways

Courtesy: Smithsonian Folkways

Ella Jenkins’ released her second full length compilation of multicultural songs last month.  The album, More Multicultural Songs from Ella Jenkins, is another wonderful teaching too whether it is being used in the classroom or the living room.  The album collects twenty songs from Jenkins’ previous albums to form a compilation that teaches not only cultural diversity but geography and even basic language studies, too.  As Jenkins herself notes in the compilation’s companion liner notes, the reasoning behind the compilation’s creation was the growing cultural diversity not just around the world but within America’s very own cities and small towns.  She also notes that children are far more aware of that diversity now more than ever.  So what better reason for Jenkins to assemble this record and what better time than in a time of so much growth and change in America and around the globe?  Whether it be for mini geography lesson in ‘I’m Going To Cairo,’ the basic foreign language lesson that is ‘Count From One to Ten’ or the lesson about Jewish culture in ‘My Little Blue Dreidel’ More Multicultural Songs from Ella Jenkins has something for everyone and then some from start to finish.  Collectively, these songs and those not mentioned collectively make Jenkins’ new record one that any parent and educator will appreciate as much as its younger audiences.

Ella Jenkins teaches quite the lesson on cultural diversity throughout the nearly two dozen tracks chosen to be included on More Multicultural Songs from Ella Jenkins.  Along with those lessons on cultural diversity, she also teaches an enjoyable and basic lesson on geography.  That lesson is taught early on in the record in the form of the song ‘I’m going To Cairo.’  It’s in this song that Jenkins teaches her audiences that while a city or town may be spelled the same in different regions that does not necessarily mean that they are pronounced the same from one region to another.  As the title alludes, the first example of this difference in pronunciation comes in the form of Cairo.  She writes in this song, “I’m going to Cairo [KIGH-roh]/Cairo, Egypt/I’m going to Cairo [KAY-roh]/Cairo, Illinois.””  She goes on to write of the different pronunciations of both Lima and Toledo, pointing out how the two are pronounced completely differently around the world.  From Lima [Lee-mah], Peru to Lima [LIGH-mah], Ohio and from Toledo [toh-LEH-doh], Spain to Toledo [toh-LEE-doh], Ohio, Jenkins points out to her audiences that what they know as right isn’t necessarily right in other parts of the country or even the world.  It’s both an effective basic geography lesson for audiences of all ages, but one that is just as effective in teaching cultural diversity.  It does so on a level that young audiences can understand with ease.  It’s just one of so many songs that makes More Multicultural Songs from Ella Jenkins so enjoyable for audiences of all ages.

‘I’m Going to Cairo’ is a wonderful example of what makes More Multicultural Songs from Ella Jenkins a joy for audiences of all ages.  It teaches not just cultural diversity, but also a basic geography lesson, too.  Just as welcome on this record is the language lesson that lies in ‘Count From One to Ten.’  This song is the longest of all the pieces included on Jenkins’ new compilation.  It comes in at just under the nine minute mark.  To be more precise, it clocks in at eight minutes and forty seconds total.  As long as it is, it is still another great addition to the record.  That is because of the sheer depth of the lesson even as basic as the lesson proves to be.  Jenkins take the basic lesson of counting from one to ten as the basis for the song.  From there, she goes on to teach listeners how to count from one to ten in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Hebrew, Japanese, Greek, and English.  It seems like a lot on the surface.  But it’s important to get children started as early as possible learning other languages, even if it’s with something as simple as counting from one to ten.  The longer children wait to learn, the more difficult it is for them to learn and even want to learn foreign languages as they get older.  Understanding the importance of getting children started on the path of learning foreign language early on makes this song all the more important of an addition to the record despite its length.  One could even argue that considering this argument, it becomes one of the most important of all of the record’s song in the long run.

Ella Jenkins teaches some extremely important and valuable lessons on geography, language and cultural diversity through the course of both ‘I’m Going to Cairo’ and ‘Count From One to Ten.’  Both songs play their own key role in the success of this recently released album.  Listeners could also argue that ‘My little Blue Dreidel’ is just as important to the overall enjoyment and success of this compilation.  It is through this song that Jenkins teaches listeners about one of the most well-known items in Jewish culture—the dreidel.  This is not the song with which most listeners might think of in reading this song’s title.  That is a completely different song.  This song is far shorter.  It is a simple song that presents the joy felt by young children as they spin the toy.  She sings in this song, “My little blue dreidel/Spins morning, night, and noon/And each time it spins/it spins a happy tune.”  It’s so simple lyrically speaking.  But that simplicity works so well, especially set against the song’s equally simple musical backing.  Jenkins sings by herself and plays what sounds like her ukulele in time.  Such simplicity makes this song one more wonderful addition to the album’s overall musical picture and its lesson.

The songs noted here comprise just a small glimpse into what makes More Multicultural Songs from Ella Jenkins another invaluable addition to educators and parents alike.  Those songs not mentioned each add their own value to the album’s overall presentation in their own way.  From her musical trip to China to her trip up to our neighbors to the north in Canada and even down under, Jenkins offers listeners glimpses into so many different peoples and cultures throughout this record.  Teachers and parents can all take that musical multicultural ride around the world now with younger listeners as the compilation is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct now from the Smithsonian Folkways website at  Jenkins currently has no live performances scheduled.  But audiences can find out when they’ll get to hear all of these songs and many more online through her website, and  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Jenkins’ Latest Compilation LP A Wonderful Tool For Teachers

Courtesy:  Smithsonian Folkways

Courtesy: Smithsonian Folkways

Mick Jagger and his band mates in The Rolling Stones have been entertaining audiences for over half a century.  Aerosmith has been going near as long.  And others are right up in those same leagues, too.  But none of those artists and bands in question can say that they’re at the level of one Ella Jenkins.  “The First Lady of Children’s Music” as she is affectionately known by her fellow artists is ninety-years old.  And now at ninety-years old, Jenkins has a new “hits” compilation of sorts set to be released.  123s and ABCs will be released next Tuesday, January 28th.  The compilation collects pieces that Jenkins has included in previous recordings.  The recordings in question are more proof of what makes children’s recordings in question so interesting and enjoyable to review.  Simply put, none of the pieces included on this record are anything like anything recorded by any other children’s entertainer to date.

The songs culled for 123s and ABCs are unlike anything recorded by any other children’s entertainer to date.  That is an especially powerful statement considering that the tracks presented here are pulled from Jenkins’ previous recordings.  While she does directly speak to young listeners at times, she seems to spend more time talking to children with whom she recorded the respective pieces.  This focus less on listeners makes 123s and ABCs more a tool for teachers of young listeners.  Some might see this as a bad think.  But in reality, it takes nothing away from this compilation.  It helps give preschool and kindergarten teachers plenty of ideas for their own students in many cases.  One of the best examples of this is in Jenkins’ teaching of the numbers one through ten in both Spanish and Swahili.

In the cases of ‘Counting from One to Ten in Spanish’ and ‘Counting in Swahili’, Jenkins is teaching a group of young children already in attendance how to count to ten in both languages.  She uses a call and response format in order to keep the terms fresh in her listeners’ minds.  This is quite a smart teaching method.  Teachers could easily adapt the prior of the pair for their own classrooms and use it as the beginning of a more extended lesson on basic Spanish.  Considering the push for students to learn foreign languages, what better time to get students started than in their most pivotal developmental years?  In the case of ‘Counting in Swahili’, even adults will enjoy this short lesson.  That is because far fewer Americans have knowledge of even basic Swahili than do those with basic knowledge and comprehension of Spanish.  Keeping this in mind, ‘Counting in Swahili’ could be a wonderful chance for parents and their children to learn together.  It could also be just as effective a tool for a basic cultural lesson about native speakers of Swahili.  It serves to make this compilation all the more enjoyable for teachers, students, and children in general.

‘Counting in Swahili’ is a hugely effective song for teachers.  As noted, it can serve as a basic introduction to a rarely taught foreign language.  It also could serve as a window to a much more in-depth cultural lesson for younger listeners and students.  Much the same can be noted of ‘The Rabbi Teaches ABCs/English ABC Song.’  This hybrid piece opens with violist Arnold Radel performing a traditional Jewish composition.  He follows this by explaining how children learned their ABCs in Yiddish in the cold winter months, no source of heat in their homes save for a fire in the stoves in their kitchens.  This vivid description alone makes Radel’s performance even more hard hitting.  One can actually close one’s eyes, and see this scene, Radel’s music as a bed.  Whether one has any comprehension of Yiddish or not, this song could be a great stepping stone for those that might end up developing an interest in the language or even the culture of those that speak the language.  It’s one more example of the kind of material that makes 123s and ABCs such an interesting compilation of songs.  Teachers and parents are offered plenty more ingenious ideas how to teach young listeners the basics throughout the course of the compilation’s sixteen total songs.  123s and ABCs can be ordered online via Amazon at  More information on Jenkins and her releases is available online at and  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at