Sound Off!

Zanes and Harley Deserve Grammies

by Kathy O’Connell

Congratulations to Dan Zanes (and friends) for winning the Best Music for Children category at the 2007 Grammy Awards with Catch That Train. Kudos also go to Bill Harley for winning in the Spoken Word for Children category with Blah Blah Blah.

Every kid’s recorded library deserves a few gems from these outstanding artists. Both Zanes and Harley have been good friends of kids’ entertainment over the years, and it’s wonderful to see them getting recognition. Even as Zanes’ popularity grows with television exposure, he remains dedicated to his mission of encouraging families to share music together. Train-crazy kids and adults will enjoy the infectious fun of Catch That Train. You can find it at

Bill Harley contributes his genius to many forms of family entertainment. His Grammy win only scrapes the surface of what he brings to the table. His website introduces you to his songs, storytelling, and classroom programs for kids and teachers.

Harley’s new musical CD, I Wanna Play, sparkles with wit and insight that he brings to all his work.

The title song laments the tradition of choosing sides in the schoolyard, especially with only 20 minutes for recess. “Barbie’s Head is Missing” brings home the fear of any little brother messing with his sister’s toys. Bill Harley is a grownup who never loses touch with his inner child.

‘Aminals’ for 8 & Younger
You might be witnessing the birth of the next Zanes, Harley, or Trout (Fishing in America) when you check out some new artists making their mark in music for families. Recess Monkey breaks into the field with Aminal House. Yes, it’s “Aminal,” not “Animal.”

The Sgt. Pepper-inspired cover packages a near-perfect CD for the younger rockers in the house. This animal-themed CD sings about “Fred (the tabby cat),” takes a trip to the “Aquarium,” praises “KC (he’s a fine dog),” and keeps everything on a level perfect for the 8 and under set. Imagine three of your favorite goofy boys, and you’ve imagined this playful trio. You’ll find them at

Big Energy
Finding music for young girls who don’t fall into the “princess music” demographic can be a challenge. Luckily AudraRox appeals to the same young crowd who will enjoy Recess Monkey’s music.

AudraRox, Audra Tsanos’ alter ego, has expanded beyond her New York audiences to hit TV’s Noggin with her delicious blues and rock mix.

The title track for her new CD, I Can Do It By Myself, is a declaration of independence. “Everybody’s Having More Fun” travels seamlessly between 50s rock and lounge act blues. “I’m Tired” turns into a litany of whines (“my sister kept crying all night”) any kid will appreciate.

While some family artists sing about unicorns and rainbows, AudraRox paints a real-life world with “Sugar High” and “All My Toys Are Broken.” Just when you might pigeonhole her as relentlessly rocking, she comes up with the lovely “Beautiful Land” to describe colors (“indigo is the color of a Siamese cat’s eyes”). Find this energetic musical performer at

Kathy O’Connell is a contributing writer to MetroKids and host of the Peabody-award-winning Kids Corner, weekdays 7-8pm on WXPN 88.5 FM.