What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the album provides cultural and social lessons, with an emphasis on counting and language. For example, travel to the other side of the globe with two songs from Africa, each sung in the vocal style of its country. There is a counting song in five parts/languages sprinkled throughout the album. Even the traditional spiritual "Little David Play on Your Harp" has new lyrics that teach counting.
What's the story?
Sweet Honey in the Rock is an a cappella group made up of six African American women, including a sign language interpreter. They create music to educate. Plus, as usual, on GOT SHOES they offer beautifully harmonized vocals and rich textures that entrance the listener. While all of their albums provide cultural and social lessons, this one focuses on numbers and language. Children's ears will prick up as they recognize \"African Numbers\" from \"Sesame Street.\" Parents can create fun lessons by having children look at or write numbers while listening. And listeners get to practice their English, Swahili, French, Spanish, and Japanese. Though not Sweet Honey's best album, this -- along with their superior, more unified children's recording, All for Freedom -- will add some worldly seasoning to your family's listening.
Is it any good?
This album devotes time to lessons but falls short in the overall planning as an album. Truly wonderful tracks (especially the alluring "Down the Road I Be Going") are lost in a hodgepodge of themes and styles -- the album is literally all over the map. One minute it's a counting song, then a love song, followed by a spiritual, rap, lullaby, and so on. The shifting rhythms and styles can affect the mood and make it hard to kick back and enjoy.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the underlying cultural lessons to be learned from music around the globe. For example, what are the important social messages conveyed in the poetic rap of "Young and Positive"? For a fun lesson, have children write numbers while listening.