Welcome to the Village

Music review by
Kim Alessi, Common Sense Media
Welcome to the Village Music Poster Image
Worldly mix of inviting, bouncy, feel-good songs for all.

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The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Educational Value

Some songs expose listeners to traditional music and language from Africa. Many songs invite listeners to participate through call-and-response and action-oriented lyrics: "Che Che Cole" is a Ghana's "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes." Other songs involve logic and wordplay: "Man Gave Names" is loaded with riddles and rhyming; "Copy Cat Scat" imitates fun musical sounds and rhythms.

Positive Messages

An album full of positivity and inspiration: Satchmo's "What a Wonderful World," The Beatles' "Mother Nature's Son," Marley's "One Love," and Smith's original "Grateful" encourage us to appreciate the world around us. From "Grateful:" "What will today bring / If I open my eyes / It's nature's surprise / That can make my heart sing." Nigeria's traditional morning greeting, "Fanga Alafia," is heartening: "Welcome, we wish you peace / Welcome to the village / Share a song with me." 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Two standout reggae tunes inspire: "In a Book" promotes literacy: "It's in a book / Take a look / This really cooks / I think I'm hooked." Jewel's "Hands" encourages confidence and compassion: "My hands are small, I know / But they're not yours, they are my own / And I am never broken / In the end, only kindness matters." The South African hymn, "Siyahamba" (Zulu for "We Are Marching"), is a song of divine reverence: "We are marching in the Light of God."

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

Children's musical artists Dan Zanes, Laurie Berkner, Lucky Diaz, and kid hip-hoppers Secret Agent 23 Skidoo appear on a cover of the Bob Dylan classic "Man Gave Names." Zanes also appears on "Grateful." A portion of the proceeds from this album help build a music program at the Cura Orphanage in Kenya; Volkswagon and Hilton Hotels are among title sponsor of this project, funding Smith's travel and CD production costs.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Welcome to the Village is a wonderful and inviting collection of original, traditional African and Caribbean songs and various cover tunes (from Bob Dylan, Jewel, the Beatles, Bob Marley, and Louis Armstrong) performed by children's music performer/educator Aaron Nigel Smith and the One World Children's Chorus. More than 300 children from across the United States and Kenya, and a few guest artists, lend voices to draw you in, get you up, and lift your heart. (Proceeds from the sale of this CD help fund a music program at the Cura Orphange in Kenya for children who lost their parents to AIDS.)

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What's the story?

Aaron Nigel Smith began performing in choirs at the age of 10. Since then, he's become an award-winning songwriter and performer known also for his appearances on the PBS Kids show and touring group, "Between the Lions." What's more, Smith is an innovative teacher and founder of successful arts education programs in the United States and Kenya. WELCOME TO THE VILLAGE, Smith's third album, was recorded with the help of the One World Children's Chorus, a collection of over 300 children in the U.S. and Kenya. A portion of proceeds from this album benefit the children of the Cura Orphanage in Kenya. Guest artists Dan Zanes, Laurie Berkner, Lucky Diaz, and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo also perform on this CD.

Is it any good?

Welcome to the Village is a wonderful collection of groovy, interactive songs teeming with positive energy and inspiring messages. This eclectic mix brings the world a little closer and invites everyone to participate. Standout tracks include "Funga Alafia," "Che Che Cole" and "Siyahamba" (their repetitive lyrics make for easy singing), as well as "Grateful," "One Love," "Copy Cat Scat," "Man Gave Names," and "In a Book."  The only odd tune out is "Sound the Trumpet," a Baroque-style song with vocal counterpoint that's cluttered and confusing to little ears.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it's like learning a song in a different language. Is it easier when the lyrics are repetitive and fun to say? 


  • How can music help us learn about other cultures?  Can music make the world feel a little smaller?


  • This album features a choir from Kenya's Cura Orphanage for children who lost their parents to AIDS. Does this music help you feel a connection to the Cura community and other kids' choirs around the world?

Music details

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