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Cool Tunes for Catholic Kids
Catholic Music for Catholic Children
By Lisa M. Hendey

Catholic Music Network Your ten year old wants an iPod for her birthday, the baby’s crying in the bedroom next door and you’re stressed out about the lack of time you’ve given lately to the faith formation of your family. What’s a Catholic parent to do? Don’t worry, thanks to several talented and faith filled Catholic musicians, there are now outstanding musical options that are guaranteed to please both the young and the young at heart.

In today’s music industry, the sale of children’s selections has risen dramatically in the past ten years. Music groups like The Wiggles release CDs and sell out tours internationally. Catholic musicians, recognizing trends and an opportunity to catechize in a way that is sure to grab kids’ attention, are following suit with tremendous results.

New Releases

Of the great Catholic music CDs that I’ve reviewed in the past six months, two were specifically created for the Catholic children’s market.

Your Grace is Enough is the debut project by Catholic Kids Worship and the non-profit Catholic music ministry Christ Music. Executive Producer Natalie Burt teamed with talented musician Martin Doman with the vision of creating “upbeat rockin’ worship songs for today’s modern youth”. Guest artists Doman, Chris Padgett, Sarah Bauer and Katie Rose lend great renditions of favorite worship tunes, but the true stars of this CD are the kids. Catholic Kids Worship, a group comprised of ten to fourteen year old musicians from two parishes in South Carolina, really give heart to the twelve tracks featured on Your Grace is Enough. Soloist Emma Dudek gets things rolling with her heart-filled rendition of the title track. This song, for me, typifies what draws me to the CD. The songs are largely sung by the kids themselves, except for those where they accompany guest artists. Your children will hear child-like (but never childish) versions of classic worship songs with a distinctly Catholic flavor. I found it incredibly hard not to sing along with the CD, and most times I listened I found myself belting out the tunes right along with the kids. The selections range from the rockin’ flavor of songs like “Salt and Light” and the anthem “Open Up the Gates” (featuring Chris Padgett) to stirring ballads such as “Heal Our Nation” and my personal favorite “Oh How You Love Me” featuring incredible vocals by Katie Rose. “Bread of Life” and “Queen of Peace, Pray for Us” underscore the Catholocity which is at the core of Your Grace is Enough. Don’t be fooled by the fact that Your Grace is Enough is targeted at the youth audience. This is music your entire family will love and be inspired by. I’d say that both the creators and the Catholic Kids Worship artists have created real magic with this project. I can’t wait to hear their next CD!

Also recently released is the incredible Standin’ On The Rock by Mike Harrison. Of the thirteen tracks on this project, twelve are Harrison originals. Harrison gets talented Catholic kids in on the act, as well as guest performances by Greg Walton, Crossed Hearts, Sal Solo, Joy Curry, and Annie Waugh. The flavors of Standin’ On The Rock are many and varied, but always appealing. In one moment, the Sal Solo leads the kids in singing “I Will Exalt”, with its great Hebrew flavor, including a touching recitation of a traditional Jewish blessing. In the next, we hear voices uplifted and accompanied by tin whistle and bodhran on “Jesus Come Soon”. Kids will love singing along with Greg Walton on the fun opening track “Great God” and with Annie Waugh on the sing-along “Jesus is a Knockin’” with it’s down-home country flavor.

I predict that most of the boys listening to Standin’ On The Rock will love "St. Michael" with Sal Solo’s entrancing take on the classic prayer to St. Michael. This is an example of the virtue of Catholic kids music – your children will be entertained, and will learn a vital prayer in the process. Greg Walton and the kids’ take on the title track “Standin’ On The Rock” reminded me of the wonderful scene at the conclusion of the movie School of Rock when Jack Black is jamming with the kids at the after school program – great music, kids rocking out, and just pure fun. You’ll note the big departure from that scene, however, when you suddenly hear your kids, and perhaps yourself, chanting loudly “One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic!”. There’s so much more to Standin’ On The Rock, including “Blessed Be”, a rap based on Daniel 3, the techno-ish “We Believe in Jesus”, and Joy Curry’s beautiful ballad True Love inspired by God’s gift of love to us in the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. An ending bonus is “New Creation”, a smooth jazz featuring

The production quality and musicality of Standin’ On The Rock makes this a CD that adults can truly enjoy along with their children. Beyond this, and probably more importantly, your kids have a blast rockin’ out with Mike Harrison and his buddies and will want to hear the CD time and again – giving the added benefit of faith lessons with each listening.

Tried and True

For the past several years, Catholic musicians have been at work creating great songs for Catholic children.

Sharmane Adams’ Prayerful Hearts is an eleven track collection of traditional Catholic prayers, written in song. I especially loved this CD when my children were at the age of preparing to receive the Sacraments, as it was a special way to aid in their faith formation. Sharmane’s vocals on this project are truly beautiful.

Catholic artist and mother of four Joanne Oberreuter created the CD Dandelions to help parents teach their children the truths of the Catholic faith in the home setting. Oberreuter manages, through songs such as “Mary, Woman of Faith” and “Jesus, Life Water, to convey profound concepts with great simplicity and purity of hearts.

Though they are growing up more and more, Catholic recording artists Angelina and Cousins in Christ have created projects that will appeal to both children and their parents. From Cousins in Christ’s Tiny Feet, Precious Hands filled with precious lullabies to Angelina’s wonderful project Songs of the Faithful, there’s something for everyone from these talented Catholic youths.

Moving beyond just songs, there are great catechetical audio options for Catholic families. Two of the best are Cat.Chat and Glory Stories. I love Cat.Chat for its smart sense of humor and the incredible tunes. The series is dogmatically sound, creative, entertaining and fun. The target demographic for Cat.Chat is children between the ages of 3 and eleven but parents will also learn from and love Moses the talking cat and his family of friends.

Finally, new out this summer is a great CD from the “Growing with the Saints” Catholic Vacation Bible School. Your children will love singing along with the St. Patrick and the Holy Trinity CD, which encourages young ones to be the “BEST they can be”.

So go ahead, Mom and Dad, invest in that MP3 player for your child and know that you will be able to fill it with great age appropriate music that will inform and inspire your child on his or her faith journey. You’ll find that you love the music as much as your kids and that you will all learn and grow with this great new trend in Catholic music.

Lisa M. Hendey is webmaster of www.CatholicMom.com , a wife and mother of two and a Catholic music fan and supporter.  Visit her at www.LisaHendey.com for more information.
 

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