NAPPA Winners Reflect Musicís New Wave

Tor HyamsBy Tor Hyams

We are Witnessing History.

Every decade or so, a new genre pushes its way to the surface of musical history – the punk explosion in the ‘70s, new wave in the ‘80s, grunge in the ‘90s. Today, we are seeing the rapid proliferation of a new genre: family music.

Formerly known as “children’s music,” family music is the fastest growing (and selling) genre of music in the world. Thinking back to the ’80s and the early days of kid-centric music, we remember Raffi, Peter Yarrow and the occasional compilation album, such as Marlo Thomas’ Free to Be You and Me. As the “love children” of the ’60s (who had grown up on The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix) became parents, they needed something more … and some of them picked up their guitars, plucked a few keys and started writing songs. Today, we see thousands of albums released annually by everyone from former rock stars to punk rock moms.

New Genre of Family Music

This new genre of family music has a wide variety of sounds and influences (everything from rap to country, indie rock to jazz), but shares some essential ingredients: parental love, creative passion, positive messages, humor, fun, and sophisticated music. Family music speaks to children as full members of society without patronizing. When accomplished musicians create music for families, they deliver an album that’s easy on your ears as your child asks to play it over and over – and to which you’ll sing along, too.

Aventura CollageThese 2009 NAPPA-winning artists make music with a message for all your family members: what is communicated to adults is just as important as what the kids get out of it. Whether the songs are about using your imagination (My Trampoline by Peter Himmelman) or are eco-conscious (Aventura Collage by Mariana Iranzi), the commonalities are clear. Whether you’re looking for music that crosses generations and makes you get up and dance (SoulvilleSoulville from Little Monster Records) or lulls you to sleep (Songs from the Garden of Eden by Secret Mountain), the music’s positive messages and lessons about life make these winning titles rise to the top of their genre.

Children crave positive reinforcement and inspiring messages, such as treating others with kindness and respect. They respond enthusiastically when encouragement is delivered in a medium that is also fun to sing and dance to. If we give kids something to think about, their minds absorb it. If we treat them with respect, their hearts listen. If we make it enjoyable, they remember the lessons therein.

By providing children with rich and diverse entertainment that feeds their minds, we challenge and inspire them. This is the goal of our NAPPA-winning artists, who have achieved this goal through uplifting fun activities, playful lyrics and original music. Who could ask for more?

Tor Hyams is a record producer, co-founder of Kidzapalooza and NAPPA’s newest music judge, who will be working alongside veteran music judge John Wood. Find out more about Tor, his interests and accomplishments at and

Tune in to all the 2009 NAPPA Award Music Winners!