Time to celebrate Children's music

VICKI ANDERSON
Last updated 12:27 18/07/2014
Anika Moa
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UP FOR A PRIZE: Anika Moa is nominated for Children's Song of the Year with her song Colours are Beautiful.

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The Children's Music Awards celebrate music written for Kiwi kids. For the first time they will be presented live on What Now on Sunday. 

The Children's Music Awards celebrate the storytellers, the rhymers, the singers and groovers who write and perform the songs that ignite a love for music in New Zealand children.

There's no doubt music universally brings joy and plays a pivotal role in our children's lives, spinning their stories and swaying their souls.

The Children's Music Awards for song, video and album include entries from some of our children's favourites alongside artists better known on mainstream radiowaves.

"I love the Children's Awards, they're the most fun category," says Anthony Healey, head of the Australasian Performing Rights Association (Apra).

"This year it's so diverse - we have children's storybook heroes up against real life pop stars. It's all great music that lights up little faces and gets toes tapping, little and big."

The finalists in the 2014 Children's Music Awards fall into three categories - Song, Video and Album.

Vying for Children's Song of the Year is Anika Moa with her song Colours are Beautiful, Robin Christie with Dad Can't Cook and Levity Beet with Piranha.

This year's Children's Video of the Year included audience voting through whatnow.tv. Finalists are: Baking video by Poppet Stars (performed by You!, written by Jason Smith and Belinda Simpson); Dragons Under My Bed video by Aimee Herd (performed and written by Kath Bee) and Senses video by Poppet Stars (performed by You!, written by Jason Smith and Belinda Simpson).

The finalists in the Best Children's Music Album (NZ Music Awards Tui) category includes: Anika Moa - Songs For Bubbas; Hayley Westenra - Hushabye and Roger Lusby - Magical Places.

Damian Vaughan, chief executive of Recorded Music NZ, says he is pleased to see New Zealand's children's music go from "strength to strength".

"There is a real wealth of extraordinary talent here. Our finalists this year make music fun, benefiting kids and their parents alike."

For the first time the awards will be presented by former Opshop frontman Jason Kerrison live on TV2's What Now show on Sunday from 8am.

Moa is looking forward to the occasion.

"They are presenting the awards on What Now, it'll be lovely," Moa says.

"They are flying us down, it will be a bit of a whanau time."

This week the multi-award winning singer/songwriter launches a three date Canterbury tour with her friend, two-time Tui Award Mel Parsons, who is taking a break from the road over winter to write her third studio album after five months of touring in the United States and Australia.

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"Mel and I have been friends for a very long time, she is like family. We do our own songs then we do our own songs together, it's similar to what I've been doing with Benny and tours I have done with Julia Deans in the past."

The pair, who last shared a stage together last year for the Fly My Pretties tour, met through friends over 10 years ago.

"It's nice to do some Canterbury shows while we are both around," Parsons says. "It's good to do shows in winter. I'm writing for a new album at the moment."

Moa hasn't played in Springfield before.

"It'll be interesting to see the crowd."

She has just finished her sixth album which is being mixed and mastered and is due for release later this year.

"The difference with this album is that there's only one acoustic track. It's mostly electric guitar and keyboards. It's experimental . . . and sounds a bit like Massive Attack.

"Next I'm starting work on my second children's album."

While Lusby is a finalist for his song, Magical Places, featuring lead vocals from his step-daughter, Amiria Grenell accompanied by two of Lusby's grandchildren.

"It talks of the magical places we all travel though in our young lives."

A long-time creator of children's music, Lusby says he wrote his first song when his first wife, Penny, contracted terminal breast cancer in the mid 1980s.

The experience of writing the song helped him cope with the emotions of what they went through together, he says.

"About the same time I also wrote my first children's song about a caterpillar with a wooden leg, it has always been a very popular children's song, also loved by adults as it has a little chorus hook including the name Mr Slitheram Litheram Lop."

The song will be published in a children's book later this year.

A turning point in his songwriting came in 1994 and involved a special young girl.

"I was made aware of a special story about a girl we call Jessie, born paralysed, suffering from epilepsy and with communication difficulties, who was taken to swim with the seals at Kaikoura."

Lusby says that when Jessie was being supported in the water, a dolphin swam up to her and into her arms.

"The crew let go of Jessie and the dolphin swam, taking Jessie around the boat then back to the crew member looking after her. When she returned she was kicking both her legs. The experience was profound upon everyone on the trip."

He wrote a song about it with children from St Martin's Primary School. It was the first song written with his Sing Out Kiwi songwriting programme for children.

"The creation of the song Maui was a major turning point in my work with children's music. It gave the children the opportunity to write, record and produce their own song."

The Sing Out Kiwi programme has continued to this day involving many Canterbury schools.

His latest CD, Magical Places, is drawn from his experience over the past 25 years.

It includes a song dedicated to weather man Jim Hickey which aims to raise awareness of New Zealand place names.

"The opportunity to have Magical Places placed in the top three selected this year for an award is a real honour, not only for my songs and love of children's music but for all the people involved."

THE DETAILS:

The Children's Music Awards will be presented by Jason Kerrison live on TV2's What Now on Sunday July from 8am.

Anika Moa and Mel Parsons are at the Dux Live on Wednesday, the Blue Pub in Methven on July 25 and at the Tawera Memorial Hall, Springfield, on July 26.

Jason Kerrison performs at the Carlton Bar tonight.

- The Press

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