Ruth Crawford Seeger Children's Books & CDs

Ruth Crawford Seeger's Books & CDs for Children

Ruth Crawford Seeger's three books of songs for children have been in print since the early 1950s and they will continue to be classics. The songs are from both the Anglo and the African traditions in North America. The accompaniments are entertaining, unusual and innovative and are suitable for use at school and at home. Mrs. Seeger's four children and their families have recorded all the songs in these books, plus many more, on three Rounder issues. The multi-instrumental accompaniments on these CDs and cassettes are all in creative, traditional-based styles.

Animal Folk Songs for Children

(Linnet, Hamden Connecticut, 1993-temporarily out of print).

animalfolksongs200.jpgHere are more than forty American folk songs about all kinds of animals: rabbits, hounds, 'possums, bears, snakes, cows, sows, turkeys - even crocodiles! - brought together by a noted musician, folklorist and teacher. These songs are gathered mostly from field recordings in the archives of the Library of Congress. Ingenious piano accompaniments replace the banjo-guitar-fiddle and voice settings of the original recordings. Primarily from the South, many of the songs show a black African influence which, when mixed with other cultural traditions, results in a strong, resilient music unique to the American experience.

Barbara Cooney's illustrations are glorious, full of humor and compassion. Her career as an illustrator and author has been long and distinguished since she first illustrated songs for Ruth Seeger's books. She has been awarded the Caldecott Medal twice, for Chanticleer and the Fox and for Ox-cart Man. Ms. Cooney has almost 100 books to her credit.

Companion CD

Animal Folk Songs for Children, and other people

Rounder 2CD/2cassette issue
(ROUN 8023/4).

ROUN8023_Mini.jpgRuth Seeger raised her children on many of these songs. She would have loved to have taken part in the recording, which involve all four of her children (Peggy, Mike, Barbara and Penny) and many of her grandchildren (Kim Seeger; Sonya and Rufus Cohen; Neill, Calum and Kitty MacColl). The recordings contain all 43 songs from the book plus another 15 added because the family didn't want to stop recording. The variety of vocal styles and settings is stunning. Accompaniments are in tradition-based styles on banjo, guitar, piano, fiddle, tin whistle, ukulele, mandolin, jaw harp, lap dulcimer, quills - and more.

This recording was starred Notable Children's Recording in 1993 by the American Library Association. Dirty Linen wrote about it: "Every so often you come upon a collection of children's music that goes way beyond the confines of the medium, either in music, lyrics or spirit and on rare occasions, all three. This is one of those very rare recordings that has it all."

American Folk Songs for Children

(will be re-released by Music Sales, NYC).

amfolksongschildren200.jpgA classic collection, containing over 90 favorite folk songs for children, including ballads, chants, spirituals, blues and singing games, illustrated with charm and humor by Barbara Cooney. Subtitled as "a book for children, parents and teachers, it has an introduction on using the songs at home or at school, providing accompaniment and improvising. Kirkus Reviews commented that "it is more than a folk song book, more than a game book - it is a wonderful combination of both."

Companion CD

American Folk Songs for Children

Rounder 2CD/2cassette issue
(ROUN 8001/2).

ROUN8001_Mini.jpg This acclaimed collection, a favorite for years, has been repackaged on two compact discs or two cassettes for a total of more than two hours of music. Mike and Peggy Seeger sing 94 songs from the book. They play dulcimer, mandolin, guitar, banjo, pan pipes, jaw harp, concertina and fiddle - and of course sing some of the songs without accompaniment at all. This album has been the cornerstone of Rounder's Children's series since its release in the early 1970s.


American Folk Songs for Christmas

(Oak Publications, New York).

amfolksongschristmas200.jpgThis is a book for which there has been a long-felt need, a collection of songs from the old-time Christmas, before Santa Claus came to America, before neatly-trimmed trees bloomed with tinsel, before Christmas was taken over by the buyers and sellers. These are the songs that sprang from a need to express the Christmas spirit and they are part of our heritage. The songs are as varied as the singers who have sung them over the years but whether they dance with whimsey or echo with a plaintive cry, they always express the wonder and joy of Christmas.

Ruth Crawford Seeger says in her introduction, "Christmas is a season of two moods . . . There is worship and there is festivity. In both there is music." She has arranged the book in three sections to tell the Christmas story step by step: first the Stars and Shepherds, then Mary and the Baby and, finally, Praise and Partying. She has purposely kept the arrangements simple so that everyone can enjoy playing and singing them. Barbara Cooney's charming illustrations of animals, people, angels and seasonal tableaux make the book complete.

Companion CD

American Folk Songs for Christmas

Rounder 2CD/2cassette issue
(ROUN 0268/9).

ROUN0268_Mini.jpgThis recording was recipient of the NAIRD "Indie" award for the best seasonal recording of 1989. Mike, Peggy and Penny (three of Mrs. Seeger's four children) roped in members of their families (Sonya Cohen, Calum MacColl, Ewan MacColl, Kitty MacColl and Kim Seeger). The result is a most unusual recording of lesser-known Christmas songs accompanied on a variety of traditional acoustic instruments. There are many songs that the listener can join in on, tap feet to or just sit and let the spirit of Christmas do its work.


Ruth Crawford Seeger

Nineteen American Folk Songs

nineteen-am-folk-songs.gif(more info coming)










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