Various Artists

Bright Spaces

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This collection of children's music by a number of artists supports Bright Spaces, a program designed to create safe, supportive environments for playing, reading, and dreaming for homeless children. The album Bright Spaces gathers 16 fun songs by everyone from Arlo Guthrie to the Crawdaddys to Si Kahn. Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers start things off with the lively "Arthur Theme Song" from the popular PBS show, while Dream Project offers a gospel version of "Old MacDonald" that would make Aretha Franklin proud. Sweet Honey in the Rock bring their vibrant harmonies to "Still the Same Me," a song about the power to imagine the world without changing one's basic self. Dave Mallett's "Garden Song" is a real standout, filled with imagery of rain, sun, and earth, and praising the simple joys of planting and growing a garden. There are a couple of classics, including "This Land Is Your Land" and Raffi's closing track, "Goodnight Irene." The songs on Bright Spaces never come off as "grownup propaganda" but seem more concerned with helping kids to feel OK about who they are. The arrangements for the songs range from the a cappella of Sweet Honey in the Rock to the reggae of Raffi to the soft rock & roll of Jessica Harper's "This Happy House." This variety keeps the ears perked up. Bright Spaces manages the duel feat of being a good album that serves a good cause. Kids will like it, and so will their parents.

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