A pair of bilingual children’s music releases came across my desk at virtually the same time. Since they address many of the same themes (albeit in subtly distinct ways), I decided to put them side-by-side in one article. Colombia native Nathalia has released her fourth CD, En La Radio and Alina Celeste shows her Cuban family influences on Love Is Te Quiero.
Both performers came to children’s through through educational backgrounds; Alina teaching music in the Miami-Dade County public schools and Nathalia doing the same in Los Angeles. The powerful allure of writing and performing original material as a platform to promote positive messages brought Nathalia to the stage and Alina to YouTube and a host of venues, from a petting zoo to a renaissance faire.
For En La Radio, Nathalia uses the premise of the songs existing all over the dial, so to speak, in English and Spanish, with ID breaks along the way. To show the range of the spectrum, “El Monstruo Verde” shares the stage with its English equivalent, “The Green-Eyed Monster.” The CD starts with the summery “Sounds of the Seasons,” and blurs the bilingual demarcation with “Amor Amor,” a lilting acoustic song. “Little Hermit Crab” tells the tale of a tiny crustacean tot, but you know who Nathalia is really talking about. Families can engage in English or Spanish or both languages, while it’s easy enough to piece together what you may not completely understand.
Alina Celeste‘s Love Is Te Quiero has a more razor-focused concern: the power of love through sharing and singing music. “Clap Hands” is innocently simple, while “Vaca Lechera” recounts a magical milkshake-giving cow (written in 1943 by Fernando Garcia Morcillo).
“Love Is” kicks off the CD conveying different ways to display affection, such as opening up a rainbow when it’s raining. “I’ve got nothing to say here, since nothing much rhymes with up,” Alina adds. “Te Quiero” delivers a similar sentiment in Spanish. But the point is made, nonetheless. “Stardust” talks about things being bright, and no, it’s not the Hoagy Carmichael number (Willie Nelson if you want to get more current by about 40 years).
There is a burgeoning and under-served demographic for bilingual children’s music. Lucky Diaz and Sonia de los Santos help to fill that void, and these two performers are certainly up to the job. Alina has the Florida panhandle (and a nation of YouTubers) at her disposal. And Nathalia has the West Coast ready for her CD rollout. Armed with guitars and goodwill, they are prepared to make your kids smile and sing along, in two languages.
Here is a recent video of Alina leading a singalong for “Zoom Zoom I’m Going to the Moon”: