A Grammy Winner’s Dream of Protecting Animals: Diane Warren and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Posted on November 30, 2020 at 8:00 am

Diane Warren has won Grammy, Golden Globe, and Emmy awards. She has received eleven Oscar nominations and three consecutive Songwriter of the Year Billboard awards, and is in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Her songs have been sung by Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Cher, Beyonce, and Lady Gaga.

Equal to her passion for music is her passion for animals. And both come together in her beautiful new song from “The One and Only Ivan,” which she has donated for Giving Tuesday to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. In addition, Ms. Warren is matching funds raised during the Giving Tuesday campaign, up to a total of $20,000.

GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement, held annually the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, falling this year on December 1.

“Free” was performed by Charlie Puth for Disney’s 2020 film, “The One and Only Ivan.”

“We are thrilled to work with Diane Warren to help spread awareness about the plight facing gorillas,” says Stoinski. “There are just over 1,000 mountain gorillas left, and we are working to bring them and their close cousins, the critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas, back from the brink of extinction.”

“The Fossey Fund is doing amazing work to protect these important species,” says Warren. “Mountain gorillas are one of the world’s few conservation success stories, and I am honored to be part of the Fossey Fund’s work to protect the gorillas and their habitat and to help the people who share their forest home.”

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Music

Family Movies for the Homebound VII: Kids and Music

Posted on April 20, 2020 at 8:00 am

Copyright Alcon Entertainment 2012

Some of my favorite movies are about kids and teenagers making music. Maybe some of these will inspire you to make some of your own.

Bandslam: The focus is on the manager of the high school band here, named after a line from absurdist literary giant Samuel Beckett. An exceptionally smart script and some rocking songs plus a supporting cast that includes Lisa Kudrow and a surprise cameo from one of the biggest rock stars of all time make this one you’ll want to watch more than once.

A Joyful Noise:  Pure cinematic sunshine with comedy, romance, drama, and gorgeous music featuring Queen Latifah and Doily Parton as competing singers in a gospel choir. Most of the members are adults, but the sweet relationship — and sweet duet — from teens played by Keke Palmer and Broadway star Jeremy Jordan is a highlight.

The Sound of Music:  One of the most popular family films of all time is based on the story of the real-life von Trapp family, who escaped from Nazi-controlled Austria and performed as singers in the United States before they settled in Vermont.

Sing Street: This is the rare movie that not only recognizes and portrays the  experience of finding music that introduces you to yourself; it goes farther than that. It is as close to re-creating the experience as it is possible for a movie to be. Watching this movie is not like remembering what it is like to be 14 and have your soul restored through rock and roll. It is like being there, but having it all work out the way better than you could have wished.

Selena: Jennifer Lopez is as vibrant as the star she plays in a biopic about the popular singer who was killed by her former assistant.

Almost Angels: Disney’s 1962 film is based on the real-life Vienna Boys Choir. They may sing like angels, but they get into mischief like kids.

Coco: A young boy loves music, but his family does not want him to play. He goes on a journey to the afterlife and learns important lessons about music, family, and he man he thought was his hero.

High School Musical: Even Disney was surprised by how popular this movie became. It deserved every bit of it; I love this sweet story and it was so much fun to see the cast reunited and singing with the kids from the DisneyPlus series sort of-sequel on the terrific Disney Family Sing-Along special. This is my favorite song from the original.

School of Rock: Just try to watch this movie without wanting to form you own rock band. Jack Black plays a substitute teacher who tells the students of a posh private school that all they need to learn is music that sticks it to the man.

The Rocker: This neglected gem features an astonishing cast of soon-to-be movie stars including Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, and Josh Gad (plus future hit-maker Teddy Geiger) in the story of a former rock drummer (Rainn Wilson) who joins a high school band. The cast also features comedy all-stars Christina Applegate, Jeff Garlin, Will Arnett, Fred Armisen, Jane Lynch, and Jason Sudeikis.

Imba Means Sing: The Grammy nominated African Children’s Choir is the subject of a documentary.

Boychoir: Dustin Hoffman and Eddie Izzard star in a film about a young boy who joins a choir.

Girl Crazy/Strike Up the Band/Babes in Arms: Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland made a series of “let’s put on a show” musicals that are still a lot of fun, especially Girl Crazy, with irresistible Gershwin songs like Embraceable You, Bidin’ My Time, But Not For Me, and Fascinating Rhythm.

Lemonade Mouth/Camp Rock/Cheetah Girls: Disney Channel’s movies about kids forming music groups are not great cinema but they are tuneful treats.

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For Your Netflix Queue Movie Mom’s Top Picks for Families Music Neglected gem

Raffi’s New Songs About the Climate/Environment

Posted on August 26, 2019 at 8:15 pm

Raffi has been making families happy with his wonderful songs so long that today’s parents can remember singing along with Raffi with their own parents, probably songs like “Baby Beluga” and “Going to the Zoo.”

Copyright Raffi 2019

His two new songs address his concerns about climate change in a tuneful, frank but hopeful way. “Young People Marching” is a tribute to Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who inspired climate marches by young people around the world. The song begins with her trademark clarity: “There is no middle ground when it comes to the climate and ecological emergency!”

“Do We Love Enough” is a melodic ballad that asks some tough but essential questions that we now face. “With our future in jeopardy … how can the kids dream and plan? … Will we do enough?”

These powerful songs mark an evolution in Raffi’s decades long advocacy for children and the Earth, and in the call for climate action heard in his 2007 song “Cool It.”

In a 2017 essay for NBC news, Raffi wrote, “Kids born today will face unprecedented global crises within their lifetimes, including the possible collapse of fisheries, accelerated mass extinctions, decimation of coral reefs and rising sea levels… Finding a remedy for our species is a matter of survival.”

Once called “the most popular children’s singer in the English-speaking world” (Washington Post) and “Canada’s all-time children’s champion” (Toronto Star), pioneering troubadour Raffi has spent more than four decades delighting successive generations of kids–and their parents– with his playful personality and timeless songs. In that time, he has recorded numerous gold and platinum albums and performed countless sold-out concerts.
Raffi has refused all commercial endorsement offers and has never advertised to children, a distinction for which he received the Fred Rogers Integrity Award. His non-profit Raffi Foundation advances Child Honouring as a universal ethic. An online course in Child Honouring is now offered for parents, educators and policy makers.

“Young Greta is the moral voice of our times,” says Raffi, “urging the world to action on the global climate emergency, the greatest threat to all our lives—a matter of survival.”

Stream “Young People Marching” and “Do We Love Enough?

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Environment/Green Music

EW Ranks the Best Fake Songs

Posted on March 15, 2019 at 8:00 am

I really enjoyed this Entertainment Weekly list of the best songs performed by musical groups on television and in films. Of course it includes the legendary Robin Sparkles “Let’s Go to the Mall” from “How I Met Your Mother” and he title song from “That Thing You Do” — though every song in that film should be included, especially “Mr. Downtown.” I was glad to see “Inside Llewyn Davis” included, “Sing Street’s””Drive it Like You Stole it”and two songs from the under-appreciated “Music and Lyrics” and thrilled to see “A Goofy Movie” on the list as well. And of course I have my own favorites that do not appear on the list. Where is Spinal Tap? “Waiting for Guffman?” “A Mighty Wind?” The also-underrated “Bandslam” has a great fictional group with a wonderful name: I Can’t Go On I’ll Go On and great songs, like “Someone to Fall Back On.” And the new “Documentary Now!” episode inspired by the D.A. Pennebaker film about the recording of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” cast album, “Co-Op,” has brilliant fake Sondheim songs like “I Gotta Go,” sung by Paula Pell, inspired by “Ladies Who Lunch,” and “Holiday Party,” echoing “Getting Married Today.” I’d buy that cast album.

I know it is unforgivably esoteric, but just once when I was a kid I saw a television show starring Ricky Nelson as a musician and there was a song in it I always remembered. Decades later, after the internet turned out to have the answer to almost everything, I was able to track it down and it turned out it was written by none other than Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Here’s the soundtrack.

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