Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Milkshake Gets a Grammy Nod (plus Tor Hyams)

Since I've been going through their entire output quite meticulously over the past couple weeks, I've become quite the fan of Milkshake recently. If you missed my original review of their new album "Great Day" you can have a look at it now. This week's news, however, is that the album has been nominated for a Grammy for the best children's musical album category, thus simply validating my opinion of it.

To be fair, I suspect that all of the nominees are pretty good, and a lover of children's music would be well served to check them all out, which you can do here. They're listed in category 76, and the spoken word nominees are #77.

Here's a press release about Milkshake and the nomination:

BALTIMORE (December 6) – With the Recording Academy’s December 3 announcement that Milkshake’s album Great Day has been nominated for a 2010 GRAMMY® Award in the “Best Musical Album for Children” category, the Baltimore-based rock band for kids has achieved yet another milestone in a remarkable career.

Milkshake began in 2002 as a musical experiment on the part of vocalist Lisa Mathews and guitarist Mikel Gehl, longtime bandmates from Baltimore’s indie rock group Love Riot, who vowed to “grow” their music right along with their own young children. Since then, Milkshake and the band’s legion of fans have been living an exciting, real-life, growing up adventure, moving from early childhood through the early elementary years, as the group toured the country and produced three multi-award-winning CDs, a DVD, and a multitude of music videos seen all over the kid-friendly networks. Along the way, as the kids grew and the music grew with them, Milkshake grew from a duo to a six-piece band.

The GRAMMY® nomination for Great Day is a crowning achievement of the past seven years in the life of Milkshake. Notes Lisa Mathews, "Milkshake is a rock band at heart, and we happen to have found our calling playing music for families to enjoy together. After all those years performing in the adult music world, where everyone yearns for a GRAMMY®, our nomination has us over the moon with joy. To be recognized in this way by our peers is immensely gratifying. Although we’re told over and over that adults love our music (and it’s great to hear that!), our purpose, from the start, has been to create real music that kids can call their own. We’re very grateful that NARAS is honoring these ideals."

Known for their pop-rock style that fairly crackles with energy, Milkshake indeed has a following of all ages. The band is familiar to millions of American households through their colorful, energetic music videos, which have been seen on PBS KIDS, NICK JR., and DISCOVERY KIDS. Milkshake’s live concerts, described by the Baltimore Sun as “a little like magic,” bring the same happy, rocking energy onstage to fans across the country. Baltimore Magazine declared, “Hip parents who like music will absolutely thrill to Milkshake.” Kenny Curtis, Sirius/XM Radio’s Director of Specialty Programming, describes Milkshake as “an amazing band whose songs are conceptual and fully thought-out pieces of music.” Wrote Paste Magazine, “Overflowing with energy and enough stylistic chops to move convincingly from rockabilly to jangle-pop, these tunes will make fans of the whole family.”

Great Day demonstrates the rocking energy, true teamwork, and sheer joy of six musicians performing “live to disc” the material that has won them coast-to-coast applause. Milkshake has previously released three critically acclaimed, multi-award-winning CDs – Happy Songs, Bottle of Sunshine, and PLAY! – in addition to a Parents’ Choice® Silver Award-winning DVD, Screen Play!, a joyous mix of MTV-like videos, animation, in-concert videos and cool bonus features, including interviews with the band and a pair of videos featured on PBS KIDS.

As Milkshake prepares to walk the Red Carpet at the GRAMMY® Awards, they are also looking ahead. The band has conceptualized The Milkshake Show, a TV program for kids that’s like Reading Rainbow meets The Monkees. Other plans include a Christmas CD with a festive mix of new material and fun songs from Milkshake’s live holiday shows and, of course, continuing to perform live for kids and famiies nationwide.

And here's a second release, this one focusing around the album's producer Tor Hyams. It's enlightening, and I for one think it productive to learn more about the producers behind kids' music's top acts. Enjoy:

LOS ANGELES (December 4) – Music producer Tor Hyams takes special pride in The Recording Academy’s December 3 announcement that Milkshake’s album Great Day has been nominated for a 2010 GRAMMY® Award in the “Best Musical Album for Children” category. Tor Hyams produced Great Day as part of his ongoing commitment to creating exceptional family entertainment.

Great Day is a capstone of nearly 20 years in the music and film industries for Hyams, who says, “Producing this kids’ album was an amazing experience, absolutely as exciting and fulfilling as anything I’ve done in the adult arena. Milkshake is truly a rock band of the highest caliber. The songs are edgy and packed with meaning, but also just plain good fun for the whole family. I’m tremendously proud to have produced the GRAMMY® nominated Great Day.”

Tor Hyams’ experience in the entertainment industry runs the gamut from writing and performing his own material to producing world-class recording artists and composing dozens of scores for film and television. Hyams’ star as a music producer has most definitely been on the rise, with albums for Joan Osborne, Vivian Campbell, Edwin McCain, Broadway star Rachel York, Jewish rappers Chutzpah, and the late Lou Rawls under his belt. He continues to collaborate with Lisa Loeb, Perry Farrell, Edwin McCain, and more.

Since 2002, inspired by his own family, Hyams has broadened his scope to encompass the burgeoning world of children’s/family entertainment. He founded HyLo Entertainment as an umbrella company for these activities, which began with Hyams writing and producing the award-winning, star-studded children’s CD A World of Happiness. Originally licensed to Disney’s Buena Vista Records, the album features performances by Samuel L. Jackson, Magic Johnson, Lou Rawls, Isaac Hayes, Debbie Harry, Gary Oldman, and Perry Farrell, among others.

With Farrell, Tor Hyams then conceived and developed Kidzapalooza as a family festival nested within the Lollapalooza Festival, a project of C3 Presents. Kidzapalooza, now in its sixth successful year with Hyams as producer and emcee, has been contracted through 2015. Innovative ancillary properties include Kidzapalooza Radio on Sirius/XM and a new compilation album, Kidzapalooza Vol. 1, featuring tracks from some of the best new names in family friendly music, such as Lunch Money, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, and The Jimmies, along with such familiar artists as Ralph Covert (of Ralph's World), Perry Farrell, Lisa Loeb, and more. Continuing his ever-expanding live music work with C3, Hyams also found himself producing the “Kiddie Limits” stage for Austin City Limits and the kids’ stages for a number of other regional festivals. Rounding out his activities, for the past several years Tor Hyams has led the family music efforts at the SXSW Music Festival.

Tor Hyams’ success in the world of live children’s music has spawned other opportunities, which include the formation of Happiness Entertainment, a full service children’s music label with distribution through Koch. In its inaugural year, Happiness has already released three albums, including a bonus track-filled reissue of A World of Happiness, the abovementioned Kidzapalooza compilation CD, and a family hip hop CD by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo.

Riding on the crest of today’s growing interest in children’s music, Tor Hyams decided to found Kindie Fest, the first-ever family music conference, featuring panels and performances with the most influential personalities in the field. The first Kindie Fest, held in Brooklyn, NY in May 2009, was sold out. The event’s sophomore year is planned for Spring 2010. Added recognition came when Tor Hyams was named a judge for the audio category of the 2009 NAPPA awards, one of the world’s most prestigious honors for children’s products.

The future holds unlimited possibilities for Hyams. Upcoming projects include producing albums for the critically acclaimed, multi-award-winning children’s musician Frances England and the hugely popular kids’ band Lunch Money.

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