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If you've already heard of the band Shine and the Moonbeams, then you've got an inside track on what's hip among the elementary school set. In the world of kids' music, their self-titled debut album is a hit.

Music reviewer Stefan Shepherd says it spotlights a genre rarely heard on kids' albums.

STEFAN SHEPHERD, BYLINE: The world of family music includes a broad range of sub-genres - folk and rock, punk and even polka. Compared to its popularity for adults, though, there have been very few R&B and soul music albums. That's why a lot of kids' music aficionados have been eagerly awaiting the debut album from Shine and the Moonbeams.


SHAWANA KEMP: (Singing) The new girl named Tallulah was from Chattanooga. I think that's in Tennessee. She was chunky and wore glasses but was sweet as molasses. She sat next to me. The mean...

SHEPHERD: That's "Bully, Bully" from the band's self-titled debut album. And the first thing most listeners notice is that voice.


KEMP: (Singing) But I stood up for Tallulah. I stood up for her 'cause she was my friend. And I said bully, bully. Oh no, no, no, not today. No. No. I said...

SHEPHERD: It belongs to New York's Shawana Kemp. And when she sings stop, it usually stops most listeners in their tracks the first time they hear it.


KEMP: (Singing) But it won't stop till we all say stop. So stop. Stop bullying me...

SHEPHERD: That song in particular grew out of work Kemp did as a teaching artist specializing in conflict resolution in New York City public schools. And many of the songs - co-written by Kemp and guitarist Jonathan Heagle - address issues like the power of imagination and being comfortable in your own skin. Sometimes message songs deliver the message at the expense of the music, but Kemp's warm voice and the band's groove keep these songs very listenable.


KEMP: (Singing) Everybody has a shine. You've got yours and I've got mine. And it's one of a kind, so shine, shine your shine. Shine...

SHEPHERD: Regardless of whether kids learn to embrace their own talent, find the strength to stand up against bullies or just discover that they like to dance, there are lot of lessons here. Any musical genre needs new voices to keep it fresh and family music is no exception. Whether they knew it or not, I think lots of families have waited a long time for what Shine and the Moonbeams are bringing to the playground.


KEMP: (Singing) Do you ever stop?


KEMP: (Singing) Do you ever stop?


KEMP: (Singing) Do you ever sit down?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: I don't want to sit down.

KEMP: (Singing) Do you ever...

CORNISH: Stefan Shepherd reviewed Shine and the Moonbeams' self-titled debut. Stefan writes about kids' music at


KEMP: (Singing) You got to run and jump. You got to play. You would never sit down if you had...


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