Music Review: African Dreamland Lullabies

Cover image for the African Dreamland CD.

Is Putumayo Kids giving us authentic music from world cultures, or watered down pop music for dumb Americans? It’s a serious question.

You probably know Putumayo Kids as the purveyor of children’s songs from around the world sung in their native languages. But what does someone from one of those countries think of the music? We will find out today.

When I listened to Putumayo’s African Dreamland CD there was only one word to describe it: harmonious. The CD is packed with 11 lullabies from 8 African countries.

Ahh, lucky me. I have neighbors who are originally from Benin. Both of them are university professors (he computer science and she French) and they have three kids — an 8-month-old girl and two boys, 2- and 3-years-old.

So, my neighbor Hermine kindly consented to sharing with us her honest opinion…

African Dreamland

I enjoy listening to beautiful melodies from my native Africa. So many times, after listening to American lullabies, I asked myself, “What about a CD made of only African lullabies?” Desperately and with a heart full of nostalgia, I would go ahead and play the only lullaby I have from Angelique Kidjo (an internationally well known artist from Benin) and from another artist called GG Vickey (also from Benin).

Today, this music finds me at the right time.

I just had a baby girl who will be enjoying the same melodies that calmed me down during my childhood. Lullabies are an important part of African babies’ lives.

It is believed that infants recognize members of their families through lullabies. Lullabies also shape a content and serene baby for your happy marriage.

With life getting too busy and almost no relatives around, I don’t have the opportunity to sing for her as much as I would, as much as my mother sang for me, or better, as much as my grandmother sang for my mom. This is the kind of CD that everyone, and particularly every African in the US, should have.

On a musical note, I will say that though I don’t understand all the languages used to create the songs, I can recognize that they have the same rhythm as the ones I grew up with. The softness of the melodies would sooth anyone, even an adult.

The first time I listened to it in my car, my crying baby girl, who would never stand a dirty diaper, slept through. At home my two older boys also enjoyed listening to the CD. One asked me one day as I was putting him in bed — and ready to grab a book — “No book Mama, music.”

“Which one?” I asked, and he answered, “African.” He had to get up and show me what he wanted and I played it for him and he slept. I have also experienced the joy of my Mom visiting and listening to the music.

I totally recommend this music not only because it cultivates cultural diversity, but also because they are simply beautiful and beyond any western description of music.

-Hermine Amoussou

Available at Amazon.


3 Responses to “Music Review: African Dreamland Lullabies”

  1. Kathleen says:

    Thank you for a great review. We are always looking for great music to add to our collection. We love exposing our boys to various types of music and it always makes for great conversation with our 3.5 year old. Not a child-specific CD but our 3.5 DS loves dancing to “Buena Vista Social Club” :)

    November 3rd, 2008 at 6:21 am

  2. Tara says:

    So helpful, thanks! We’re having our first baby in a few months, and I am obsessed with finding children’s music that I can live with too. So this sounds just perfect!

    November 3rd, 2008 at 11:17 am

  3. Carrie C says:

    We have quite a few of the Putumayo discs, and they are wonderful! I like that even though it is children’s music, it doesn’t sound like it. We leave the tunes in regular rotation on the ipod. Our favorite is the Reggae Playground disc.

    November 3rd, 2008 at 2:27 pm