Sing Out Loud
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American Rhythms
Do you love music? Want to use it to learn English? Check out the hip-hop inspired song "Peace" from Sing Out Loud American Rhythms. Download the songs and lyrics for free!

The Sing Out Loud American Rhythms CD includes a variety of musical genres from many different artists in the U.S.A. These songs will appeal to teens and young adults. This "hybrid" CD also contains a teacher's guide to using music in the classroom.

Watch a Teaching Tip for this resource.

Format: MP3, Text
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Outside the United States, print copies of the publications in this catalog may be requested by contacting the Public Affairs or Cultural Section of the nearest U.S. Embassy. We cannot guarantee, however, that all publications will be available at every office.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is prohibited from distributing its print materials in the United States by the Smith-Mundt Act.
 

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Teaching Tip

Table of Contents

Lessons in LifeExpand

"Lessons in Life" is a song from the upcoming album American Rhythms. The singer Bridgette Bryant and songwriter Daniel Ho present a song with a lesson: life lessons are not always easy. The song encourages respect for all creatures—large and small.

Lyrics and Classroom Activities
Do you want to use this song in your classroom? Here are the lyrics and classroom activities to get started. Finished with those? We've added second activity for the classroom!

Author: Bridgette Bryant and Daniel Ho
Format: MP3, Text
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Lessons in Life

A Lot of Days Are GoneExpand

The Arizona-based band Hacienda Brothers describes their music as “western soul”, as they blend together country music and R&B (rhythm and blues). The song "A Lot of Days Are Gone," written by Jeb Schoonover and Dave Gonzalez, illustrates this style of music with the steady drums and cymbals, the electric guitar, and the bass. But perhaps most noticeably, the pedal steel guitar is featured in this song.

The pedal steel guitar is one of the most distinctive instruments of American country music, and is played by manipulating foot pedals, moving a metal bar (the ‘steel’) across the strings of the instrument, and plucking the strings with the fingers or a guitar pick. The lyrics of "A Lot of Days Are Gone" also express a typical country music theme: that of regrets for the events of the past, and longing for a loved one who has been lost.

Lyrics and Classroom Activities
Do you want to use this song in your classroom? Here are the lyrics and classroom activities to get started.

Author: Hacienda Brothers
Format: MP3, Text
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A Lot of Days Are Gone

El PasoExpand

In the song El Paso, folk/indie singer, songwriter and internet sensation Danielle “Ate the Sandwich” Anderson thinks back on the experiences she had in a place that she now has to unfortunately leave behind: El Paso (Texas). In the song, it is clear that the singer is grateful for the experiences she went through in El Paso and is sad to have to leave.

As is common in folk/indie music, which incorporates influences from folk, country and indie music, El Paso is about an ordinary topic that we can all relate to: having been somewhere for some time and then feeling sad that the time has come for us to leave. While indie music is known for its catchy melodies, folk music is known for its acoustic sounds. In El Paso, Danielle manages to bring both of these characteristics together, with a special help from a native Hawaiian instrument, the ukulele.

Lyrics and Classroom Activities
Do you want to use this song in your classroom? Here are the lyrics and classroom activities to get started.

Author: Danielle Ate the Sandwich
Format: MP3, Text
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El Paso

Further DownExpand

In "Further Down" singer Kris Gruen combines catchy lyrics (and an especially catchy chorus) with the soft sound of the acoustic guitar, making this song an endearing example of what is called indie-folk music. In addition to the acoustic guitar that we hear in the first part of the song, we can also hear in "Further Down" a beautiful combination of different instruments, such as the acoustic guitar, the violin, the banjo, accordions and drums.

In this song, Kris Gruen sings about the life choices we can make and the fact that there is always hope “further down the line". There is always time to change the direction of our own lives, as long as we have the courage to do so. However, Gruen knows this is not an easy task when he sings: “The whole world is out to find, how to make the roses and violins sing their strings". This beautiful and positive message is accompanied by an equally beautiful violin arrangement.

Lyrics and Classroom Activities
Do you want to use this song in your classroom? Here are the lyrics and classroom activities to get started.

Author: Kris Gruen
Format: MP3, Text
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Further Down

SupertalentsExpand

"Supertalents" is one song from the upcoming album American Rhythms. The group Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips, along with guest artist Gregory Brown, sing that every person is born with a unique gift or talent, which he or she should practice and use every day. According to the song, everyone is good at something!

Lyrics and Classroom Activities
Do you want to use this song in your classroom? Here are the lyrics and classroom activities to get started.

 

Authors: Mista Cookie Jar and the Chocolate Chips, and Gregory Brown
Format: MP3, Text
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Supertalents

LocalvoreExpand

From a young age, Zach Ladin developed a liking for music and the outdoors. Ladin’s love and gratitude to all things natural and his musical talent come together in the music he writes and performs. Many of his songs are written to help children understand the beauty and value of nature. In the folk song Localvore, in which we hear the sounds of the banjo and the bandolin, Zach sings about appreciating locally grown food. Localvore, part of the larger project called Nature Jams, is about supporting local foods, businesses, and ultimately our communities and people. In a rapidly changing world, Ladin calls on individuals to have a huge role in reducing their impact on the environment by supporting the growing “local” movement.

Lyrics and Classroom Activities
Do you want to use this song in your classroom? Here are the lyrics and classroom activities to get started.

Author: Zach Ladin
Format: MP3, Text
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Localvore

PeaceExpand

In this song, hip-hop singer, humanitarian, motivational speaker and entrepreneur Chen Lo makes an appeal for peace in the world.  As is typical of many hip-hop/rap songs, this song not only criticizes and describes an unfortunate state of affairs, but also puts forward a call for change. As our world experiences wars, global warming, injustice, inequality and growing individualism, Chen Lo calls on all of us to stand together and build a world in which each person can have their peace of mind.

Chen Lo not only sings for change, but also puts it into practice himself: the singer is very much dedicated to community work and uses hip-hop as a means of educating young people in his native Brooklyn, New York. Chen Lo has also taken part in the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs program The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad, performing in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

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Peace

AmericaExpand

Baltimore-based ukulele player Victoria Vox writes honest, heartfelt lyrics. This song, America, is part of the album Vox Ukulele Cello, which won the 2011 Wammie award for Folk Contemporary Album of The Year. In this song, the artist sings about taking a road trip across American and using the time to reflect on life and to follow intuition. In the contemporary folk acoustic America, we can hear the sounds of the ukulele and the cello in addition to Vox’s enchanting voice and reflective tone.

Author: Victoria Vox
Format: MP3, Text, Video
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America

Good Morning New OrleansExpand

Kermit Ruffins, a jazz musician from New Orleans, Louisiana has decided in this song to sing about the grandiosity of his native city. Sometimes we simply love a certain place and all the things associated with it. This is how Kermit Ruffins feels about New Orleans. In this song, we can listen to Ruffins sing in his low-pitched, jazzy voice about how much he and other people love New Orleans, which is considered the birthplace of jazz music.

Ruffins not only sings about the greatness of the city itself, but also about its swinging atmosphere and the great people who are part of it. This song is a clear example of jazz music, a musical genre native to the USA and which combines African and European influences. As a special bonus, we can listen to Ruffins perform some nice scat, which involves singing nonsense syllables in a way that imitates a musical instrument. Scat singing is a very typical characteristic of jazz music.

Author: Kermit Ruffins
Format: MP3
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Hey, Little MinivanExpand

The Texas-based bluegrass-folk group Austin Lounge Lizards defines themselves as “the most laughable band in showbusiness”. The group uses humor in their songs in order to discuss various social and political topics such as love, politics, health care and religion. In their song Hey, Little Minivan, the group has decided to talk about a different topic: the passing of time and of our young years, and the new responsibilities that come with having a family. Despite the upbeat rhythm of the song, the lyrics indicate a certain feeling of nostalgia on the part of the singer and the fact that he is no longer young and fancy free. Many things have changed and the singer has now a different lifestyle, with its own advantages and disadvantages. In any case, his little minivan is now an integral part of this new life, and the fast muscle car is a thing of his past.

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Hey, Little Minivan

Simple DownExpand

In Simple Down, California-based artist Lael Neale uses guitars and the banjo to sing about living a simpler life. Many of us have probably at some point in our lives desired a simpler life, in which we give importance only to the things in life with a deeper meaning.  For the singer, who started playing her guitar at the age of 12, these include things such as love, nature and a life without excess.

The origins of folk music are related to a genre of music in which songs are made by the common people and for the common people. Each country has its specific varieties of folk songs, which are closely linked to the local culture. Folk artists from different cultures and backgrounds will use local instruments in their songs and sing about topics that people from their culture will be able to relate to. However, folk music has a common core, no matter where it is played: it is music that we can all relate to one way or another. The lyrics of folk songs tend to be simple and real-life to most of us.

Author: Lael Neale
Format: MP3
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Simple Down

Can't StopExpand

Some bands have an incredibly broad set of musical genres. Ozomatli is certainly one of those bands. The Los Angeles-based group, which has been named a U.S. Department of State Cultural Ambassador, has written songs belonging to a variety of musical genres: hip hop, salsa, cumbia, samba, funk, merengue, Jamaican ragga and others. Many of the genres are Latin genres, which has become increasingly popular in the United States.

The song Can’t Stop models the type of Latin music that you often hear on American radio stations. The song has influences of both salsa and rock, and combines rhythms from the two genres. With a special touch of Latin vibe, it’s hard to listen to the song and not want to dance along. And once you start dancing, you simply Can’t Stop, as the song title indicates. The song title applies both to the powerful rhythm of the song as well as the message of the song itself. Ozomatli wants listeners to know that we need to believe in the power of love and think positively about the future. In other words, we can’t stop believing and should not look back. The future is ahead of us.

Lyrics and Classroom Activities
Do you want to use this song in your classroom? Here are the lyrics and classroom activities to get started.

Format: MP3
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Stronger and StrongerExpand

Daniel Ho, a musician native to Honolulu, Hawaii, has helped bring Hawaiian music to the popular scene. In Stronger & Stronger, the singer has a clear and empowering message in his voice and lyrics. The song, which is part of the award-winning album Simple as a Sunrise, is based upon the artist’s own life and a way that Ho has found to share his personal experience. In this song, the artist sings about his decision to chase his dreams without being brought down and discouraged by people who do not think he has what it takes to achieve them. It is a song about believing in yourself and about fighting to reach your full potential. In this song, we hear the beautiful sounds of the slack key guitar, which is commonly used in Hawaiian music.

Author: Daniel Ho
Format: MP3
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Stronger & Stronger

Not AfraidExpand

In their song Not Afraid, Turning Pointe wants people everywhere to know that each of us has the strength to fight for our dreams and continue on our journey through life. The implicit message in the song lyrics is one of hope and perseverance. We all come across obstacles in our lives, and may feel like giving up at some point. However, as Turning Pointe sings, if we step up to our challenges and believe in ourselves, we are going to succeed.

Turning Pointe is a pop gospel group based in Atlanta, Georgia. The group consists of 4 members, all with beautiful soulful voices and a desire to share their positive messages of love, faith and hope. Turning Pointe did just that in 2010, when they performed their music around the world (Ghana, Liberia, Guinea, and Congo) through their participation in The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad, a program to bring together American artists and musicians with citizens from around the world (sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs).

Author: Turning Pointe
Format: MP3
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Not Afraid

Just Like Everyday PeopleExpand

This song was written by Honolulu-based Hawaiian singer Kelli Heath. In the song, Heath discusses some of the problems she sees in the way a large number of people live their lives nowadays. The singer talks about our tendency to only feel strong when we make others weak, our incapacity to learn from our mistakes, our constant need to get defensive, and our occasional avoidance of social contact. Heath is clearly not happy with this state of affairs and urges her listeners to live “like everyday people”, who simply seek to lead a good and peaceful life. A peaceful life can be said to be a life with few worries and a decent level of understanding and care for each other. 

Author: Kelli Heath
Format: MP3
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You Made Me LaughExpand

The song You Made Me Laugh by Omar Kent Dykes, a blues guitarist and singer, is an engaging example of Texas blues-rock. Texas is one of the places (in addition to cities such as Chicago and Memphis) where the original blues became very popular before spreading to other parts of the U.S.A. Blues music is easily recognizable by its rhythms and combinations of chords. In addition, when you hear the electric guitar, the harmonica, the bass and drums together, you can almost certainly bet that someone is playing the blues. Blues-rock is all that, with the addition of a faster-paced rhythm dictated by the drums.

You Made me Laugh is one of the songs found in the album On the Jimmy Reed Highway. The album consists of songs penned or originally performed by the late blues artist Jimmy Reed, an influential electric blues musician in the U.S. In addition, some of the songs in the album were especially written in Jimmy Reed’s honor. From the very start of You Made Me Laugh, you know are you in for a great musical ride.

Author: Omar Kent Dykes
Format: MP3
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You Made Me Laugh

ChampionExpand

In this song, Hawaiian singer and pastor David “Kawika” Kahiapo sings about having done the best he can in his life and always having the strength to fight for his dreams. Kawika invites those listening to his song to also believe in themselves and fight for their dreams, without being discouraged by those who do not believe in their success. In this song, Kawika plays the slack key guitar (ki ho’alu), which is a guitar that has had its strings “slacked”, or loosened, to create a different chord.

In the song Champion, as is the case with many songs composed by Hawaiian artists, you can almost feel the breeze coming from Hawaiian beaches as you listen to the song. There is a sort of upbeat tune to Champion that makes you want to simply relax and enjoy.

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Into the GardenExpand

Zach Ladin, who grew up in a family of musicians in New England, has been involved with music his entire life. His passion for all things nature-related has led him to bring together his love of music, his love of nature, and his background in ecology and education in his environmentally themed children’s music.

The song Into the Garden is an example of folk and Americana music, which has a broad range of musical influences (from folk, country and blues to rock & roll and bluegrass). In this song, Ladin invites us all to have a first-hand experience with the animals, plants, vegetables and fruits we can find in gardens. The song is a celebration of the experience of being in a garden, and the joys of growing food. This song emphasizes being grateful for the food that sustains us and for the natural systems a healthy earth provides for us.

Author: Zach Ladin
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Into the Garden

The Time is NowExpand

Travis Haddix’s song The Time is Now is another soul-searching examples of blues music. Blues guitarist Travis “Moonlight” Haddix was born in Walnut, Mississippi, only 30 miles south of Memphis. Memphis was a very important city for the development of blues music, and from an early stage Haddix’s blues style was influenced influence by big-name blues artists such as B.B. King. In The Time is Now, we can hear instruments such as the keyboard, the electric guitar, drums, the bass and the saxophone.

The song has a very positive message: the time has come for us to show love and care for each other and to stand together to build a fairer and more peaceful world. Haddix’s positive messages are echoed not only in his lyrics, but also in a motto he uses at the end of many of his shows: “I am the best that I can be, and since no one else can be me, there is none better.”

Author: Travis Haddix
Format: MP3
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Count Your SheepExpand

The song Count your Sheep involves a partnership between Honolulu-born ukulele player and singer Daniel Ho and singer Bridgette Bryant. The song talks about counting your sheep, which is something many children in the USA and around the world are advised to do when they are having trouble letting go of the excitement of the day and going to sleep.

Bryant has a sweet, soulful voice that goes directly to the heart of her listeners. In this upbeat lullaby, which is a mixture of R&B and folk music, we hear Daniel Ho play the ukulele (an instrument native to Hawaii) accompanied by Bryant’s powerful and mellow voice. The use of the saxophone in part of the song only adds to the magic of the music Ho and Bryant have written together.

Author: Bridgette Bryant and Daniel Ho
Format: MP3
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We Dig WormsExpand

The folk song We Dig Worms is one of the ways that singer Zach Ladin has found to remind listeners young and old of the importance of all creatures in nature. Ladin, who has an academic background in urban ecology, uses his music to educate children about nature, as well as promote an appreciation for all the things that Earth and nature gives us – even worms and bugs!

In this song, Ladin invites listeners to appreciate all of the things on the Earth that support nature’s ecosystem, such as worms, insects, birds, plants, the sun, and clean air and water. We Dig Worms is part of an environmental education project called Nature Jams that Ladin started in order to inspire people through upbeat music promoting good health, natural living, and friendship.

Author: Zach Ladin
Format: MP3
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Breakfast Lunch and DinnerExpand

Jazz musician Kermit Ruffins performs along with a talented group of children in Breakfast Lunch and Dinner. In the song, listeners can hear two points of view about eating right: a group of children who claim that they only need sweets and other unhealthy foods, and the adult perspective of the need for balanced meals. Back-and-forth between Ruffins and the children in the song is accompanied by some typical jazz instruments: the trumpet, drums, and piano.

Ruffins, a jazz trumpeter, comes from New Orleans (Louisiana), home of the New Orleans style of jazz. These southern roots are reflected in Ruffins’s lyrics, as he encourages the children to eat “good soul food,” or traditional African American cuisine that is often associated with the southern states. Ruffins even sometimes cooks BBQ (barbeque) at his concerts!

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