Hotpeasnbutter.com
Danny Lapidus, left, and Francisco J. Cotto make up the duo Hot Peas 'N Butter.

The past year has seen a boom in children's music, which may explain why Scholastic Media, a sister company of Scholastic Press (publisher of the Harry Potter series), has dipped into music.

Its products include the animated PBS "Maya & Miguel" educational program and the "Curious George Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the Film" CD, which features singer/songwriter Jack Johnson. And the Wiggles discs, which are constantly in the Top 10 on children's music charts.

Other artists who have made children's albums include Michelle Shocked, Dave and Jeff Koz, Ben Harper, guitarist Michael Ward, Maria Muldaur, Buck Howdy. . . . The list goes on.

I recently caught up with singer/songwriter Danny Lapidus, one half of the duo Hot Peas 'N Butter. Lapidus and Francisco "Frank" J. Cotto have been friends since childhood. They are now adults with families of their own.

Lapidus was born in Belgium and moved to Brooklyn. Cotto is a Puerto Rico native who moved to New York, where he met Lapidus.

"I had been in rock bands throughout my life," Lapidus said by phone from his Brooklyn home. "One day, Frank and I began talking about doing children's music. So we looked into what we were getting into."

They knew they wanted to make music that appealed to both children and adults. "We didn't want to sing down to children. They are smart human beings, and we didn't want to insult their intelligence."

Another concern was sizing up the competition. "We thought we would be up against puppet music," Lapidus said with a little giggle. "That was one of our first impressions. We thought we'd be up against the Barneys of the world. But in reality, there are very few of those types of characters."

Growing up, Lapidus listened to Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and an array of Beatles and jazz. "There wasn't any gimmicky music out there like there is today. Woody and Pete played music that we sang in school. I wanted to make music that brought adults and children closer."

In the past couple of years, the duo has released three Hot Peas 'N Butter albums. The latest, "Volume 3," continues the mission of embracing all cultures. Such songs as "Deep Down," "Que Lleuva," "Yonatan," "Garcon et Filles" and "Moishe the Camel" are a few songs in a variety of languages recorded for the CD.

"We mixed things up a bit," said Lapidus. "We sing different styles and in different languages. We sing in English, Spanish, French, Korean and Hebrew. We like to have our music as multicultural as we can."

So far, the music has appeared on Nickelodeon and Noggin programs.


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