Legendary soul and R&B singer/songwriter Ben E. King passed away yesterday on April 30, 2015 at the age of 76. Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite recordings in his honor.

1. “Spanish Harlem”(1960)
King moved to Harlem, NYC when he was 9 years old.

2. “This Magic Moment” (1960)
King with The Drifters, singing the lead.

3 “I (Who Have Nothing)” (1963)
This song is based on an Italian song called “Uno Dei Tanti” (“One of Many”).  Although King was the first to record it, many others followed: Tom Jones, Petula Clark, Liza Minnelli, Neil Diamond, Donna Osmond, Gladys Knight and more!

4. “Stand by Me” (1961)
One of my favorite songs of all-time (first song I learned on the Double Bass!) and the song people most associate with King. He wrote it along with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

5. “Save the Last Dance for Me”(1960) Another one of my favorites of Ben E. King with The Drifters.

American jazz singer and songwriter Billie Holiday was born April 7, 1915- 100 years ago today!  Her unique vocal style and personal story make her one of the most influential and captivating performers of the 20th century.  Celebrate “Lady Day” by watching and sharing these three spell-binding performances today!

“The Blues Are Brewin’” This performance with legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong is soothing and sultry. Perfect rainy day music!

“Strange Fruit”: This powerful song is unforgettable and this live performance is just as haunting.


“Fine and Mellow”: This classic 1957 performance features talented jazz musicians like Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ben Webster, and Gerry Mulligan alongside Lady Day.



Édith Piaf, one of France’s most famous singers, was born on December 19, 1915.  We’re celebrating at TLB Music by singing her songs in our Friday morning French Sing-Along Playgroups (ages 6 months – 6 years)!  In her honor, watch this video of Édith singing her signature song, “La Vie en Rose”:


This activity sheet is perfect for learning the C major scale on the piano or xylophone!  At TLB Music, we teach young children how to play a scale on the xylophone using a simple song like “Doe a Deer”.  I highly recommend this toddler-friendly xylophone by Hohner.  It is fantastic because you can first use the colors as your guide (a color-coded song book is included) and as the children get older, they can begin to read the notes marked on the bars.  After mastering the scale on the xylophone, our students graduate to playing it on their own keyboards!

Click here to get the free activity sheet:  The C Major Scale on the Piano and Xylophone

Related piano activity sheets:
Notes C, D, and E on the Piano and Keyboard
Identifying C, D, and E
One Two Sheet Music for Piano (using notes C, D, E, F, and G)
C Major Scale Activity for Kids
Musical Spelling Activity Sheet (Level 1)
Musical Spelling Activity Sheet (Level 2)

Today is two of my favorites musicians’ birthdays: both John Lennon and French composer Camille Saint-Saëns were both born on October 9! John in 1940 in Liverpool, England and Saint-Saëns in 1835, in Paris, France. In their honor, click on on the videos below to listen to John’s “Instant Karma” and Saint-Saëns’ “Aquarium” from “Carnival of the Animals”:



One of my favorite singers, the legendary Freddie Mercury was born on this day in in 1946!  He was best known as the incredible lead singer and lyricist for Queen and his unforgettably unique, powerful voice ranged over 4-octaves.  Today, in his honor, I’m sharing 3 amazing Queen performances:  ”Under Pressure” live at Wembley Stadium (1986), “Somebody to Love” live at Montreal (1981), and “Bohemian Rhapsody” live at Wembley Stadium” (1986).   Happy Birthday, Freddie!

Today would have been Michael Jackson’s 56th birthday. In his honor, I’m sharing my favorite MJ song, “Man in the Mirror”, performed at the 1989 Grammy Awards. Please watch and share!

I’m going to make a change
For once in my life
It’s gonna feel real good
Gonna make a difference, gonna make it right

As I turned up the collar on my favorite winter coat
This wind is blowin’ my mind
I see the kids in the street with not enough to eat
Who am I to be blind, pretending not to see their need?

A summer’s disregard, a broken bottle top
And one man’s soul
They follow each other on the wind ya know?
‘Cause they got nowhere to go, that’s why I want you to know

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change

I’ve been a victim of a selfish kinda love
It’s time that I realize
There are some with no home, not a nickel to loan
Could it be, really mean, pretending that they’re not alone?

A willow deeply scarred, somebody’s broken heart
And a washed out dream
(Washed out dream)
They follow the pattern of the wind ya see
‘Cause they got no place to be that’s why I’m starting with me

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change

Today is actress and singer Audra McDonald’s birthday!  In April, I had the pleasure of seeing Audra perform as Billie Holiday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.   I was absolutely blown away by the way she transformed her voice to match Billie’s vocal style.  Every nuance was spot on.  Compare below!  The play is set in a run-down bar in Philadelphia in 1959, where Billie gave one of her last performances.  Throughout the play, Audra, as Billie, staggers around the stage, slurs her words, smokes cigarettes, and tells the intimate tales of her songs.  You can hear a pin drop as she gives an introduction to “Strange Fruit” and quietly begins to croon.  She recently won a Tony Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for her work in this must-see show.  This win also makes her the first person to win 6 Tony Awards for acting!  Happy Birthday, Audra!  New Yorkers- get your tickets to the show!

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Happy Birthday, Judy Garland! The American actress and singer was born Frances Ethel Gumm on June 10, 1922 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  Here are 5 extraordinary performances to celebrate and honor her special day.  Her rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” is absolutely phenomenal and unforgettable!  It is particularly poignant because it was recorded just 3 weeks after JFK was assasinated and the performance was dedicated to him.  Watch, share, and visit to learn more about Judy.

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Happy Birthday, Johannes Brahms!   The composer and pianist was born in Hamburg, Germany on May 7, 1833- 181 years ago today!  In his honor, listen to his Waltz in A Flat Major, Op. 39, No. 15.  This is one of my favorite classical pieces of music- perfect for the end of a hectic day!


photo source

On April 1, 1948, Jamaican singer and musician Jimmy Cliff was born.  In honor of his birthday, listen to his feel-good cover of Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” from 1993.  Remember this version from the Cool Runnings‘ soundtrack?  Love it!  This is the perfect song for the first bright and sunny day of Spring in NYC.  Happy 66th Birthday, Jimmy!


Nat King Cole was born Nathaniel Adams Coles on March 17, 1919- 95 years ago today! In his honor, I’m sharing one of my favorite Nat King Cole songs, “Orange Colored Sky”:



Lou Reed, Karen Carpenter, Jon Bon Jovi and Chris Martin all share the same birthday!

Lou: March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013
Karen: March 2, 1950 – February 4, 1983
Jon:  March 2, 1962
Chris: March 2, 1977

Johnny Cash was born on February 26, 1932 in Kingsland, Arkansas.  His deep bass-baritone voice and mysterious nature made him one of the most memorable and unique artists of all time. Happy birthday, Johnny!   In his honor, I put together a video playlist of some of my favorite performances:
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Happy Birthday, Roberta Flack!  The singer, songwriter, and musician turns 75 years old today (or 77 according to the Census- either way she looks fantastic!).  Her version of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” popularized the 1957 song and helped Flack win the 1973 Grammy Record of the Year and Song of the Year.  Watch her sing the song in 1972 in honor of her birthday!



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