Fins and Grins – Reviews

CD - Fins and Grins

Fins and Grins
By Johnette Downing

Product Details

  • Genre: Kids/Family: General Children’s Music
  • Release Date: 2006
  • CD: 16 Songs
  • UPC #634479346392


“Dance and learn with ‘Fins and Grins’

Fins and Grins, the newest release from award-winning New Orleans musician Johnette Downing, is not just amazingly fun to listen to (even for parents!), it is seeping with educational value, as well. The music celebrates aquatic life with abandon, and kids will sing songs about every­thing from crawfish to clamshells while you know they’re getting the facts about animals right: not only is the album dedicated to the creatures that perished at the Aquarium of the Americas during Hurricane Katrina, the Aquarium’s education de­partment shared resources and even checked the album’s content for accuracy.”

Baton Rouge Parent, April 2007

“I appreciate artists like Johnette Downing who have carved out careers making kids’ music in genres other than the dominant rock and pop genres. Based in New Orleans, Downing understandably draws upon the rich musical gumbo of the region, using Cajun, Creole and Zydeco as her musical inspiration.

Downing’s sixth kids album, Fins and Grins, is a fine example of Downing’s musical approach. For subject matter, Downing looks to the sea, singing songs about penguins, stingrays, and (naturally) l’ecrevisse, more commonly known as the crawfish. Musically, the album is a great collection of melodies, supported by Downing’s sweet voice and strong band. But the album has a strong interactive and educational component, and how you feel about the CD will depend in large part on how interactive and educational you like your CDs. Many preschoolers will like songs like the gently boogie-ing “Clamshell Clap,” which encourages lots of clapping, natch, or the “Amazon ABC’s,” which lists Amazon animals well-known and not. If you’re not looking for educational songs, you might appreciate the Zydeco of “L’ecrevisse” while not caring much for the lesson about the crawfish in the lyrics. Some songs do stand well on their own, the traditional folk song (with rewritten lyrics) “The Circle of Life” and the album closer (with a sweet fiddle accompaniment) “Turtles” being two prime examples.

I think kids ages 4 through 8 will most appreciate the lyrical content here (the musical content is definitely all-ages). You can hear samples at the album’s CD Baby page or hear a couple tracks at Downing’s music page.

If you are looking for a kid-friendly collection of New Orleans-flavored music or are a librarian or preschool/elementary school teacher looking for some aquatic-themed music as part of (or to lead) a lesson, then this album will make an excellent addition to your collection.”


“New Orleans musician Johnette Downing’s latest is a collection of 16 songs celebrating the fabulous diversity of aquatic life. The album is dedicated to the marine animals at New Orleans Aquarium of the Americas that perished following Hurricane Katrina. Downing conveys a wealth of accurate information with a light touch that goes down easy. The selections focus on such creatures as rock hopper penguins, stingrays, seahorses, crawfish, turtles, and frogs, as well as aquatic habits and habitats. Downing often encourages active audience participation, especially in “Clamshell Clap” and “A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea.” The seasoned and engaging performer is clearly at ease with rhythm and blues, Cajun music, and other musical styles. Well-known New Orleans musicians, including Jimmy LaRocca (jazz trumpet) and Bruce Daigerpont (Cajun accordion), are also featured. A marvelous listening experience.”

Paul Shackman, Booklist

“Bonnie Raitt, move over! There’s a new(er) blues belter in town. And she’s easy on the ears. New Orleans singer-songwriter Johnette Downing has a velvet set of pipes, but instead of using them to sing of men who’ve done her wrong, she’s belting out tunes about penguins and stingrays, crawfish and hermit crabs. Still, backed by Jimmy LaRocca of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band on trumpet and Bruce Daigerpont on Cajun accordion, you can almost imagine kicking back for a listen with a bowl of gumbo at a café in the French Quarter. She does Louisiana’s long tradition of Creole, Cajun, and Zydeco proud.”

“Children’s musician, singer and songwriter Johnette Downing presents sixteen new and original marine animal themed songs in “Fins And Grins”, her newest and enthusiastically recommended CD album for kids. The music is lively and positively toe-tapping as Downing musically celebrates penguins, crawfish, clams, amphibians, hermit crabs, seahorses, turtles, stingrays, sharks, and the circle of life in the seas, in the ocean, in the Amazon River, and in aquariums. Superbly recorded and energetically performed. With a total running time of 44 minutes, 47 seconds, “Fins And Grins” is a welcome and appropriate addition to family, day-care center, preschool, elementary school, and community library CD music collections for children.”

Midwest Book Review

“A performer of folk music with some New Orleans flavor mixed in, Johnette Downing is comparable to Mary Kaye, with her strong vocal delivery. This album is unique, in that every song is about marine animals. The album is dedicated to the marine animals in the Aquarium of the Americas with died during Hurricane Katrina. Johnette did a great deal of research in writing this album, working with the Education Department of the aquarium to ensure accuracy. Although rooted in a tragic circumstance, the album is full of joy and life, a true celebration and exploration of these animals. Simply wonderful.”


“A spicy mixture of 50’s rock ‘n’ roll, blues, and boogie-woogie with participatory numbers. Engaging songs on zoology and ecology with the flavors of Johnette Downing’s home state of Louisiana.”

A to Z Kids Stuff

“Just in time for Mardi Gras, New Orleans native Johnette Downing returns with her sixth children’s music CD, Fins and Grins, a sophisticated collection of jazz and blues-tinges sing-along songs about life under the sea. The album, with songs of seahorses, turtles, penguins, and more, is dedicated to the animals of New Orleans’ Audubon Aquarium of the Americas who perished in Hurricane Katrina.”

Nick, Jr. Family Magazine

“An album full of facts about things like the Amazon and the inhabitants of the wild kingdom, Johnette Downing’s Fins and Grins is the perfect album to give a child, to help them learn about the wildlife around them. ”Rock Hopper Penguin” is a sprightly ditty that kids can sing along with, that has such lyrics as, “Well, the band was jumpin’, they were really cool. Smooth as ice on a frozen pool. I’m a rock hopper.” “Amazon ABCs” is an educational song about the animals one would find in the jungle, with such lyrics as, “A! A is for the Amazon. B! B is for Boa Constrictor…E! E is for the electric eel.” “Amphibians” teaches kids about certain types of creatures, with lyrics like, “Seein’ a frog, sittin’ in a fog. He’s carnivore…he’s an amphibian.” “Clamshell Clap” is one where Downing asks the listeners to clap along with her as she sings such lyrics as, “Clams sit on the ocean floor…clap clap clap open and shut.” Johnette Downing’s Fins and Grins is just the album for children to hear fun music and get some tips on the world and those who dwell in it.”

Sari N. Kent,

N’Orleans tunes “New Orleans Johnette Downing is back with another CD of tunes for kids, Fins and Grins. The CD ($15.00) from Wiggle Worm Records will be released this February—pre-Mardi Gras—and is dedicated to marine life, in particular animals of the New Orleans Aquarium of the Americas that perished during Hurricane Katrina.”