One World, One Kid

The holiday season is upon us, and if you have someone on your gift list—especially a youngster, but really, anyone—whom you'd like to introduce to the wonders of world music, I've got just the ticket. And even if not, read on, because this story will do you good.

Last year, Skyler Pia decided to do something to make his friend Erik, who has cancer, feel better. So, sitting down at his computer with a stack of CDs, he set out to record a "radio show," where he'd play DJ and spin his favorite tunes.

Skyler selected a broad range of songs from all over the world—Africa, Europe, South America, North America, and Australia—and did informative, amusing intros that provided background on the song, or the instruments, or where it was from, or all of the above.

Oh, by the way, Skyler was in first grade, just six years old.

My son Evan and I are in the same YMCA Adventure Guides "tribe" as Skyler (his tribe name, by the way, is Burning Disc). At a tribe meeting toward the end of last year, his dad handed out CDs titled Sky's Radio Show to each of us, and told us about how and why it came to be. He also told us that Skyler did this all on his own, with no help from anyone. Furthermore, he said, this wasn't unusual, as Sky was always putting together compilations as well as composing his own music.

Six years old, remember.

Listening to Sky's show on the drive home from the meeting, I was thrilled (as was Evan) by the great music he'd selected, and stunned to find a first grader schoolin' me on music.

Skyler's dad also told us that Bonnie Raitt had heard Sky's CD, and had passed it on to the folks at Putumayo, who were interested in releasing it.

And so they have. It's not Sky's Radio Show anymore, it's called Putumayo Presents: One World, One Kid. With only eight cuts, it's shorter than the original, which had over 20. (Then again, on Sky's Radio Show no song was played in its entirety, perfect for an album by a kid for kids—think "short attention span.") Speaking of only, it's only $5.98 on Amazon, where you can pre-order it (it'll be released on 11/22). All proceeds will go to the Make A Wish Foundation—which Skyler selected because they helped his friend Erik.

And yes, the picture on the cover does look a lot like Skyler—portrait of the artist as a very young man. Remember that name, I'll bet you'll be hearing more from him in the future, and here's your chance to get his first album just as it's coming out.