Happy Land

Musical Tributes to Laura Ingalls Wilder


The Songs

What They Are Saying

Liner Notes


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The best CD I've purchased in five years..., August 9, 2006
By John Garrett

I bought it shortly after it came out, and have subsequently purchased four additional copies to give to family members.

One went to my mother, who introduced me to Laura Ingalls Wilder's books over 40 years ago.

One went to my 13 year old granddaughter, who is an aspiring violinist, and who I introduced to Laura Ingalls Wilder several years ago.

My daughter, my sister, and my father-in-law were the other recipients.

I can't emphasize enough how much I enjoy this has a permanent slot in my six disc changer, right next to "Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs Of Stephen Foster".

I'm sincerely hoping that Dale Cockrell can keep the great music coming, and am hoping for many subsequent volumes.

Music is an integral part of the Wilder books, as well as my personal life. This CD satisfies my soul both ways.

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What fun!

It's been just thrilling to see our 8 yr old re-reading Little House on the Prairie inspired by this CD and singing along as she comes to the titles when they turn up in the book. You can't miss getting this cd, it's sheer magic! If you & kids like Burl Ives, here's a CD in the same spirit, with a colorful array of moods, styles, singers and instrumentalists who will transport your entire family to Laura Ingalls Wilder's world through these wistful, sweet songs, right into that long-gone era of the West. Kids deserve quality & content along with fun & that's just what they get here. And take it along on long car rides! Great for whole family, great gift too! --Shiao Mao

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The music opens up the world of Laura Ingalls, August 7, 2006, By Galyn Martin (Nashville, TN)

I've been reading the "Little House" series to my five-year-old daughter and was thrilled to find this cd. It really makes Laura's world come alive. In fact, my daughter was certain that she was hearing Pa play the fiddle and Ma sing along.

We have played "Happy Land" continuously at our house, morning and night, since we bought it. You can't help but sing along to the rollicking version of "Oh! Susanna" and Andrea Zonn's ethereal voice makes "Sweet By and By" even sweeter. However, it wasn't until I heard Riders in the Sky sing "The Blue Juniata" that I realized just how wonderful this cd is. The night before I bought "Happy Land," we read a chapter in "Little House on the Prairie" and it was in that chapter that Pa played "The Blue Juniata." Hearing the music helped me capture the mood, the happy contentment, that the Ingalls must have felt that particular evening. “Happy Land” is a must for “Little House” fans, and folk and old-time music fans everywhere

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"a knock out! . . . the vibe and eclecticism really remind me of the ‘O Brother...’ soundtrack."
--Melanie L., Nashville, TN

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“...Maggie is re-reading Little House because of the CD, she stops reading when she gets to the mention of a song and sings along with text in hand. We've learned about Highland Mary and Robert Burns and all that, you've found a real devotee in Maggie. She's been glued to it all. I'm certainly going to give this CD as birthday present whenever I need to get one, maybe together with the book even....I adore watching our Maggie so moved by this.” --Agnes H.

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“Happy Land moves far beyond a mere sound recording. It actively engages the listener with memories of some of this country's most beloved, most treasured texts--the works of Laura Ingalls Wilder. As I sat listening to track after track, my two children listened attentively as they pretended to do other things. My son (age 9) explained and interpreted each track to my daughter (age 5) as he recalled references to each musical example in the [Wilder] texts. At one point during "Sweet By and By" my son burst out ‘Dad, that's Laura singing. That's exactly how I imagined Laura's voice!’ Happy Land accomplishes something very few recordings of American classics achieve—it gives new resonance to treasured texts and embellishes memories of childhood and youth. ‘There is a happy land’—and now we can add this recording to our family’s cherished artifacts!” --Greg Barz, Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University

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“Wow! The performance quality on all levels, from every artist is excellent. It is beautifully packaged and the music is moving, uplifting, informative, funny and very entertaining.”
--Odessa S., Nashville TN

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"Having grown up (at least since the age of 20) with many of the styles on this recording, from shape note to old-time fiddle to church hymn singing and Stephen Foster, this feels like the music of my life.

The virtues are many: the instrumental ensembles are rock solid, a special joy to hear; the soloists are amazing, in such appealing styles and such wonderful variety of approaches; and what a great touch to feature recordings of Pa's fiddling neighbor! Happy Land is a beautifully complete package, wedding scholarship with appealing performances, for the education and entertainment and enlightenment of all, topped by something truly ineffable—a sense of completeness and fulfillment.

I've been yearning for this for more than 20 years, since we first starting reading Laura Ingalls Wilder to our oldest daughter. No, make that for 52 years, since my first-grade teacher, Miss Good, at Southside Elementary School in Richland Center, Wisconsin, read us one chapter each day of The Long Winter, and I wondered how anyone survived those blizzards and what those songs might have sounded like. With deepest gratitude for the gift that carries me back to my childhood." --Deane L. Root, Professor and Chair
Department of Music, Director and Curator, Center for American Music, University of Pittsburgh

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"Happy Land really completes the Little House Books! So many times I have read the books to my two children and said “Oh, this is the part where Pa sings a song and plays a tune” but I won’t have to do that anymore! Happy Land can pop the words that Laura wrote to life and fill our reading experiences with wonderful music just like Laura must have imagined it when she wrote her memories of pioneer life! My ten year old daughter’s favorite songs from the CD are “Highland Mary” and “Barbara Allen” and my six year old son loves “Roll the Old Chariot Along”, I even heard them singing parts of the songs when they were playing and hanging out in their rooms! Thanks!" -- Keri S., La Center, Kentucky

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“Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) wrote a famous series of eight "Little House" books which trace her family's history through the west from 1867 to 1885. The books, published between 1932-1943, have become classics in American children's literature. Within her stories are references to 126 songs. There are songs from the parlor, stage, minstrel shows, church and school. Laura's guiding musical spirit was her singing and fiddling father, Charles "Pa" Ingalls. On this musical tribute, we are treated to contemporary renderings of 18 of the 126 referenced songs. The set recognizes the esteemed place that music-making once held within the lives of ordinary American families and pioneers.

In a sense, this concept album is a soundtrack for the books. Fans of the "Little House" books will especially thrill in being able to hear the music that was an integral part of pioneer life on the prairie. Dale Cockrell recruited well-known mandolinist Butch Baldassari to co-produce the project, and they were backed by a grant from Blair School of Music. Top Nashville musicians were enlisted. Participants include Riders in the Sky, Dave Olney, Andrea Zonn, Deborah Packard, Pat Enright, Doug Green, Keith Little, Jep Bisbee, John Mock, Butch Baldassari, Peggy Duncan Singers, Harpeth Valley Sacred Harp Singers, and The Princely Players. "Arkansas Traveler/Devil's Dream" and "Happy Land" are played by Pa's Fiddle Band (including various instrumentalists).

The result is a set of contemporary renditions of American folk music, a melting pot of hymns, minstrel show songs, spirituals and fiddle tunes. A 16-page CD booklet provides background about the songs and lyrics, where applicable. One should imagine the days before radio and television when music-making was a family endeavor, and the activity was pursued for fun, entertainment and intellectual pursuit. For that same reason, families today will obtain plenty of enjoyment together with the rediscovery of such classics as "The Girl I Left Behind Me," "Oh! Susanna," "Highland Mary," "Barbara Allen," and others. New discoveries are also awaiting within the 52 minutes on this disc. Songs like Captain Jinks, Oft in the Stilly Night, The Big Sunflower, Uncle Sam's Farm, and Promised Land deserve a much wider listen. The title cut, "Happy Land," appears more often in Wilder's books than any other hymn and came to epitomize family strength and opposition to unruly outside influences.

Wilder's eight children books inspired two television series - one that ran from 1974-1983, and the other which had a limited airing in 2005. With this CD in the schools, librarians and reading teachers can work hand-in-hand with music teachers to help kids discover a rich part of American's musical heritage and legacy. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)

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The Pioneers spirit revived!, July 30, 2006
By Miriam (Israel)

This is the one needed addition for the Little House Books readers to sing along with Pa's Fiddle!

The songs are performed in the old way, with no electronic arrangements, and the fiddle's soul is in every note. If you close your eyes, you can just see a little house snowed in by a blizzard, with merry people inside, dancing and singing along with the fiddle. I am not an American, I have never been there, and I can still see it all just as if I were there a 150 years ago...

What adds to the songs is a booklet with the lyrics and the citations from Laura's books where the songs appear, including comments and stories about these songs.

I wish there were more of Pa's songs available!

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“Happy Land” enhances the Little House Experience!
January 2006, by D. Keena (Webster Groves, MO)

I've been reading the Little House Series for almost 35 years now - first to my own children and now to the second graders at my local public school who adore it as expected. For years I have been frustrated when I came to the chorus and verses of the many songs in each of the books. All I could do was read the lyrics, which anyone knows is a pitiful substitution for a song. Finally, I told the children I would do some research and see if I could find the music and learn the tunes for them. What a thrill to find "Happy Land" offered on your website and what a fabulous CD! I just got back from the 2nd grade classroom in which I volunteer each week and they were as excited as I when we played "Arkansas Traveler" as we read the chapter, Dance at Grandpa's!!! How thrilled they were to be hearing the very song to which Grandma and Uncle George were dancing! They even got up and started "jigging", playing imaginary fiddles, tapping their toes, square dancing ----oh, it was great! This is education at its best - children reveling in a real life experience from a time long gone, but full of such value for us all today. Of the seventeen songs recorded on this CD, only three are from the first Little House Book, "Little House In the Big Woods"; but those three -Arkansas Traveler, Devil's Dream and Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines- are so well performed that the children are begging for more. One child asked if they could forget about recess and just stay in and dance to the fiddles! How wonderful to know that there will be more of these period pieces that Pa played as we progress through the series. I wish the publisher of the Little House books would invite these wonderful musicians to record ALL the songs and put the CDs inside each book's cover to make the reading experience as total as Laura would want it to be. If the technology had been available to her, I know that's what she would have done! Meanwhile, buy this CD for anyone who loves the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. It is the missing link that will make your Little House experience complete.

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A Hit in the Second Grade, January 26, 2009
By Connie D. Gaines

I've read the Laura Ingalls books to my second graders every year for forty years. They love this music. (and so do I)

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Happy Land in the Piano Studio, February 3, 2006
By S. Howe (Minnesota)

My own children and I have read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books several times and now we are really enjoying the Happy Land CD. In my piano studio my students have individual lessons plus a music lab. This year all of my students (in grades 1-12) listened to the Happy Land CD while following the liner notes and they thoroughly enjoyed the quality music performances. Many students are passionate about the books and were delighted to hear the music. They all found the CD an enjoyable way to learn something about American music of the nineteenth century.

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“...Wonderful and amazing! ...Deborah Packard

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...What a voice! ...she goes right to the heart of that song! ...I love it.” --George Todd, Middlebury College, Middlebury VT