Sandra Boynton established herself as an illustrator, author, and humorist in the '70s and '80s, and parlayed her charmingly kooky style into albums of "renegade children's music" starting in the '90s. She began her ongoing collaboration with composer Michael Ford with 1996's Rhinoceros Tap: 15 Seriously Silly Songs, an album of songs "for all ages except 43" that sold over 500,000 copies in the United States. That year, she also released Grunt: Pigorian Chant, a collection of Pig Latin plainchant songs attributed to the "simple pigs of Snouto Domoinko de Silo." Six years later, Boynton and Ford returned with Philadelphia Chickens, an "imaginary musical" that featured the Bacon Brothers, Patti LuPone, Scott Bakula, Natasha Richardson, and Kevin Kline among its performers. Selling close to a million copies, the album was also a New York Times Best Seller and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Musical Album for Children.
Released in 2005, Dog Train, another gold-selling album, paid homage to rock & roll and included cameos by Blues Traveler, Alison Krauss, and Hootie & the Blowfish, as well as a duet between Kate Winslet and Weird Al Yankovic. Two years later, Blue Moo celebrated '50s and '60s pop and rock with original songs sung by Brian Wilson, Davy Jones, and Neil Sedaka, among others. Going deeper into her quirky roots, Boynton's next release was 2010's Boléro Completely Unraveled, a version of Ravel's classic piece performed by an orchestra and 300 kazoo players (including Boynton). She reunited with Ford for 2013's Frog Trouble, a country-flavored offering that featured turns by Ryan Adams, Kacey Musgraves, Dwight Yoakam, and Mark Lanegan that became another New York Times Best Seller. ~ Heather Phares