Iowa Alumni Magazine | April 2008 | Reviews

Ralph's World: Ralph Covert

By Kathryn Howe
A big kid at heart, this Iowa alumnus creates his own musical universe.

Parents from coast to coast can't say enough about Ralph Covert, 84BA. At last, someone has created children's music that doesn't make grown-ups want to poke their eyeballs out with a sharp stick.

The Chicago-based indie rocker/songwriter, sometimes called the Paul McCartney of his genre, takes kid songs to a whole new level with a cleverness and eclectic musical style that spans rock, punk, folk, even rhythm & blues. With seven CDs in his "Ralph's World" series—including Green Gorilla & Me (nominated in the Best Musical Album for Children category of the 2005 Grammys)—Covert blends smart lyrics with instrumental arrangements that appeal to music lovers of all ages (find out more at

"I've never heard of a green gorilla, but there's one sitting here on my couch." One of the memorable lyrics from best-selling children's musician Ralph Covert.

Covert's songs are real, quirky, imaginative, fun. On his Grammy-nominated disc, he sings about green gorillas that eat red bananas and throw blue tomatoes; about sailing a raft down a mighty river; invisible friends; the importance of special, quiet places of one's own; and playground shenanigans.

Other album favorites include The Amazing Adventures of Kid Astro, Peggy's Pie Parlor, and Happy Lemons. A new release, titled The Rhyming Circus, debuts this May. He also writes musicals and books for children, including 2007's Sawdust and Spangles.

Covert also fronts a "grown-up" band called the Bad Examples, but it was his daughter Fiona's birth and his participation in a "Wiggleworms" music class that led to a foray into children's music. "The experiences that young children have through music and stories deeply shape their worldview; to be a part of that is pretty remarkable," says Covert, who approaches his musical storytelling much like children explore the world—with a sense of play and adventure. "With kids' music, there are no boundaries, only the limits of my imagination."