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Pop : AIDS Benefit Emphasizes Songs for Kids

September 28, 1992|CHRIS WILLMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

"Mary's in the house! . . . Go Ma- ry , go Mary go! Go Ma- ry , go Mary go!"

Although you may be forgiven for not immediately making the connection, the Mary being cheered on here and the Mary who had a little lamb are one and the same. Sheila E., the percussively oriented perpetrator of this pop nursery-rhyme update, was just one of about 20 artists putting a hyper-contemporary spin on children's songs at a Saturday afternoon Universal Amphitheatre benefit concert.

The two-hour show--as well as the Disney cable special, album and videotape that will result from it come February--was designed as a fund- and awareness-raiser for the Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Last year, Disney released a compilation album titled "For Our Children" to benefit the same charity. But, whereas that charming LP mostly featured artists with stronger name recognition among parental record buyers (like Springsteen and Dylan) than the ostensible kid target audience, this follow-up lineup had a decided bent toward teen hip-hop.

"Who's Gerardo?" asked one mom, perusing the program.

"Geronimo? I dunno," said dad.

But the little girls understood. Hard as it was to reconcile pro-promiscuity rapper Gerardo on a stage with that many wholesome, pre-pubescent extras, he did keep his shirt on--and his female dancers away--during his "Loopty-Loo."

Unfortunately, Paula Abdul's highly anticipated opening slot turned out to be merely a cheesy video of her 'n' the tykes hoofing through "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah," followed by a brief, non-singing show intro. Kris Kross then initiated the real live action with "Krossed Out Version of a Nursery Rhyme," a clear highlight for most of the minors present.

Other attractions included Randy Newman (an old-fashioned "I've Been Working on the Railroad"), Bobby McFerrin (a condensed trip through "The Wizard of Oz"), and balladeers Michael Bolton ("You Are My Sunshine"), Celine Dion ("Beauty and the Beast"), Salt 'N' Pepa ("This Old Man"), Melissa Etheridge and Patti LaBelle.

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