Typically Amy and I are pretty sympatico on our musical opinions, but we've never quite seen eye-to-eye on Berkner. (Though we've never actually "talked" about Laurie in any sense.) But I think the thing that tweaked me about Amy's post is twofold:
1. Laurie's not talented
2. Laurie's not "indie" (and that somehow is bad)
Amy's view is that there are "numerous other artists whose talent for writing and performing kids' music far surpass Laurie's." Taste is, of course, subjective, but I can't think of many artists for preschoolers who are better than Laurie -- she writes good melodies, lyrics, and has one heck of a voice (if you think she can't sing a "regular" song, check out her duet on "Happy Trails" with Buck Howdy on his Giddyup! album). In her videos (don't know about her concerts), she has an engaging personality. (OK, her albums are a bit underproduced, I'll grant you that.)
Her focus is a bit narrower than other artists who might try to hit the elementary school crowd, and I wouldn't play her albums for myself like I might with some other kids' music artists, but Laurie is very, very good at what she does and I'm not sure who'd rank above Laurie for the preschool set. Raffi, perhaps.
As for the "indie" argument, I've always found that argument rather tired. "Indie" has always meant more than the source of the music -- it's meant the approach. But, taking the argument at face value, is it true?
First off, Razor and Tie would qualify as an "indie" label for most people ("New York-based Razor & Tie is one of the fastest growing independent entertainment companies in the United States." -- from Razor and Tie's website). If it's somehow not an independent label, that means such artists as Elizabeth Mitchell (Smithsonian Folkways), the Terrible Twos (Vagrant/Paquito), Gustafer Yellowgold (Little Monster), or Peter Himmelman (Rounder) don't count as "indie," either. "Doing their own marketing" isn't a good way of describing "indie," either, as artists such as Justin Roberts, Dan Zanes, and Brady Rymer all have talented publicity people working for them.
Even if you disagree with my definitions and think Razor and Tie is not "indie", the simple fact is that Berkner is recording her albums on her own dime -- she's just using Razor and Tie for the "production and distribution" of her Two Tomatoes albums. She's like 99% of kids' artists out there -- just with a far, far better distribution arrangement, and one that I guarantee most would take. It's sort of like the Wiggles discussion...
Amy does bring up a good point regarding marketing to kids, and I have no disagreement there.
So I still think Amy's fabulous and lovely. But in this case, I'm gonna have to disagree. Thoughts?