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Cincinnati CityBeat – There is a perfect formula for children’s music; like with kids’ films these days, many artists try to hard to make their albums “parent friendly” and tend to go overboard, while those who “dumb things down” tend to be the most annoying. Morgan’s gift is finding the perfect balance.
The Cincinnati Enquirer – The beauty of Morgan’s style is that adults are entertained as well, chuckling along to Morgan’s inventive vocabulary. The hokey pokey, or Barney, this is not. It owes more to the storytelling of Shel Silverstein, or Roald Dahl, Morgan’s two main influences.
Shakefire.com – “A stellar album that was one part musical genius and another part fantastic storytelling. The mastery of the album though is Morgan’s ability to narrate story through his songs. Not only are these whimsical little tunes with quirky tales interwoven between each note, but amazing stories that have depth, detail, and a masterful storyteller.”
Cherry Blossoms – “This album has it all. The music is tight, the words have depth. It’s fun but it’s also educational.”
ABCD Diaries – “A fantastic way to introduce kiddos to many different styles of music. These songs are educational and funny, the perfect combination in my book. A+!”
Mommas Bacon – “Catchy, interesting and even educational music to show children that learning is fun and being creative is important.”
Mommy on a Shoestring – “Rich with terrific stories that will only get better the more kids listen.”
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Who is Zak Morgan?
GRAMMY nominee Zak Morgan’s unique brand of children’s music delivers songs and poems with wit and charm that inspire and tickle the funny bones of children and adults alike.
When he is not writing and recording, Zak performs family concerts throughout the country. His live performances are always filled with laughter and warmth as he encourages children to read, imagine and believe in themselves. Morgan has released five critically acclaimed records and one DVD for children and was nominated for a GRAMMY in 2003 – a rare feat for an independent artist. Morgan currently resides in Cincinnati, OH.
Morgan sounds a bit like singer Cat Stevens, and his storytelling is an inspired cross between Dr. Seuss-style word games and the sly, edginess of Shel Silverstein. In short, it’s children’s music that adults can love.
– Rick Bird, Cincinnati Post
What is Zak’s Inspiration?
Grandpa Rooney kissed the Blarney Stone and was the best storyteller I ever met. On summer nights in the 1970’s, he would let my cousins and me stay up past bed time drinking 7-Up and eating Lorna Doones and sherbet while he told us stories about Suzy and Joe, a brother and sister who were always having adventures and getting into trouble. Along with being a marvelous storyteller, Grandpa had many other special gifts. Most memorable were his magnetic feet, which enabled him to walk up the sides of buildings and upside down along the ceiling. He was also very brave and once caught a lion by the ears with his bare hands in his backyard after all of the animals escaped from the zoo.
The most amazing story my grandpa ever told me was about how he met and married Grandma Lucille. In the early 1930s there was a race to see which lucky woman would get to marry Grandpa. If no one caught him, Grandpa would be allowed to stay a bachelor his whole life. Grandpa was a very fast runner and wasn’t worried, but he practiced just in case. When Grandpa saw the long line of ladies on the day of the race, he knew he would have to run very fast indeed. The starter fired the pistol and as the race progressed, it looked as though Grandpa would win for sure. There were no women in sight as he rounded the last turn. Little did he know that Grandma Lucille had taken a shortcut and was hiding in the bushes near the finish line. At the last second she jumped out of the bushes and onto his back and the rest is history. Grandpa soon realized how lucky he was that Grandma Lucille had taken the shortcut. She is a glorious grandma who sings like an angel. Each night after Grandpa told us a great story, we would lie in bed and listen to Grandma play the piano and sing downstairs as we fell asleep.
My grandparents are two of my biggest influences and The Candy Machine is in large part a tribute to them.
George and Lucy Rooney wedding, September 14th, 1940.
Q & A with Zak
I have always loved music and writing and I wrote my first song when I was in the 3rd grade in 1978. It went like this:
Rain and slush and icy hail,
It makes me feel rather stale.
When I turned to go outside
I slipped and I fell and I broke my hide.
I got up, my pants were soaked.
I was so mad that I could have croaked.
The story’s done, can you understand
That was 32 years ago and I still haven’t come up with the last line.
My mom loves classical music and my dad loves bluegrass and old time country music so I heard a lot of music from those genres when I was a child. Also, on summer nights I would fall asleep to the sound of my Grandma Lucille playing the piano and singing opera. If you listen and look carefully, you will probably hear all of these influences in my music.
My Baby Does the Hanky Panky by Tommy James & The Shondells (3 years old)
Hound Dog by Elvis Presley (3rd Grade)
I Love a Rainy Night by Eddie Rabbitt (4th grade)
The Beach Boys entire catalog (4th grade)
The Mickey Mouse Club (with Annette Funicello), Mister Rogers, Speed Racer, SWAT, Emergency, Leave it to Beaver, The Lone Ranger, Batman, The Dukes of Hazzard, CHIPS, Little House on the Prairie
Cat Stevens, Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, Stan Rogers, and John Gorka.
I like music when it’s good, no matter what genre. I love intelligent lyrics and pretty melodies.
I have a brother named Alex who is 4 years younger and a sister named Katharine who is 8 years younger.
No, we were all little angels, except for sometimes.
Yes, I have loved to read since I was very little. It all started with my parents reading to me and teaching me how to make pictures with my imagination. The first book I ever read by myself was Go Dog, Go! “Do you like my hat?” “No, I do not like that hat!” This still cracks me up. I read lots of Encyclopedia Brown and Hardy Boys. I couldn’t get enough of suspense. Then one day my dad gave me the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and I was blown away by the imagination, characters and mischievous humor. Even at that young age I was very aware that the author respected my intelligence and I keep this in mind when I write songs for children.
Roald Dahl, Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, George Selden, Katherine Patterson, and E.B. White
Once a year my parents, brother and sister and I would pile into the family station wagon and drive all the way from Cincinnati to Florida. We would listen to bluegrass music on the radio as we drove through Kentucky to Chattanooga, Tennessee where we always stopped at the same Howard Johnson’s hotel. It had an indoor pool with a waterfall and a water slide that looked like you were in the rainforest. The next day we would drive to Disney World and have the time of our lives.
Twix, Snickers and Kit Kats.
Yes, many of them are. Except the one about nose picking, which is only loosely autobiographical.