Fans of songwriter and singer Elliott Park are getting younger.
With three children’s albums, two “Sesame Street” segments and other kid-related projects stacked like LEGOs on his resume, the Clyde native who earned a Billboards No.1 songwriting credit in the country music with the single “I Loved Her First” is creating new success in a different niche.
“I’m going to kind of get back into the campaign world and see what happens, but I’m still getting withdrawn and distracted by another project that’s cool,” Park said.
Part of the appeal of making children’s songs and videos is aimed at a different demographic in the same effort. Tucked away in Park’s songs, many with catchy music and airy lyrics, is something deeper “where I nod or nod at parents,” Park said.
A recent example is “The Mouth”, on the extended play album of the same title released in June.
“I can drink juice, sip soup, snigger, laugh out loud.
The brain makes the words but they run through me
The official spokesperson for the whole body. “
The strategy is “sort of like the Disney model of making the two hour theater play as fun for parents. The challenge is to try and make it smart enough on a deeper level for parents and adults to enjoy it. “said Park.
At times the production is also multigenerational, with Park tapping into the vocal and visual talents of his four children.
Although Park first found fame in country music, his storytelling style is atypical of top 40 radio songs, diverging from the popular broadcast formula today.
Beyond talent, however, he has three factors in his favor: his ability to record and produce music, the explosion of digital downloads and recording his work to secure financial credit.
“It’s hard for songwriters, creators, and artists to collect all the revenue that you know happens in the ‘Wild West’ of digital streaming and stuff. But on the other hand, it’s created so many genres and sub-genres and sub-genres of sub-genres that it’s exciting, “Park said.
“There are so many crossovers, gray areas and mixes of music to choose from. I both love and hate these moments in music.”
Park’s divergence in children’s music began in 2010 with his inaugural album “Fly Boy,” a collection of songs magnifying both the seemingly mundane and monumental moments of family life. Although this is an adult album, its ability to create songs with a dual appeal for different age groups is evident in tunes such as “Simple Song”.
At first, a childish solo voice gives way to the weathered voice of Park accompanied by a banjo. As the song progresses, the instrumentation expands and the vocals become a chorus.
“Are you stocked up for a winter of despair,
Are you waiting for a meteor to burn your hair?
Well if you ever feel the urge
To take a break from your funeral song,
Here is a small room to keep,
A simple song your heart can sing.
Not too long, rather short and sweet,
Like birds in apple trees,
Let the world hear your simple song. “
SiriusXM marks the spot
Fast forward six years, when a friend stumbled upon Kids Place Live Channel 78 on SiriusXM and encouraged Park to contact the channel.
He did not have a SiriusXM subscription at the time. After some research, however, he sent a CD to the channel. Shortly thereafter, certain tracks made the rotation of the broadcast.
“Two or three months later I received a check in the mail,” he said. “… That was a pretty good check. I was, ‘Dude, this is legit,’” Park said.
This introduction to the children’s music market came shortly after Park and his wife, Pam, and their three daughters, Anna, 19, Autumn, 17 and April, 15, moved in 2017 to Columbia, Tennessee, near Nashville.
Their eldest son, John, is an Abilene-based videographer.
The transition came after years of traveling between Clyde, where he operated a recording studio for a time, and Music Row in Nashville.
“I had every intention of coming here, finding a publisher and getting back to writing country music. That was the plan,” Park said in a phone interview from his home.
“But this material that I sent to Kids Place worked so well. I kind of saw the possibility of what could be done, what can be done there financially, so I kind of changed my mind. speed when I got here. “
He called the children “a blank slate”, and on this canvas he uses a variety of instruments to explore musical styles.
“They just like things because they like them. They don’t have to like them because it’s the popular thing to say or whatever,” Park said of the audience. children. “It’s just a bunch of unpretentious fans. It’s just very open to musical experimentation, which is really cool.”
All with children
In 2018 he released the children’s album “Just Be”.
The song “All Ways” has been featured on Kids Place Live for over two months and has held No. 1 for two consecutive weeks. It also won first place in the children’s music category of the International Songwriting Competition that year.
The album “Songs of My Daughters” followed in 2020. After occasionally providing backing vocals on previous tracks, the girls took on a starring role, together or in a duet with Park.
In 2020, Park also reached No. 1 for three weeks on “Kids Place Live” with her single “Love Will See Us Through”, starring 8-year-old Lilah Benjamin. Originally released in time for Valentine’s Day, the song became an anthem during the pandemic, he said.
This year’s EP “The Mouth” is in collaboration with 8 Pound Gorilla, a new label of children’s records.
Park’s music is available on his website elliottpark.net, and “The Mouth” is available on multiple streaming platforms, including Spotify and Pandora.
Some of his songs are also available for the Yoto Player, a screenless device developed by a London-based company and introduced in the United States, he said. Kids can play music and stories using credit card sized cards, or listen to ad-free radio-style content.
“It’s kind of a throwback to a time when it wasn’t that device-oriented,” Park said.
Park found another creative outfit after teaming up with John on a stop-motion video for “Baby Snake”. The whimsical song is about a little boy whose excitement at finding a snake turns into disappointment when he realizes it is “just a worm.”
The “Just Something Fun” for Father and Son project has garnered over a million views since it was uploaded to YouTube in January 2018. John has since made videography a career, working with Columbia Records, Texas musicians Koe Wetzel (of Stephenville), 2021 visitor Abilene Parker McCollum and others, Park said.
Following:Elliott Park duo with 8-year-old captures a different side of Valentine’s Day
“We were trying to kill time over the holidays and went to Walmart and bought some clay and a dry erase board. That’s what we came up with out of the blue,” Park said of the video.
The “Baby Snake” video caught the attention of an independent “Sesame Street” producer, who in early 2020 hired Park to do a song and video for “B is for Block,” a 60-second segment. .
However, as the pandemic limited travel, Park focused on music. A seasoned team from “Sesame Street” designed the video, which aired in the spring of 2021.
“They were happy with it, and that led to another video that I just finished a few months ago,” Park said.
On “P is for Pretend”, the music and the stop-motion paper animation capture the escapades of two children playing in the rain with a cardboard box. Park, helped by Autumn, used multiplane camera technology pioneered by Walt Disney.
Ten photo frames were needed to create a second of action, which meant over 1,100 photographs, he said. The project lasted about three months.
“There are probably ways to do it with software and let the computer do a lot of the work, but I’m kind of a traditionalist and I kind of wanted to do something that would allow me to differentiate between analog and digital, ”Park said. noted.
Father and daughter also collaborated on the stop-motion video for the song “The Mouth”, using clay.
Park said he enjoys working with his children. But it’s a business arrangement, which included registering his daughters with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists to ensure they receive royalties.
“I wanted to do this to be fair, and so that they could actually see that they can do something professionally, if they want to, in the music business and be properly set up to do it,” Park said. .
The girls’ enthusiasm for keyboard and mic collaboration intensified when they received their first checks and hit it off on SiriusXM, he said. He also asks – not demands – that they spend time in the studio with him.
“They will. They will make sure their homework is done and we will spend a few hours in the evening together,” he said.
The payoff is more than financial for Park.
“We’re having fun with the kids stuff right now. And, working with my own kids has been a blast the last few years,” Park said.
His bond with children
Park credits his grandparents and his childhood in a creative environment with his ability to tell stories musically.
“My grandma was the best storyteller I’ve ever known and an amazing musician. She was just full of life. Same with my grandpa on my dad’s side,” Park said.
He turned to a way of storytelling “that doesn’t reveal too much, and let the listener get involved, with prompts and clues to set up the ‘big finish,'” Park said. .
His goal in children’s music is to foster that older style of communication and interaction that doesn’t demean the listener.
“One of my greatest joys is seeing a child’s eyes light up when his imagination starts to take over and he becomes an active partner in a story song – doing what I didn’t for him. not explain, “Park said.
Laura Gutschke is a general assignment journalist and food columnist and manages online content for The Reporter-News. If you enjoy local news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.