From Gambier to the GrammysGAMBIER, Ohio (December 23, 2003) Zak Morgan once caused a sizable stir in Gambier with his performances at the Pirates' Cove, including a song about being flashed by three sisters on the highway. Morgan graduated in 1994, but he's still on stage, enjoying an altogether different kind of stir. His album When Bullfrogs Croak has been nominated for a 2004 Grammy Award as Best Musical Album for Children.
Blending comic lyrics, folk melodies, and a whimsy that tickles adults as well as kids, Morgan's songs have been praised by critics as "infectiously funny." Some have compared him to that modern master of children's verse, Shel Silverstein.
No topics are too mundane or eccentric for Morgan to tackle. He sings about chicken pox, and he sings about a boy who explodes after eating a 10-foot-tall banana. This last piece is called "The Brobdingnagian Banana Blues," a nod to Gulliver's Travels and Morgan's English major at Kenyon.
After graduating, Morgan worked for four years in sales and marketing for Recorded Books Inc., an audio book publisher in New York City. Then he abandoned corporate comforts for a gamble on a performing career. He lived off his savings, tapped into his sales skills, and combined those skills with an innate knack for song, silliness, and connection with kids.
His debut album, Bloom (1999), won national recognition, including the "Best Children's Album" prize from the Just Plain Folks Music Awards. When Bullfrogs Croak came out this past June and got rave reviews. The CD received the 2003 Children's Music Web Award for "Best Recording for Older Children," and then the Grammy nomination, a rare feat for an independent release.
Morgan, who is based in Cincinnati, performs about 200 times a year in theaters, libraries, and schools throughout the country. He sells his CDs at shows and through the Internet at www.cdbaby.com as well as his own site, www.zakmorgan.com.
On February 8, Morgan will learn whether he wins the music industry's highest honor. But in many respects, he's already achieved much more. "Many people said I was nuts and insisted, 'You can't, you can't you can't,'" Morgan says. "But I've worked very very hard and it really has paid off. I'm doing something I really love to do."