Like Nimbit, Kid Pan Alley is all about empowering people through music. But unlike Nimbit, Kid Pan Alley is quite an analog affair, and targeted to a suitably younger demographic evocative of the outfit’s name. KPA was founded some 14 years ago by Paul Reisler. His vision is to instill musical creativity, teamwork, and confidence in folks by getting them rolling early—while they’re still impressionable youngsters.
It’s working—and it’s not just kids who are taking notice. To date, the organization has fostered 2,500 original songs that have been performed by over 35,000 children. Some KPA projects have included world-renouned artists including Delbert McClinton, Sissy Spacek, Cracker, Amy Grant, Kix Brooks, Raul Malo, Suzy Bogguss, the Nashville Chamber Orchestra—and the organization sports recognition in the way of Parents’ Choice and NAPPA Gold awards, 6 ASCAP Foundation awards and a Grammy nom.
This recognition and growth is due in no small part to the key element that that separates Kid Pan Alley from a lot of other youth music programs: the children are writing their own songs. Paul finds that kids are better collaborators than most adults—perhaps because they’ve yet to “develop” the sort of ego and self-importance we associate with a lot of adults; creatively, kids’ malleable brains are not yet bound by the rules-based blinders of adulthood. These children are encouraged to produce in an off-the-cuff, fun spirit—and even quieter kids are seen to light up like Christmas trees at the opportunity to contribute to a song.
KPA’s Nimbit store offers collected works from no less than 13 region-specific Kid Pan Alley residencies, as well as four collections, including the Grammy-nominated Kid Pan Alley Nashville, and the perhaps misleadingly-titled Unreleased Favorites.
Kid Pan Alley is Kids’ music, by and for kids—and once you’ve heard it, you may begin to feel that there’s something a little sideways about the notion of children’s music being written by adults.
Interested in getting Kid Pan Alley rolling in your neighborhood? Click here.
Check out this video for a ton of musical kids who are equal parts adorable and confident: