North Texas Daily

Denton Public Library hosts San Antonio-based children’s singer Will Parker

Denton Public Library hosts San Antonio-based children’s singer Will Parker

Denton Public Library hosts San Antonio-based children’s singer Will Parker
June 27
20:00 2018

While libraries are portrayed as being silent and solely a bastion for reading and studying, this was not the case at Denton’s Emily Fowler Public Library on June 25.

In the library’s upper floor, music and laughs poured out into the otherwise quiet library as a result of a special event that hosted children’s singer and songwriter Will Parker.

Parker, 28, is a Texas native born in Abilene and now lives and works in San Antonio. Parker has a bachelor’s in theater and a master’s in teaching from Trinity University. While he said he has always had an interest in music, it was only eight years ago that he started writing music, and six years since he started performing for children.

“In college after writing a song called ‘Toy Dinosaurs’ that I did not intend to be for kids, I realized it would be great for kids,” Parker said. “Then I realized that some of the other songs I had written would be good for kids, too.”

While Parker originally started performing for kids during the summer when he wasn’t teaching theater at the San Antonio high school he worked at, he quit last fall after four years of teaching to pursue music. This transition was sparked when Parker figured out he could make music full-time and by his intuition telling him to follow this new career.

Ever since Parker learned to play guitar at age 12, he knew writing songs and playing the guitar would be something he always did but not something he would go on to later pursue a career in. Not only did Parker never think he would do music as a job, but it was never something he was interested in and instead focused on helping kids through teaching.

“My guess is that I will continue to teach in some capacity, but it probably won’t be full-time,” Parker said. “I know that music for kids is a very important part of my overall mission in life.”

Will Parker role plays as an animal to give the crowd a unique experience. Jessika Hardy

Since he has started singing and entertaining kids with his music, Parker has been able to travel all across the south-central portion of the United States, with shows mainly in Texas and Oklahoma while still branching out into other states. During these tours across the region, Parker cuts down his travel costs by couch-surfing through a website.

As Parker looks toward the future, he still intends to tour in the same region, but starting this fall he is moving to Connecticut to start going to graduate school for a degree in theology. And while his tours will bring him back to the south for the summer, Parker plans to also perform during the school year up north, viewing this move as an expansion to his brand rather than a reset on his career.

The future for Parker after graduate school — while not set in stone — is clear for him: Parker said he is currently contemplating a return to teaching in schools as a chaplain rather than a theater teacher. Or, if his dreams do come true, starting a show for kids, drawing on his love and respect for his hero Mr. Rogers.

“In the long term, I would like to be as much like Mr. Rogers as possible,” Parker said. “Fred Rogers is one of my all-time heroes and my icon, and I would love to eventually, after graduate school, create some sort of children’s show.”

The success that Parker has had, which has allowed these dreams to come to fruition, can be partially attributed to his successful performance at a performer showcase two years ago. These showcases allow libraries and other organizations to see a wide variety of performers back-to-back so they can see who they are interested in inviting to their events.

“Librarians in the area can come to a library and see a lot of different library performers, and they can book a lot of the shows right then,” Parker said. “In 2017, because of that showcase, I was able to book about 45 shows. I didn’t do the showcase this year, but I already had a lot of connections and I already knew where I was going, and a lot of people wanted to have me back.”

According to Kerol Harrod, a children’s librarian at the Emily Fowler Public Library, it is these shows and the subsequent referrals that libraries give each other that helps form the event lineup for the library. And while the library does not always have performers like Will Parker, there are other events aimed for people of all ages.

“We design these things so kids are learning all the time,” Harrod said. “They may not know it, the parents may not exactly know it, but what we are doing in there is incorporating what we have learned in our education, so by the time that they reach kindergarten they have all the tools they need to learn to read.”

The goal of Harrod and the Emily Fowler Library as a whole is to aid people of all ages in reading and engaging in the community. In this effort, the library expands into the community with events for businesses and attractions, such as attending a literacy day at a local business or having a story time at the local water park.

“My kids love all the library events,” said Natasha Red, a local parent from neighboring city Krum. “Every season that the calendar comes out, I’ll be sure to take one and put it in my calendar right away.”

The main thing Harrod wishes more people knew is how much money the library could save them with all of its services, ranging from e-books to the ability to stream movies and shows from their website. And while the library has adapted to having many online sources, Harrod still stands by the idea that if one really wanted to know their community, they would visit their local library.

“I think libraries are a super important social service,” Parker said. “Often one of the first steps for a kid reading a book is checking out a book, and if we can have these shows that draw people in, it is more likely that they will check out some books before they leave.”

Will Parker gives the audience an acoustic performance as he performs his latest album, ‘Animal Maniac.’ Jessika Hardy

Featured Image: Will Parker takes the children into a rock-and-roll environment as he jumps up and down with audience. Jessika Hardy

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Shane Monaco

Shane Monaco

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