The Happy Racers Embrace Growing Kindie Genre

A few years ago songwriter/musician/producer Nathan Meckel wasn’t very excited when his father, publisher Mark Meckel, tried to convince him to record a children’s album. “I thought it was fun idea, but wasn’t 100 percent sold on it,” recalls the younger Meckel, “but then I had an epiphany that there are no walls with kids’ music. All the normal rules, like worrying about radio airplay, don’t apply. As long as the music is positive and fun, I can sing whatever I want and play any instrument I want.”

Today his band The Happy Racers is part of a burgeoning genre known as Kindie Rock—kid indie, which has an adult sound and child-friendly lyrics. The Happy Racers’ debut album Ready Set Go is vying for a Grammy nomination in the Best Children’s Album category. Mark has a strong history in the category, he published the song “Check Your Attitude” which was on this year’s winning compilation album, All About Bullies.

The Happy Racers project started in 2008 when Nathan and his two kids wrote “All My Friends” at the breakfast table, and he recorded it in his home studio. Mark then teamed Nathan with popular children’s book authors Barbara Joosse and Peter Reynolds, and songwriter Burton Collins to write songs for the album. Nathan and Joosse wrote “Lovabye Dragon,” which is getting airplay on Sirius/XM’s Kid’s Place Live and compliments her book by the same name.

Another track from the album, “I Can Do Anything,” coincides with new e-book Go Go Greta, written by Dana Satterwhite and narrated by Lisa Loeb. The interactive e-book app has a soundtrack that allows kids to turn on and off parts of the sound, such as the drums or guitar.

Nathan’s brother-in-law Mark Niemiec is a drummer and engineer who has been a big part of The Happy Racers. Their recent gigs include performing at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, KS with Jack Ingram. In keeping with the grown-up-geared kindie image, the band doesn’t wear costumes. Nathan says he shies away from anything “gimmicky” but he plans “to make the stage show more entertaining and elaborate as it grows.” The concerts have also helped him discover The Happy Racers’ prime demographic—the preteen set often coveted by marketers.

Up next, The Happy Racers’ first music video for the song “Old Robert’s Jig.”

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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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