Songwriter and Storyteller Mark Shepard is back! Well he never really left. He just moved. A lot. And explored a bunch of new ways to express ideas through written, spoken and sung stories that celebrate cultural diversity and tolerance, empowerment, creativity, kindness, empathy, through the multiple art forms of Drums! Songs! and Stories!
Well known throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, Shepard, a native of the Hudson Valley of NY, cut back his performing schedule significantly since 2009. “Partly it was the economy, partly it was time to explore some other areas of interest and an opportunity to build some new skill sets”, says Shepard. “I also moved a bunch of times!”
In the process of taking a step back from performing, Shepard wrote the lyrics and music for 2 children’s musicals which were performed at the NY Musical Theater Festival (Letters To Daddy & BeautyFull – both scripted by Jill Jaysen) as well as 2 other musicals that have not yet been produced. In addition he developed “The Bully Proof Kid” program and authored a book by the same title that is available on Amazon.com.
“For a while the only performing I was doing was for kids and family audiences. I love that, however, I have written over 500 songs and most of them are NOT kid songs,” he laughs.
“I started developing my new program called, “The Bully Proof Kid” and I could not get many of the local schools to book it because I didn’t have a PhD in Bullying prevention statistics or something… UNTIL a school in Arkansas found me on the web. I was able to book full week of programs down there and in the process found a cool, non-denominational “new thought” church called Unity. The ideas of Unity deeply correspond with the same ideas and principles I had been exploring in my own life and so I vowed that when I got back to Albany NY, I would see if I could find a Unity church in Albany. The very next weekend I found an amazing community and basically insisted on being a regular part of their music team.
“Having a weekly community of people who enjoyed my spiritual music was deeply fulfilling and I released 4 CD’s of my “spiritual but not religious songs” between 2012 and 2014. Writing and rehearsing each week for that plus building my Peak Performance NLP practice helping people overcome various forms of anxiety just kept me crazy busy.
“For a while, I thought that the school assembly part of my career was kind of over until a middle school in CT booked me for a program recently celebrating cultural tolerance and diversity with a focus on African drums and stories. I had a little bit of an opening in my schedule and so I took the gig. It was just a ton of fun!
“Going from doing almost 100 gigs a year to just a few really gave me space to come back to the school programs and assemblies with a freshness and appreciation that is truly invigorating.
So if you are interested in a school assembly program that is as entertaining as it is educational and even transformative, use the handy contact form and let’s talk!