When Greenville Public Library announced that Zak Morgan would perform as part of their Family Fun Day series, I wrote the date on my calendar and told everyone I know who has children or grandchildren to go see Zak because he is brilliant and talented, and his audiences are sure to have a really good time.
When I joined my niece and her two young sons at Zak’s performance on the library lawn last week, the Cincinnati-based artist easily proved the truth of my entirely justified praise. Kids of all ages responded to Zak’s fantastic story-telling, witty wordplay, and catchy tunes with enthusiastic delight, eagerly following his directions, answering his questions, and giggling at his antics.
After Zak’s outstanding show, I chatted with my old friend, who had first visited our community to present Arts In Education performances in the early part of this century, when I served as Darke County Center for the Arts Executive Director. .During the wide-ranging conversation that included discussion of the vast array of services now provided by libraries to meet the multiple needs of patrons, and the fact that Zak’s just-completed program had left his audience not only entertained, but also uplifted and inspired, Zak shared the following story.
Zak told of arriving at an elementary school for a performance several years ago, and before entering the school building, observing a distraught little boy who was refusing to leave what was apparently his grandparents’ vehicle and go into his class. Zak was disturbed by the passionate display of emotion, and vowed to call on the youngster during his show to somehow boost the child’s spirits. He followed through on his vow, and the boy reacted with pleasure and gusto. When the student was rewarded with an autographed copy of Zak’s Grammy-nominated CD When Bullfrogs Croak, he broke into a wide grin and announced, “Life is just great!” Zak still cherishes that moment which occurred over a decade ago, and finds motivation for continuing to pursue his chosen profession by savoring the satisfaction derived from the experience.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when Zak received an email saying in part “I wanted to send you a message explaining my appreciation… . I will never forget the day I saw you and listened to your song. I was so happy and laughed and was amazed about your creativity… I remember I was so excited I said “life is just great!”
The message went on to say that the sender, now age 25, had grown up in an abusive household and had suffered serious losses in his adult life including the death of a son and a devastating automobile accident, but that the gift CD along with Zak’s inscription “Don’t ever forget even in the hard times that life is just great” had provided him with the strength and motivation to persevere in spite of major difficulty and tragedy.
The young man told Zak that “whenever my two beautiful children seem sad, I sing them funny cute songs to make them smile and realize that no matter how hard life gets, life is just great.” The moving missive ended with “Thank you, Mr. Morgan, and God bless you.”
Wow! I need not add anything to this tale of the power of the arts to sustain, to heal, to inspire, except to say that Zak and the now-grown-up little boy will soon be getting together to “grab a bite to eat” and talk about things, perhaps including the fact that the arts can and often does have a positive impact on lives, a message that bears repeating until that universal truth becomes accepted knowledge everywhere
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.