Biography

“Randy Kaplan is one of those happy-they-exist people you cant quite tell is playing kids’ music. And yet he is” (New York magazine). His blend of American Roots Music and Comedic Storytelling has inspired the likes of NPR, The Nashville Blues Society, and People magazine to name Randy one of the nation’s top family entertainers. As indebted to The Marx Brothers and Steve Martin as he is to Robert Johnson and Woody Guthrie, he is “offbeat, smart and funny, funny, funny!” (Mindy Thomas, SiriusXM Radio's Kids Place Live Music Director).

In his songs for children and their families, Randy Kaplan blends American Roots, Country Blues, and Comedic Storytelling. He fingerpicks his way through unpredictable, live shows, which in addition to his original compositions include Broadway numbers, Delta Blues songs, Ragtime tunes, and even his grandfather's songs from the 1920s. “He doesn’t dumb it down for the kids....He just expects them to come along for the ride. And they do” (Time Out New York Kids).

Randy has released 6 Family CDs (one of whose title song was later released as a picture book) independently and with Universal Music and MyKaZoo Music. His work has been awarded top honors from NAPPA (National Parenting Publication Awards), been voted a Top Five CD in the Nickelodeon Parents' Picks Awards, been featured prominently in children's magazines and on family websites, and has appeared on the Top Ten lists of NPR, People magazine, Time Out New York Kids, Fids & Kamily, Zooglobble, OWTK, Family Man Online (where it was also awarded the #1 spot), and many others. His recordings have appeared on compilations such as Putumayo's American Playground and Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti. Randy's song "No Nothing" was nominated for Best Children's Song of the Year by Just Plain Folks and his "The Ladybug Without Spots" was the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) Song of the Month in May 2013.

Trippin’ Round the Mitten, released in 2017, is Randy's 6th full-length not-JUST-for-kids CD. It includes the single “On the Phone on the Toilet,” released as an advance single in 2016. The song was a smash hit on SiriusXM Kids Place Live, rising to #2 on the 13Under13 charts and remaining there for 11 weeks. With Trippin’ Round the Mitten, Randy adds Hip-hop, Pop, Doo-Wop, and Punk to his list of styles (having already put his love of Tin Pan Alley, Folk, Rock, Blues, Ragtime, Bluegrass, and Broadway music on display many times before). Randy moved to the suburbs of Detroit in 2015 and has already toured or “tripped” around the state of Michigan (which is shaped like a mitten) many times. Produced, recorded, mixed, and mastered at 9th Ward Pickin Parlor in Lawrence, Kansas by Mike West of Truckstop Honeymoon, Trippin’Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, starring Marilyn Monroe). Randy and Julie’s 5-year-old son, Ryland, also joins in with background vocals on “Beach Song,” a number of interjections, and lead vocals on “Mommy Love Song” (a psychedelic ditty he wrote all by himself). Randy also covers songs by his pals Dan Bern and Mike West and changes Eleni Mandell’s Honky Tonk number “Tell Me Twice,” a song about unrequited love, to the record’s eponymous track, a song about going on a one-week tour of Michigan and missing his wife and son while he’s away. Trippin’ Round the Mitten contains the skits, dialogues, boundary-pushing original numbers (some written with his wife, Julie May) that Randy’s fans (FORKs) have come to expect of him, including “Honk Honk” (a rap about the many facets of a nose, especially a nose that cannot be squeezed due to a recent ‘procedure’), “Supernude” (about Randy’s son’s scandalizing superhero alter-ego), “Cat & Mice” (whose narrator—not Randy, of course—acts more like a brother than a father to his son, much to the consternation of his wife), and “Every Second Counts” (a musical rendition of a typically chaotic morning at the quadruple-cuckoo Kaplan household).

Randy studied philosophy, writing, and literature at The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor as well as at UCLA. He then trained in acting, improvisation, and writing and has credits in prominent theater productions such as Spring Awakening and The Fresca Wars and on TV shows such as Growing Pains, Beauty and the Beast, Ferris Bueller,and A Different World. Randy has toured throughout the U.S., released a baker's dozen CDs (including 8 not-REALLY-for-kids ones!), had his poetry published by periodicals and journals such as Ugly Duckling Presse (6x6 magazine) and The Missing Slate, received several ASCAP awards, and written and starred in a musical that was workshopped in Colorado and later presented in full at the Boulder International Fringe Festival.

Randy started writing songs for kids and their families when he worked at the preschool Beansprouts in Park Slope, Brooklyn. After his first family CD, Five Cent Piece, was released, Parenting magazine called Randy “one of the most exciting newcomers to kids’ music since Dan Zanes." His hometown zine, The Brooklyn Paper, called him "a national treasure who brings a sly wink to the art of kid's music." Randy began performing professionally in Los Angeles in 1987 when he moved there to pursue an acting career; he took up folk music on the side. He proceeded to record and perform solo and with his band all over the country. He has lived in New York, California, Kansas, and—as of June, 2015—Michigan. Randy never imagined that so many of his groupies would be under the age of nine!

 
   
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