For those having trouble sleeping. Actually, I’m often asked how I got involved with VeggieTales. Here goes…
The Early Years
I grew up in a musical family.
- Mom — choir director, piano and voice teacher.
- Dad — cello player (during the occupation of Japan after WWII he played in a USO orchestra made up of American servicemen and Japanese civilians!) and singer — I learned to sing bass sitting next to him in choir. Great spiritual influences — thanks Mom and Dad!
- Two older brothers who play flute and trumpet.
Junior High, Cullman, Alabama
- Kurt forms his first musical group with friends Jon and Phil, making a trio on trumpet, trombone, and saxophone. Band name? DEATHSTAR. (see kids, Star Wars was popular even back then…)
- Begins studying his mom’s college theory books.
High School, Cullman, Alabama
- DEATHSTAR has disbanded, but buddies add tuba and another trumpet to form Jazz Bros., a Dixieland/pep combo of sorts, writing own arrangements for school basketball games and various events.
- Borrows friends monophonic synthesizers and reel-to-reel tape recorders to create his first multi-track recordings.
- Directs High School German band, complete with fake Lederhosen, playing for local and college Octoberfests and parties.
- Honor groups: All-State Honors Band, All-State Honors Choir, Solo-and-Ensemble, Instruments include trumpet, bass trumpet, euphonium, French horn, and tuba … wanna see my medals?
- Graduates as Class Musician and Salutatorian. (not much social life yet …)
College — University of Montevallo, Alabama
- Composer for annual College Night theatrical production, one of the oldest homecoming traditions in the nation.
- Studies in electronic music lab on Moog modular synthesizer.
Luther College, Decorah, Iowa
- BA degree in music education, emphasis in trumpet and voice, graduated with highest honors.
- Regularly arranges for college brass ensembles.
- Studies electronic music on a Fairlight Series III system.
- President of Nordic Choir, one of the nation’s premier college choirs, under director Weston Noble, while simultaneously playing trumpet and euphonium in Luther’s top concert band.
- Spends year touring on road with American Entertainment Productions, playing brass, keyboards, singing, and running sound. Performs for conventions, fairs, and school assemblies in 30 states. Occasionally forced to wear white pants and silver-sequined vest. Despite this, social life improves.
- Spends summer performing at Valleyfair Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 500 shows, singing a Manhattan Transfer medley and playing trumpet … outdoors … this time in a Jetson’s sort of get-up … beats concessions.
General music teacher, Freeport, Bahamas
- Takes 3 choirs to island-wide music festival- all place first in their divisions, ahead of several schools with veteran music teachers. Still feeling pretty good about that!
- Trades in questionable costumes for swimsuit, promptly goes snorkeling and diving every weekend.
Band and jazz band director, 2 years, Walther Lutheran School System, Chicago area.
- Successfully leads 5 Junior High band programs and lessons a week, in addition to High School jazz band and Junior High mass band.
- Meets cute girl named Judy, turns into wife a year later. Turns him into a dad the year after that-Gretchen is first, followed by Clayton and Wesley a few years later. Greatest kids ever!
- Starts working part-time at a cool church in Chicago.
Director of Church Music, Park Community Church, Lincoln Park, Illinois, 8 years.
- Park tests the waters as a progressive, contemporary church in the heart of Chicago.
- Kurt is busy leading bands, arranging, writing, sequencing, performing, and directing choirs.
- One of my top vocalists is Lisa Vischer — her voice becomes squeakier years later as she takes on the roll of VeggieTales’ Junior Asparagus.
- Members of the church, Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki, invite him to become involved in a new, questionable venture — limb-less talking vegetables telling Bible stories.
Director of Music, Big Idea, Inc., 21 years. Started in Chicago, relocated to Nashville, continues to work freelance.
- The days of directing a German band in high school pay off, as first song to produce is the theme song, a bona-fide polka with Kurt playing Larry’s tuba. Still a highlight …
- Gets involved with the music from the ground floor, becoming the all-around Swiss-Army-knife-kind-of music guy for the company. This includes song composition and co-writing, scoring, performance, recording, and production on the bulk of Big Idea’s products.
- VeggieTales begins as the first computer-animated series for video ever produced, and goes on to sell over 75 million videos and DVDs, and CDs.
- Proceed to write scores for over 50 videos, from one-man creations in studio to full orchestras and choirs — 55-member Seattle Symphony, 80-member City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, and 85-voice Norsemen men’s choir.
Score Composer, CBN “Superbook” series, 5 years
- Creating all score in his home studio, combining programming and live instruments
- Writing for 13 episodes a season, currently completing their 3rd season
- 3D computer animation retelling all the great stories of the Bible, already translated into 19 languages and broadcast worldwide via the CBN network.