Katie Dwyer turns success as nanny into career in kids’ music, plays Firefly Fling July 15

Katie Dwyer turns success as nanny into career in kids’ music, plays Firefly Fling July 15

Participants in this year’s Firefly Fling Festival better be ready to dance.

“We roll our arms. We jump up and down. We spin around. We pretend to be an airplane. We pretend to be a car. We pretend to be a grasshopper jumping up and down,” says Katie Dwyer.

“It’s a great opportunity to come out and actually listen to kids’ music that is rocking and entertaining and fun.”

In addition to music, the July 15 festival at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks includes face painting, henna tattoos, community booths, fire dancers, fairy house building and giant bubbles. Jennifer Brinkley and Jukebox will also perform music, and a laser light show will close down the event.

“I think last year, I want to say there were probably between 1,500 to 2,000 people in the field when I performed. And I had a ton of children that stayed in the front the entire time and danced nonstop the whole show.”

Dwyer’s endless energy comes in handy for her live show as well as her day job as the creator and founder of Katie’s Corner in New York City. Don’t dismiss her as a big city girl though. She was born and raised in Arkadelphia and graduated from Ouachita Baptist University with a degree in mass communications.

While in college, she says that being a “chatty busybody” helped her get a degree while still acting and making music.

“Probably my senior year, I realized that maybe I should have majored in music, but I moved to New York after that because I really wanted to be on Broadway and do the whole New York performance thing.”

For a while, she enjoyed all the opportunities to sing and dance while working as a nanny.

“In New York City, being a nanny can be pretty lucrative, especially if you have a college education. So right out of the gate, I was making a pretty high salary with full benefits and traveling all over the world and to various places in the country,” all while trying to hustle up acting and dancing gigs on the side.

Eventually, she started taking her charges to their auditions, she says, which she had a knack for navigating.

She says the last kid she nannied was Julien Lerner, who stars on “The Wonder Years” and played in “Yes Day.”

“I used to take him to all those auditions and do the grind and read all the scripts. It’s so fun seeing a lot of my kids do stage work now. That also ages me,” she laughs.

Eventually, she channeled her nanny experience and musical talents into another career, creating Katie’s Corner in New York, where still lives and works.

“I always tried to find creative games or play when I was nannying just to get the kids out of a rut of doing the same things,” she says. That’s part of the reason that the kids move so much.” In turn, she says, that brings more kids to her classes, especially after being cooped up in pandemic isolation.

The career also helps her to have a flexible schedule so that she can be an active part of her own daughter’s development.

“I really felt this passion to write music for kids that I thought was checking all of the boxes in terms of their developmental stages, but also was really fun for the parents to listen to as well. And I just became very intent on creating music that kids felt was theirs.”

She’s released two albums of kids’ music — “Let’s Move” and “Music Makes Me Happy.” She’s also earned accolades from the School Library Journal and was a finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and the International Songwriting Competition. While she works on establishing a YouTube channel, she aims to keep kids dancing.

“Kids will always listen to music, don’t get me wrong,” she says, “I really felt that it was important that I wasn’t putting on a show, but rather involving them.”



Firefly Fling

WHEN — 5-10 p.m. July 15

WHERE — Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, 4703 N. Crossover Road in Fayetteville

COST — $14-$24; prices increase on the day of the event

INFO — bgozarks.org

Categories: Family Friendly