About KIDabra International's Mark and Tami Daniel
Mark and Tami Daniel during the month of August, 2011 were in Pigeon Forge, TN where they directed the 20th Anniversary of the KIDabra Conference for KIDabra International: The Association of KIDshow and Family Performers. (www.kidabra.org) They hosted performers from around the world and from throughout the U.S. for a week of lectures, shows and networking.
On Wednesday evening, August 10th, during the conference, Mark and Tami received The Merlin Award! The Merlin Award is presented to those performers or organizations that have achieved the highest level in their craft, both on the national and international level. The award serves to publicly recognize individuals for what they have done for the magic community. As a recognition award, the Merlin for magic is often compared to the Oscar of the movies, to the Emmy for television, and the Tony for theater. Quite an honor indeed!
Some of the past winners of the Merlin Award include: David Copperfield, Penn & Teller, Criss Angel, Siegfried & Roy, Harry Blackstone and Doug Henning, Brad Ross and Terry Evanswood.
On Wednesday night August the 10th Terry Evanswood of Wonders of Magic at Wonderworks in Pigeon Forge (A Merlin Award recipient himself and close friend of Mark and Tami) took the KIDabra stage and introduced Tony Hassini, the CEO of the International Magicians Society, (IMS is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the Worlds Largest Magic Organization with over 37,000 members.) Tony traveled from New York to Pigeon Forge to present the Award to Mark and Tami.
Quoting Dennis Michael, President of KIDabra Chapter 1 in Atco, NJ: "The members of KIDabra International have been aware for many years of what Mark and Tami have done for family and kid show entertainers. Now it is time for the rest of the world to know what so many of us have experienced. That is, KIDabra International is the best conference in the world for improving the art of entertainment for families and kids all over the world."
Mark's story began many years ago as a young boy who loved magic tricks and discovered a magical place of books at the Davie County Library. Mark really fell in love with reading at the library. Under the guiding hand of then children's librarian Olivia Husk, he would over the years read every book available through North Carolina Libraries on his subject of interest: Magic Tricks.
His performing career started earnestly with a performance at age 11 for the library. Judge Peter Hairston invited him to do a show at Forest Lake Family Campground (now Thousand Trails) for about 300 folks and surprised him with $5.00 afterwards. His parents Bob and Velma Daniel would drive him to shows and his dad would build whatever mysterious prop he needed. Throughout middle and high school he would regularly perform at Forest Lake and Lake Myers Campgrounds. During his sophomore year he won the talent show at Davie High and later presented a major illusion completely surrounded at a home football game.
The call of working with young audiences and inspiring kids to read was in is heart from the beginning. Today he is into a 25+ year career as a Reading Ambassador for schools and libraries throughout the Eastern United States. He has been invited into thousands of schools, hundreds of libraries, performed for millions of children, and twice appeared at the White House for the traditional Easter Egg Roll. Mark's specialty is bringing children's books to life through storytelling, puppetry, magic tricks, and booktalking. It is a unique approach that has won kudos in the educational community for bringing the joy and love of reading to kids and their families. His wife Tami is an integral part of that success as manager taking care of bookings, routing and administrative chores that keep Mark pointed in the right direction.
After high school Mark traveled the country studying performance and noticed that training for entertainers who worked with young audiences was severely lacking at conferences and seminars for performers like him. Twenty-one years ago while chatting with his motivational speaker friend Steve Kissell in Steve's kitchen in Norfolk, VA, he conceived an idea for a conference that would bring together other KIDshow and family performers for several days of lectures, seminars and training. While there were and are many magicians conventions around the world, nothing with this exclusive focus existed.
Steve agreed to help along with his friend, school principal, Lou Page. The 3 along with the assistance of Mark's wife Tami, held their very first conference in Williamsburg, VA in August of 1992 as The International Festival of Children's Magicans. With the best in attendance from throughout their industry. It was a success! Two more years in Williamsburg and Steve and Lou decided to head on to other projects. Mark and Tami became the driving force behind what was becoming a voice and movement in the industry for KIDshow and Family Performers as they took the conference to Myrtle Beach, SC then Orlando, Fl and now to it's present home in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, TN area for the past 13 years.
Along the way there was an important name change from the hard to say and remember IFCM to KIDabra! (A play on the word Abracadabra.) Eight years ago an association grew out of the conference resulting in KIDabra International, The Association of KIDshow and Family Performers. Members are worldwide and at the 20th anniversary of the conference folks traveled from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, Croatia and from all over the US from Hawaii to Maine. KIDabra International is recognized as having a very high level approach to the continuing education and study of performance for kids and their families. Along with the association's magazine The KIDabra Journal with Tami as editor, the association duties and planning the conference coupled with Mark's full time performing, their days are full and rewarding with friends and fans around the world.
Tami is your editor of The KIDabra Journal and maintains the membership records and services, Mark is Chief Bottle Washer for the organization, some call him President:)