PARRISH, Fla. — A local duo is using their skills from making music with big stars like Grammy award winner Mary J. Blige to create content to get kids inspired.
Allen "Sparky" Starks and Gina Barker met while on tour with Blige. Between the two of them, they have quite a history with musical artists and entertainment.
"I started with Stevie Wonder in 1980. Been in the music as a production person, engineer, studio person, musician," Starks said.
As for Barker, she was a dancer with Disney on Ice and has worked on popular kids' television shows.
"I was with the Wiggles, Bob the Builder, Barney, Pokeman," Barker said.
Their experiences have taken them down a different path these days.
The music hasn't left their blood, it just has a different beat now — to the tune of a YouTube channel, Planet Peek-A-Boo.
The educational videos for kids are the brainchild of Barker. In her free time in between shoots for kids shows she would draw the characters, not knowing where it would lead her later in life.
"They were always like what is this that you're always drawing. So, I said those are peek-a-boo people. They said well what is it. I said I don't really know," Barker said.
Barker's colorful and bubbly characters shined bright in the darkness of the pandemic. It was a worldwide shutdown that brought the main character, Lillaquin, and her friends from paper to the screens of thousands of kids.
"Honestly, when COVID hit and we got locked down that's when we really started to like pay attention to the YouTube channel and get the videos out there and put a little show out there," Barker said. "It was just for kids because they were locked down too and parents were saying do you have anything and so we said okay let's make something."
That something turned into thousands of views on YouTube and while it may be entertainment for the kids, it's proving to bring out the kid at heart.
"We have got songs about how I love my selfie. So, it's all about a self-esteem building at an early age," Sparky said.
"Positive words have a big effect on people so if we can affect little ones and all of the people who support them I feel like we have done our job," Barker said.
The team recently filmed a music video at the St. Petersburg pier for their pilot music video. For more information about Planet Peek-A-Boo visit their website.