Up With People was conceived and launched in 1965 by J. Blanton Belk, musical group The Colwell Brothers, and Herb Allen, as a direct response to the growing anti-establishment
themes and the Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out
type messages directed at youth through popular culture
. A choreographed performance program with soloists
or small groups backed by a large chorus
(up to 150 people) and a collection of songs about how hard work
, clean living
, and faith
had made America
great and were what would be needed to continue making America and the rest of the world great was meant to inspire
and reinforce such goals.
Up! Up! with people!
You meet 'em wherever you go!
Up! Up! with people!
They're the best kind of folks we know.
If more people were for people,
All people ev'rywhere,
There'd be a lot less people to worry about,
And a lot more people who care!
The program toured the US and grew until it was incorporated as a non-profit
organization in 1968. By this time Up With People had developed into a leadership training
program (for the chorus members and others). Trainees would pay to be part of the program, and their training would in large part consist of handling logistics
of the traveling show, including finding host families to provide free lodging for the troupe and doing community service
. The program was well organized and met with enough success that at one point it was taking $30 million per year, with five complete touring groups. Over 20,000 students from 79 countries have participated in performances in 38 countries around the world.
Up With People provided half-time
entertainment at the 1976 Super Bowl
with a Bicentennial
themed extravaganza, and also performed at the Munich Olympics
and other sites of unrest
. Such a wholesome
, squeaky clean
program was of course ripe for parody
, and there was a particularly well done take on The Simpsons
called "Hooray For Everything!".
Financial problems within the organization led to Up With People's being in debt to the tune of 3.2 million dollars in 2000, and the program was shut down. In 2004 the organization was relaunched as the WorldSmart Leadership Program, a four-month program emphasizing a curriculum of leadership training, internship experience, community impact, and multicultural immersion. Academic credit
through the University of Colorado
Department of Communications (15 semester hours) can be earned after completing the program. There is still a musical performance element, in the "Community Celebration" that culminates each week's visit to a particular area, but it is no longer as prominent a part of the program.
The Album Notes on the LP, ca. 1966 Front:
Pace Magazine presents...
Up With People!
The sing-out musical. From the Schick television color spectacular.
There is a large photo (in living color
) of the Colwell Brothers
, a trio
of crew-cut coiffed
-clad caucasian crooners in front of a few ranks of earnest
looking young people in sport coats and demure
closed-collared dresses belting out backing vocals and thrusting their paired fists forward emphatically. There are even a couple of Negroes
in the 25 or so singers pictured.
Down the right side of the main photo are three black and white photos of major endorsers
of this production, with quotations:
Back: Main Text -
- John Wayne - "This is an album you'll love from start to finish. There's a power in it which makes you want to get out and start doing something for your country."
- Pat Boone - "These are songs you'll never forget. I'm proud to have performed with young Americans who simply won't stand still until they build a new tomorrow for the world. And what talent!"
- Walt Disney - "The happiest most hard-hitting way of saying what America's all about that I have ever seen or heard."
The big sound meets the big idea!
The big sound is the thunder of a generation on the move, the generation of the mid-1960's reaching farther into space, deeper below the sea, further into science and technology than any generation before. Highlights of text below B/W photos of featured groups and singers:
The big idea is the idea that built America - hard work, faith and sacrifice - the idea of modernizing man's character, motives and aims to keep pace with the rocket-age race to the planets and the stars.
From all over the country they came - some of the most exciting and talented young voices of America - to the Moral Re-Armament Demonstration for Modernizing America, at Mackinac Island, Michigan.
Fifteen thousand miles they have traveled, from the New York World's Fair to Washington D.C., from the Hollywood Bowl to Japan and Korea, from cheering crowds in riot-torn Watts on through the West, meeting half-hour ten-encore standing ovations in the Air Force Academy and other universities, singing before crowds of up to 15,000.
Everywhere they are detonating the myth of a soft, self-indulgent and arrogant America, demonstrating an American enthusiastic in his sacrifice and sweat to help create a better world, ready at the drop of a hat, night and day, to stand up for what they believe in and to...
Below the text about the featured singers are two more sections:
- The Colwell Brothers - Credited as the creators of "Up With People", singer-songwriter "Real-life brothers" Ralph, Paul and Steve had performed worldwide for nine years before returning to America and launching UWP, Joined by drummer Bob Quesnel (who drummed continuously for 100 hours 23 minutes in 1964 to set a new world record). The Colwells say they "are not interested in orchestrating the moans and groans of a sick society, but in sparking enthusiasm for something new. We want to get millions moving to build a world that works."
- The Green Glenn Singers - Gleen Close (aka Glenn Close), Jennie Dorn, Vee Entwistle and Kathe Green. Specialists in singing Korean and Japanese folk-songs, "electrifying audiences in Asia", they bring a folk-style all their own.
- Linda Blackmore - Soloist, "The Ballad of Joan of Arc". "Our country needs a million Joans who are willing to fight God's battles."
- Charles Woodard - Soloist, "Which Way America?". 19 year-old senior at Florida A & M University "with many lucrative offers coming his way."
Side One (18:46)
- A box stating that "The Spirit of the Green" was written in honor of Patrick J. Frawley Jr., Up With People key sponsor and president of Schick Safety Razor Company.
- An offer for a booklet - "How to Create Your Own Sing-Out" featuring photos, words and music, and complete instructions for putting on your own Up With People show.
Available from Pace Publications, Los Angeles, CA.
$1.50 · 10 for $12.50 · 100 for $100
Side Two (20:20)
- Don't Stand Still / Showboat-Go Boat
- Design For Dedication
- Run and Catch the Wind
- The Ride of Paul Revere
- You Can't Live Crooked and Think Straight
- Up With People
All Original music copyright © 1965 by Moral Re-Armament, Inc.
- A New Tomorrow
- The Ballad of Joan of Arc
- The Spirit of the Green
- Don't Stand Still
- What Color is God's Skin?
- The Happy Song
- Freedom Isn't Free
- Which Way America?
The Ride of Paul Revere
is a rousing and dramatic recounting of the patriot's midnight journey, drawing parallels to the present cultural perils:
They saw two lanterns in the North Church tower. (Ride! Ride!)
They knew this was to be the fateful hour. (Ride! Ride!)
For a man to ride and to alarm
Ev'ry village and ev'ry farm
To awaken them and call to arm,
It was the ride of Paul Revere!
I wonder if, two hundred years ahead, (Ride! Ride!)
If they will ride, or if they'll stay in bed, (Ride! Ride!)
When faith and freedom within them die,
And when they hear that midnight cry
And the hoof-beats cross the moonlit sky,
Will they ride with Paul Revere?
The Ballad of Joan of Arc
is another compelling piece, starting out quite pastoral
and turning quite martial
, emphasizing the strength needed to answer the call to action
, even if it means doing so alone.
"Open up the door and let me inside,
I've come to see the king," the young girl cried.
"What does a country girl want with the king?
You've never learned to read or write,
You've never owned a thing!"
"I've come to ask for horses, for a sword and for men
Who will ride with me to free this land again.
Ride with me to free this land again."
Joan rides the high road,
Fear is in the rain,
Voices crying, "Madness, a tomorrow of pain."
Strong men are hesitant, the king was afraid
But every heart was strengthened by the voice of the Maid.
When you walk alone in the fields of the summer,
Where the green earth is whispering a song,
Will you ride the high road leading afar
And ride out to answer ev'ry wrong?
Joan's probable schizophrenia
is alluded to directly, but of course the positive outcome is the message here. (An interesting contrast to this angle on the Maid of Orleans
is the later Joan of Arc
by Leonard Cohen
and Jennifer Warnes
What Color is God's Skin? addressed the troublesome racial
tensions that were peaking in the 1960s with a child's simple question to his parent at bedtime.
What color is God's skin?
What color is God's skin?
I said "It's black, brown, it's yellow, it is red, it is white,
Ev'ry man's the same in the good Lord's sight."
The child asks why the different races fight, and both the cynical
and the hopeful
can find deep meaning in the response:
Son, that's part of our sufferin' past
But the whole human family is learnin' at last...
Which Way America? , the album's and the show's closing number, sums up the overall message quite well, with a baritone
soldier in the spotlight, on bended knee
Which way America?
Which way America?
Which way America?
Which way to go?
This is my country and I want to know
Which way America is going to go.
There is many a storm before us,
Many a choice to make,
I'm gonna ask the Lord above
To show me the road to take.
Up With People album, Pace #1101
Song lyrics are excerpts.