Home » » Interview With Frank McGee, Author of "A Song for the World"

Interview With Frank McGee, Author of "A Song for the World"

Frank McGee has congenital a acclaimed career as a biographer and announcer over bisected a century. In the agitated 1960s he covered belief as far afield as Brazil, Indonesia, and Viet Nam. As managing editor of "Pace" magazine, a abreast of "Life, Look, and Holiday," he formed with anticipation leaders from about the world.

During the 1970s, McGee launched and edited "New Worlds," the signature annual of California's Orange Coast. The University of California at Irvine broke him to abode the coffee table book commemorating the school's aboriginal twenty-five years. In the '80s and '90s, he authored and edited books on a array of capacity that were appear in a dozen languages. Today, he lives with his wife in Tucson, Arizona.

Tyler: Thank you, Frank, for abutting me. You're actuality today to acquaint us about your new book "A Song for the World" which tells the adventure of how the Colwell Brothers and Herb Allen acclimated music to accompany accord and abode to the world, decidedly through the group, Up with People. To begin, will you acquaint our readers a little bit about how it began?

Frank: Glad to, Tyler. Up with Humans started in a way that afraid anybody at the time. It was built-in during the 1960s to accord a articulation to adolescence acquisitive to accept a say in architecture the future. There's a affiliate in the book about that. The Up with Humans appearance was launched in antecedent in 1965 at a appointment for adolescent administration on an island in the Abundant Lakes. It acquired that summer in performances from a alarm touring bounded harbors, and aural weeks, literally, it was in apogee about the world. No one accepted that to happen, atomic of all the Colwell Brothers and Herb Allen, who initially just basic to accommodate a belvedere for the celebrity and adroitness of the adolescent humans accessory the conference. You ability say that Up with Humans was built-in through a affection for change.

Domestic and all-around audiences came to apperceive the Colwells and Allen in the afterward decades through Up with People's four Super Bowl Halftime Shows. Multiple casts had toured on every abstemious and above the U.S. and Canada. In America's Bicentennial Year, 1976, they played in 771 U.S. cities to reside audiences accretion 3.9 million. That year they actually invented the avant-garde Super Bowl halftime architecture if the NFL arrive them to perform. The aboriginal affiliate of "A Song for the World" opens with that event. I accept to say (speaking abundantly as the author!) that it's a appealing affecting story. In 1980 I had the advantage of getting a acreage columnist during their achievement at Super Bowl XIV in the Rose Bowl.

Tyler: Frank, I accept you accept been accompany with the Colwells and Allen for fifty years. Would you acquaint us a little bit about that accord and how it developed?

Frank: That's bisected a century, Tyler! I aboriginal met them in their teens. I hadn't avant-garde abundant above that myself. Allen was accustomed as a agreeable ability from his youth, a adolescent prodigy. In his hometown of Seattle he was acclaimed as a astrologer on the xylophone. He accomplished beneath the best classical piano advisers in the Northwest and was enrolled to access the Oberlin Academy of Music, but his affection in his adolescence was his ball band, Herbie Allen and His Orchestra. Herb was a inferior in top academy if we met. I was again alive with Moral Re-Armament (MRA), an all-embracing advance accumulation focused on developing answerable leaders above a ample spectrum of society. Herb instantly responded to the objective. Added and added I've appear to apprehend the implications of the abode of adolescent artists like Herb and the Colwells to appoint in a purpose that gave appliance and acceptation to their talents.

The Colwell Brothers were already country music stars if our paths above in Southern California. They were admirers on NBC's Tex Williams television show, broadcasting account from Orange County's Knott's Berry Farm, which was America's aboriginal affair esplanade (Disneyland opened afterwards just up the road). The Brothers, age-old 19, 17, and 15, were the youngest accumulation beneath arrangement with a above label, Columbia Records.

I was in the casting of a Western agreeable appearance then, and anyone got them tickets for the Hollywood premiere. Ironically, the appearance was about brothers who were altercation over baptize rights. "A Song for the World" tells the appealing amazing adventure of what happened during the next few months; I say amazing because in little added than a year they were giving their aboriginal achievement in a accent added than their own. It was in Switzerland, if they sang in French for Robert Schumann, the above adopted abbot of France and a architect of the European Union. During the next decades they would abode and sing in 37 languages and dialects, with advice from the locals, of course. They all allege Italian. Herb Allen, who formed for years in Italy, speaks it like a native. There's an adventure in the book about Allen award a apparatus gun beneath his bed if he was blockage with the ancestors of Bruno, a adolescent antipathetic he had appear to know: "What's annoying you?' Bruno asked Herb if he "happened" to acknowledgment his discovery. "We all accept apparatus accoutrements here. There's one in every accommodation in the block."

Tyler: Frank, why did you adjudge to abode "A Song for the World?"

Frank: I don't ambition to complete aberrant about this, but I anticipate autograph the book was absitively for me. In the bounce of 2003 I was in a acquisition of continued time assembly who met from time to time to renew friendships and allocution about what was accident in our worlds. A acquittal advocate from Oakland said that adolescent humans in her city-limits were getting confronted with doubtful situations every day, and badly bare hope. "There should to be a book about the Colwells and Herb," she declared.

I'm not badinage if I say the anticipation hit me with an about electric blow that I was meant to abode it. My wife, Helen, who has been my accomplice in artistic ventures for bisected a century, acquainted the aforementioned impulse. And so did my acquaintance John Ruffin, who was abstinent our altercation that day. John's company, Abounding Anchorage Publishing, would eventually aftermath the book, with startup banking abutment from added than a hundred humans from above the apple who believed this adventure had to be told.

Tyler: That's a admirable story, Frank. Obviously, musicians accept the ability to be a big access on adolescent people, both absolute and negative. Do you anticipate Up With Humans is able to ability adolescent humans today and what is their bulletin to youth?

Frank: At the end of Up with Humans shows, there are consistently adolescent humans in the admirers who administer to biking with the cast. Sometimes they're too adolescent to qualify, sometimes too old, but the aspect that alcove humans most, I think, is a purpose that's important. Of advance the appearance abandoned is a big attraction, but in the ambience of "Bringing the Apple Together," it seems to action an acknowledgment to that all-over question, "What can one getting do?"

Tyler: I accept these artists catholic a abundant accord and witnessed history in the authoritative in several countries. Would you accord us an archetype of one of the a lot of absorbing contest they witnessed or alternate in?

Frank: How about two? Seriously, there are abounding arresting occasions declared in the book, for instance, getting the aboriginal all-embracing agreeable performers in China afterwards the annihilation of the abominable "Gang of Four;" or demography the aboriginal appearance to Russia afterwards the Cold War, even afore the Berlin Wall came down. But actuality are two:

In 1957, Japanese Prime Abbot Nobusuke Kishi was about to commence on a arduous bout of Southeast Asia in which he would apologize to Pacific nations for atrocities Japan had committed during Apple War II. The Colwells and those they formed with, some of whom were parliamentarians, had been dialoguing with Kishi for months, and at his official abode on the night of the departure, they were arrive to present the absolute forward off affairs for the prime minister, his chiffonier ministers, and top government officials. Their accompany batten and the Colwells sang, with appropriate songs accounting in Japanese for the occasion. The endure complete Kishi heard that black as he larboard for the airport was the music of three adolescent Americans, in western costume, singing to him in his own language.

Two years afterwards the Colwell Brothers were in the Congo, today alleged Zaire, breadth they sang at the official anniversary contest if the country acquired its independence. The Congo is the admeasurement of Western Europe! During an acute and agitated year they remained alive in the country, active through rebellion, revolution, and a re-invasion by troops of the Congo's above Belgian occupiers, and again U.N. intervention. President Lumumba was assassinated during that year. With an all-embracing aggregation the Colwells visited every arena in the country, affair with affiliated chiefs in the villages, singing to crowds in stadiums, to Congolese aggressive and peacekeeping U.N. armament in amphitheater concerts, and assuming for civic leaders from all parties in the country's basic of Leopoldville. In the backing division they above bloated rivers with their van perched aloft ferries congenital of planks laid over dugout canoes attached ancillary to side. The afternoon the army bedeviled ascendancy of the country in a coup, the Congo was absolutely afterwards buzz or telegraph advice with the alfresco world. An hour afterwards midnight that night the brothers led journalists to a limited apple they had visited months beforehand on the Congo River, breadth the reporters could appoint villagers and noiselessly blooper out into the accepted in dugout canoes to get the account out to the world. During that year, with their all-embracing teammates, the Colwells fabricated added than 400 broadcasts on Radio Congo, the country's sole agency of communication, programs the abetting abbey of Leopoldville alleged "a articulation of acumen to the nation."

Tyler: Wow, that is determination. What do you anticipate absolutely motivates the Colwells and Herb Allen to yield these kinds of risks?

Frank: That's harder to answer, for me at least, afterwards appearing to adduce from a columnist release. I've apparent the grit, sweat, and cede involved. They could accept angry abroad a thousand times from the aisle they'd chosen. But they believed something abiding could be achieved, and that they were meant to accord their time and talents to it. I don't anticipate they had the aboriginal abstraction if they set out on this adventure breadth it would yield them, or ask of them.

Tyler: Frank, if added groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were authoritative huge hits and apparently bags of money in the 1960s and beyond, why did Up with Humans focus instead on touring the apple and visiting countries in crisis?

Frank: I anticipate that boils down to "reason for being." I've little agnosticism that the 20,000 adolescent humans who've taken allotment in Up with Humans during its aboriginal forty years would acknowledge bags of money! And I apperceive Herb and the Brothers wouldn't object!

But to get the acknowledgment to your catechism you accept to attending at the choices they fabricated added than a dozen years afore Up with Humans was even a beam in anyone's eye. Attending at the aback awning of the book, which has some paragraphs beneath the heading, "The Ability of Music." There's a band there that says, "They actually absolved abroad from their childhoods, comfort, careers, and admired ones, putting aggregate on the band for something they believed. They believed they could change the world."

Tyler: Why do you anticipate "Up with People" has been so successful?

Frank: Even added than the ball of the Up with Humans show, I anticipate it strikes a ambit in the alertness of people. We all ambition to apperceive there is achievement for the future. We'd all like to participate somehow in creating it. To see adolescent humans dedicating themselves to that purpose is both a claiming and an inspiration. The appearance itself is absolutely a appearance window. What is central the abundance is the encouragement, the affable persuasion, and possibly even a little affront to get complex in the activity of your community, to advance with others who plan to accomplish a difference.

Tyler: For readers alien with the group, what are some of the songs they ability recognize?

Frank: Humans may apperceive "Where the Anchorage Appear Together," by Paul Colwell. It's a agitating and affective carol about who we are:

None of us is built-in the same,

We don't apperceive why

It's the way we came,

Every affection beats a little differently,

Each body is chargeless to acquisition its way,

Like a river that apprehension it way to the sea.

There are abounding anchorage to go,

And they go by abounding names,

They don't all go the aforementioned way,

But they get there all the same.

And I accept a feelin'

That we'll accommodated some day

Where the anchorage appear together

Up the way.

If you lived in the Congo, you'd absolutely be accustomed with the Colwell Brothers' "Vive le Congo," which became something like a additional civic canticle and was played on Radio Congo for years.

And of course, "Up with People" is a song accepted about the world. CDs of the Words and Music of Paul Colwell will anon be accessible at http://www.asongfortheworld.com.

Tyler: Would you acquaint us a little bit about the song-writing aspect of the group? Who writes the music and who writes the lyrics? Breadth do they get their ideas, and how does it all appear calm so the music can be performed?

Frank: Paul Colwell, as I mentioned, wrote abounding of the songs performed in aboriginal shows. He generally had collaborators, frequently Herb Allen, who was listed as coauthor. There's a affiliate in the book titled, "Birth of a Phenomenon," about the songwriters, arrangers, and producers from several countries who accept formed with Up with Humans either continued appellation or on specific events.

Several Up with Humans albums accept been produced in Britain, with top technicians and arrangers brought calm by David Mackay, a continued time collaborator. Mackay has an absorbing accumulating of gold and platinum albums to his credit, including assembly of the New Seekers' all-embracing hit, "I'd Like to Teach the Apple to Sing." One biographer Mackay brought in was John Parr, co-writer of "St. Elmo's Fire, and aswell David Mallory, one of France's a lot of acknowledged pop/rock songwriters who created a lot of of the hits of megastar Johnny Hallyday, sometimes alleged the French Elvis Presley.

Tyler: You mentioned the Colwells accept accounting abounding songs in altered languages and dialects? How do they go about accouterment this affectionate of all-embracing aftertaste to their music?

Frank: If they've accounting songs in added languages it's about consistently been with humans from the area. There are a amount of belief in the book about this. For instance, already they were traveling with Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, to the south of India to accompany in the acreage ameliorate efforts of Vinoba Bhave, Gandhi's adherent and the man admired as his airy successor. At a alternation base in Bombay they chanced to accommodated a agent acquaintance of Rajmohan who helped them abode a song in Marathi, the mother argot of Maharashtra accompaniment breadth they were branch the next day. Afterwards a arenaceous 12-hour alley cruise in 117-degree calefaction in a 20-year old seven-passenger Plymouth they had baffled the song. Arriving to accommodated Vinoba Bhave, they hauled Ralph's acoustic bass and their added instruments out of the old car, and performed in the Marathi accent for the saint and bags of his followers. Vinoba Bhave acclimated the words of their song as the affair of his abode to the crowd.

Tyler: Musically, what do you feel makes "Up With People" angle out from added groups?

Frank: I anticipate it's been the agreeable of the songs, additional their intent. They allocution of demography down walls of misunderstanding, of excelling, of affective against new frontiers. The songs are fatigued from life. One, "The Endure Embrace," was aggressive by a PBS appropriate about a arch that spanned the no man's acreage amid war zones in Kosovo, and a Christian boy and Moslem babe who had collapsed in love, and died from battery on the arch aggravating to cantankerous it together. Abounding songs accept been accounting for appropriate occasions, for appropriate people. A absorption by Captain Eugene Cernan, the endure man to airing on the moon, that he had looked aback at the apple and apparent "a apple afterwards borders," aggressive the abstracted lyrics of "MoonRider." Paul Colwell and Herb Allen's "Song for China" opened hearts and doors in China if an Up with Humans casting went there in 1978 afore adept relations were accustomed amid China and the U.S.

Tyler: Frank, what do you feel is Herb Allen and the Colwell Brothers' greatest contribution?

Frank: May I acknowledgment that in two parts? The aboriginal would be a claimed response. These four accept accomplished the lives of many. They are fun to be with, never yield themselves too seriously, and never, never get agitated abroad with the PR about them. They're quick to avert acclaim and accord it to others, and I accept never heard them affirmation to accept acquired absolute things to appear because of their work. Of advance I apperceive otherwise, but they would hit the "delete" button on any "spin" I ability accept approved to blooper into the book. Okay, now to allotment two:

To me their greatest addition would be the affirmation of the ability of music to accomplish change. They about wrote and performed not just any music, but music that affected lives, was fatigued from what was important to people, and from what they saw about them. They never set out to acquaint others what they should anticipate or do. On the contrary, they went everywhere to listen, to learn, and to understand. As a result, doors and hearts seemed to accessible to them everywhere. You ability say that Up with Humans is their legacy. I anticipate to them it is abundant added than a appearance or organization; it is affidavit to adolescent and old of what the abundant English drillmaster Edward Thring declared 150 years ago, that music "sooner or afterwards is the abundant apple bond."

Tyler: Thank you, Frank, for abutting me today. Afore we go, would you acquaint our readers your website breadth they can buy a archetype of the book and aswell what added affectionate of advice they ability acquisition there about "A Song for the World?"

Frank: Go to http://www.asongfortheworld.com. You can adjustment the book there, apprehend reviews, apprentice which cities are appointed to be visited for concerts and book signings, and see abounding of the photos from the book. Thanks actual abundant for accepting me today, Tyler.

Tyler: Thank you, Frank. I ambition you lots of luck with "A Song for the World" and I achievement it introduces the Colwells and Allen to a accomplished new bearing of fans.

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