by Gwenn McGill, D79, USA UWPIAA Reunions Chair
As the newly-appointed Reunions Chair, I was given the task of making a recommendation for the site where the 2016 & 2017 UWPIAA reunions would take place.
As many of you know, we have been fortunate to call Tucson, AZ home for our reunions since 2004. In many ways, Tucson has been the ideal location due to the historical ties to Up With People and the University of Arizona, as well as the significant amount of host family and alumni support that we receive before, during and after the reunion. In addition, Tucson also happens to be one of the few places where we are able to find a large block of available, affordable rooms in the July/August timeframe. (It also helps that the hotels are absolutely beautiful with staff members who are familiar with our organization and are eager to please.)
With all of that being said, we still felt it was important to explore potential opportunities outside of Tucson for the 2016 & 2017 reunions in case there was something more suitable for our needs.Read More
As an adjective, “gala” means festive. As a noun, it means special occasion, a celebration. As it applies to Up with People’s 50th Anniversary event in Denver on April 25, 2015, it means all of the above!
This year’s event will be bigger, brighter, and grander than ever before. Presented by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in association with Elite Brands, the gala will be held at a new and spectacular location, the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver. The new venue allows us to increase the size of the silent auction area, the number of guests in the ballroom, and provide better viewing for all attendees.Read More
by Linda Erley, E78, USA
All of us have sung “Up with People” so many times in so many ways, but how about singing it with the original songwriters almost as if you and 300 of your closest friends were in your own living room? This is what the crowd at a very special sold-out performance in Broomfield, Colorado had the good fortune to do in January, when the Colwell Brothers and Herb Allen presented an unforgettable two-hour show, raising an estimated $10,000 for scholarships for future Up with People participants.
Here’s a brief history. Last summer, a group of alumni calling themselves Cast 5280 in a nod to Denver, CO’s altitude pooled resources to win this very special auction item at the alumni reunion. The Colwell brothers and Herb Allen initially agreed to donate their time and talent to perform in someone’s home, but when they realized the potential, they decided to take it a giant step further. A venue was found, the word was spread, tickets were sold and alumni came from as far as Germany, Arkansas, California, and Illinois to be a part of this incredible evening! A big thank you goes out to Cast 5280 for their time and generosity. Without you, this event could not have taken place.
The Colorado Rocky Mountain alumni gave a warm welcome to Steve, Paul, Ralph, Ted, Herb, and Ralph’s wife, Debbie. Alumni pulled together to make the show and logistics happen. That old UWP PR team training kicked in as we organized housing, meals, performance needs and, of course, parties. (Ok, maybe we didn’t plan quite as many parties while we were on the road!). It was truly a collaborative effort and a big thank you goes out to all alumni involved!
On performance night, the opening act featured UWP second-generation alumni Breton Shepherd (son of Rajean and Stu), Matthew Erley (son of Linda and Bruce) and Brodie Kinder (son of Sammie and Jeff). The trio performed a tribute song they had written to honor the legacy that the Colwell brothers and Herb created. A brief video montage created by Breton Shepherd followed the song, offering a look back on the lives of the Colwells and Herb spanning from the days before Mackinac Island to the present day.
The video ended with the words, “Their melody is all around us,” giving the Colwells and Herb the perfect cue to take the stage. Instantly, the audience was on its feet and the house shook with their applause. The audience roared with delight when Ralph leaned into the microphone and said, “We haven’t done anything yet.”
With Herbie on piano, Paul on banjo, Ralph tapping the base and Steve on guitar, they took us on a bluegrass tour through their early years, backed by alumni Glenn Johnson on drums and Bob Huff on lead guitar.
The always-charming Herbie delighted the audience with stories and played a sentimental rendition of “Ain’t Misbehaving” dedicated to Jane, his bride of 57 years. He brought the audience to its feet with his famous and extraordinary xylophone performance of “Flight of the Bumble Bee” (or as he calls it, “Plight of the Humble Bee”).
The audience got to experience the easy camaraderie between these artists who have worked together for 61 years. Just as they began a song about Colorado’s Wolf Creek Pass, Herbie casually wandered over to the brothers and asked what key they were going to use, then smiled, nodded and strolled back to the piano. Such a delightful moment!
Pat Murphy, another key player in Up with People’s musical history, then lit up the audience and reminded us of our common bond with his adaptation of “Reunion.” The updated tune has become the theme song of UWP’s 50th anniversary celebration this summer in Orlando, Florida.
The last surprise of the night was the appearance of Ted, the fourth Colwell brother. Ted carries on the legacy along with his three brothers as he sang and performed in the 1960s as Sing Out and UWP were starting out. Ted, who chose a career as a doctor, is a very talented guitar player and sometimes performs with his brothers on special occasions.
Helping to close out the show was a local children’s choir called P’zazz. The kids performed the 1967 UWP tune “Colorado” and were later joined for “Sound of Peace” by alumna Jill Lentz, wife of UWP Senior Vice President and Executive Producer Eric Lentz.
The show ended with Ted leading the enthusiastic crowd in “Up With People” with all the energy and joy that this landmark tune has been sung with around the world for 50 years. Clearly, no one wanted the evening to end. Thank you to the Colwell brothers and Herb Allen for the generous donation of their time and talent in creating such a priceless evening!
The Colwells and Herb Allen created a spark in our world through music five decades ago and continue to ignite our alumni community today and to touch the lives of millions of people across the globe. Today’s UWP cast members keep that spark of hope burning bright, building bridges of understanding that link us “One 2 One” in our unsettled world.
I feel the relevancy of UWP’s mission holds strong today and the relevancy of UWP alumni across our globe is more important than ever before. Can you hear it? Their melody is all around us. Let’s play it forward!
Special thanks to the members of Cast 5280 who were the underwriters of the show; Louisa Davis, Bruce and Linda Erley, Jeff and Sammie Kinder, Tim and Charlotte Lane, Mark and Hillary Langston, Joel McColl, Dale and Mindy Penny, Skip and Kay Searcy, Breton Shepherd, Reed and Jen Thompson, Steve and Terry Woods, and Bill and Phyllis Worcester.
A DVD of this special performance, including the video montage presented at the show, is now available for purchase at ushop.joycomultimedia.com/upwithpeople.aspx, with part of the proceeds benefitting the UWP Global Scholarship Fund. A special thank you to Bob Coffin and Joyco Multimedia for his generosity and expertise in taping the performance.
Guests at the 2014 reunion in Tucson were treated to a special performance by Pat Murphy. He thrilled the audience with his new rendition of an old favorite UWP tune, Reunion.
Read about what inspired Pat to create this delightful song and then watch the video on the dedicated UWPIAA YouTube channel. When you've finished all of that, we hope you'll be inspired to register for Celebrate 50! Reunion 2015 and join the fun!