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I am so thankful for all the gifted people who came together and created a work with such a lasting impact. I am also grateful that it lives on as a tribute to the heart and soul and talent of my beloved Bruce Hart who passed away in Bruce and Carole Hart had recently introduced me to Marlo and invited me to work on their new project.

The energy in the room was palpable. I knew that whatever developed from this meeting, I wanted to be part of it. All of the themes resonated within me: My job as Musical Director would be to compose music to express these ideas.

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I would also arrange and conduct my own music as well as the songs written by others. Bruce and I were given the job of writing a title song. Within a few days he showed me a lyric. I composed the music in one day. I work best—and fastest—when fighting a deadline. Early on, I discovered that stalling leads to more stalling and composing leads to more composing. As a Sesame Street composer, I once composed the music for seven songs in ten days. I was pleased with all of them.

I record a piece into my computer—for Free to Be , of course, it was a tape recorder—and forget about it. Free to Be passed the test. I knew that people of all ages would be able to hear it easily and sing it easily. Music and lyrics from other songwriters that we recruited began to appear, and we matched performers to each one. They were also shot lip-syncing in various locations around New York City.

The rolls of tape, two inches wide and ten-and-a-half inches in diameter, soon became too valuable to lose, so we never checked them with our luggage when flying. We always carried them with us. Of course we had made back-ups but in those pre-digital days, there was some loss in quality when tapes were duplicated. When I played the original arrangement for Rosey he asked if I could add a stronger beat to it and illustrated by tapping his foot in tempo.

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I took his foot tapping—some might say stomping—and built the arrangement around that. The timing was tight and I wrote the arrangement on the plane to California. She did the recording in one or two takes, exactly the way I wanted it.

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They were perfect, singing the duet exactly as I had envisioned it without a word from me. The song was developed into a Busby Berkeley-style puppet production, and it became one of the highlights of the show. After completing post-production work on the album, I started to become aware of the cultural force Free to Be would soon become. In a country that was politically and socially divided although not as dramatically as it is today , Free to Be had a definite impact.

I believe one reason Free to Be is passed from generation to generation is that its message continues to be worth repeating. When the record was first released in , I phoned record stores to see if they had stocked their shelves with our album. I visited stores to see if it was placed prominently. I first met Marlo Thomas on March 1, We had arranged to have lunch together at the suggestion of Gloria Steinem, who felt I might be helpful to Marlo on a project she was working on. I'd written an article in Ms.

Over lunch, Marlo and I talked at length about the kind of material she wanted on Free to Be. In order to create an album that was educationally sound, we knew we had to focus first on the basic building blocks of child development. It was obvious that Marlo and I were on the same page, and soon after our lunch, Marlo, Carole Hart and I rolled up our sleeves and began to outline the themes that would embody the project—such as independence and self-fulfillment; the human need for love, sharing and mutual assistance; the joys of creative, cooperative relationships with one's parents, siblings, and friends.

We all agreed that we wanted to help children to be unencumbered by stereotypes—to capitalize on their unique strengths and understand that, whatever their gender, race, or ethnic identity, or their economic origins, they were free to pursue their talents and their dreams. Free to Be had to say all of this—and it had to be fun and entertaining, too!

It's one thing to create an outline; but quite another to bring such lofty ideals to life. But it was precisely those lofty ideals that excited some of the most talented writers in show business. For example, Carl Reiner and Peter Stone were asked to address conventional myths about the differences between boys and girls.

Carl and Peter came up with a hilarious dialogue between two newborn infants in a hospital nursery, who are trying to determine what sex they are, based on the gender typecasting that they've already picked up in just two days on the planet! When the album was ultimately released, what made this piece especially funny and memorable were the performances by Mel Brooks, as the baby boy who was convinced he was a girl; and Marlo, whose baby girl was already a budding feminist.

Throughout the summer of , the Free to Be team revised and refocused the material that had been submitted to us. In mid-summer, we reached an agreement with Bell Records. Marlo and Carole took on the work of contracting major performers for the recording of the work. Free to Be was officially launched less than nine months from the day that Marlo and I first met for lunch. In , the album won a Grammy nomination.

Foundation for Women, was started so that the money raised by the Free to Be book, record, and TV special, and other philanthropic money raised by MFW, could be channeled to projects benefiting children and families.

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Our goal is to empower them to imagine their own future and encourage them to pursue their dreams. The book, edited by Francine Klagsbrun, included new contributions from people such as Anne Roiphe, Judy Blume, Lucille Clifton, and Judith Viorst, who expanded the theme of the record to include such critical subjects as divorce, sibling relationships, personal autonomy vs. The book also included a full representation of real-world life styles and ethnic and racial types, and cheerful support for the non-conforming child.

Complete with new art that had been hand-selected to complement the various stories, the book was published in both hardcover and paperback on March 11th, It promptly won an American Library Association Award, was a New York Times bestseller for several weeks, and to date has sold over a million copies and has become a beloved classic for two generations. Most importantly, Free to Be…You and Me has been widely adopted for school and library use, included in bibliographies, women's studies programs and curriculum booklists, and implemented often with the record by classroom teachers all over the world in units on identity, family living, occupations, social studies, and language arts.

Again, new material was obtained for this third incarnation of the project, and new performers were recruited. We also created a unifying device—wise and funny baby puppets—based on the infants that Carl and Peter had dreamed up for the album. The puppets would serve as continuity characters as the animation and live action moved from theme to theme. It won an Emmy award for children's prime time special, and then The Peabody Award in In the ensuing years, Free to Be…You and Me would continue to regenerate in many beautiful ways. With the help of Sesame Street writer-producer Christopher Cerf as Marlo's co-producer, a sequel, Free to Be a Family , was released in November of as both a book and an album.

This, too, was a big success, and was soon picked up by the Rodgers and Hammerstein catalogue for mass distribution.

Free To Be You And Me | History

It continues to be performed by scores of theatre groups and schools all over the country every year. Perhaps the greatest indicator of the power of Free to Be is its longevity. The book, album, video, and play all continue to sell nearly thirty-three years after the original release. The Free to Be a Family project came about in very much the same way as Free to Be…You and Me did—from what was going on in my family at the time, as well as in the culture. My sister Terre, my brother Tony and I grew up in a very traditional family.

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My father went off to work every day, while my mother stayed home and took care of the kids and the family's needs. When I married in the s, I began a new life as a step-mom, living with my husband and his four sons from his previous marriage. Meanwhile, my sister was divorced and living as a single mom, raising her son and daughter on her own, while my brother was living in a traditional marriage. Like my dad, Tony went off to work every day as a TV producer while his wife stayed home, cared for their three daughters and took charge of the family life.

Although all of our families looked completely different, they were all loving and real and entirely whole. Maybe only one parent lives in the home, or just grandparents. No matter what the configuration, the children of these families all need to be reassured that, despite their differences in appearance, they are all real families. Back then, discriminatory laws did not permit gay couples to marry and adopt children.

In any book that would be done today, of course, these families would be included. One of the most important ideas I wanted to dispel with the book was the notion that there is such a thing as a "broken" family.

Free to Be a Family was designed to address this important idea. As a new and loving step-mom, I wanted to rewrite the myth of the evil stepmother that abounds in children's literature. With so many kids living with step-parents, something had to be done about that! It was fun for us to turn these preconceived notions of family on their ear while shedding new light on the joys and triumphs of all kinds of families—families that were so different from the Dick and Jane stories of our childhood.

This was what made Free to Be a Family such a success and, I think, why it remains so important for kids today. Early in the project, Marlo got together with the writer Letty Pogrebin, and they contacted the Carnegie Corporation, which at the time was exploring how media could be a powerful tool in dispelling social stereotypes. I immediately said yes. I remember at the time being honored to be invited to the event—and jealous of Free to Be! Retrieved February 22, Dave Matthews shows he still loves Saratoga". Retrieved September 30, Retrieved April 6, Retrieved October 14, Retrieved January 9, The Best of What's Around Vol.

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