Ralph Johnson Colwell papers

MS 748
Awards given to Ralph Johnson Colwell for his work with Up with People

Awards given to Ralph Johnson Colwell for his work with Up with People

Collection area: Performing Arts

Collection dates: 1966-2018

About this collection

This collection contains material related to Ralph Johnson Colwell’s work with Up with People. The major focus is the 1970’s to 1990’s when Ralph was employed first as Director of Show Productions and later as Director of TV and Video Productions. The collection includes administrative files, show creation and production records, performance materials and event recordings, oversize awards, and some post-Up with People materials. Items are arranged into series and then are arranged alphabetically.

Please note, use of original audiovisual materials is restricted due to their fragile nature. Access copies of these materials are not currently available. Please contact an archivist for more information regarding the use of audio visual materials within this collection.

Historical background

Ralph Johnson Colwell (1937-2018) was among the musical founders of Up with People. While still teenagers the Colwell Brothers (Steve, Paul and Ralph) formed their own band and began singing, performing and writing songs. An appearance on the Tex Williams Show led to a recording contract with Columbia Records. During the 1950’s the brothers had the opportunity to travel across 60 countries. In this period they developed their ability to write and perform songs in different languages. In 1965 Ralph and Paul wrote the song “Up with People”, coining the phrase which became the corporate name for that educational program. Ralph and his brothers performed in the original Up with People cast. In 1971 Up with People named Ralph Director of Show Productions. In this capacity he directed the Super Bowl halftimes in 1976, 1980 and 1982 and produced performances in collaboration with numerous symphony orchestras in the US and Europe. Subsequently he became Director of TV and Video Productions, creating, among other things, the award winning video “A Song for China” in collaboration with KUAT. On December 12, 2018 Ralph passed away in Tucson, Arizona following a battle with cancer.

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