Up with People Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_with_People

Up with People
Up with People Vertical Logo, Black Text, Gold Star.png
Up with People logo
FoundedJuly 23, 1968 (53 years ago) [1]
TypeEducational, cultural, civic, religious.
Legal status501(c)(3) nonprofit organization[1]
HeadquartersDenver, Colorado, U.S.
Vernon C. Grigg, III

Up with People (UWP) is an American 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.[2] Originating in 1968 as an offshoot of the evangelical Protestant group Moral Re-armament and founded with the aim of opposing the 1960s counterculture and left-wing political movements, Up with People uses tuition-paying volunteers to stage song and dance performances promoting themes such as religion, racial equality, and positive thinking.[3][4] Up with People has received sponsorship from oil companies Exxon-Mobil and Halliburton, far-right and evangelical Christian figures such as Patrick Frawley, Jr. and Republican Party politicians Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.[3]


Up with People originated as an offshoot of the evangelical Protestant group Moral Re-armament (MRA). J. Blanton Belk, then "heir apparent" to MRA leader Peter D. Howard, broke away from MRA under the advice of US President Dwight Eisenhower, who counseled Belk against continuing with MRA and its "dreary image."[5] With Eisenhower's push, Belk founded a song-and-dance troupe that promoted religious faith and opposed then-salient countercultural and anti-establishment attitudes.[3]

Up with People performed songs with titles like "To Tell the Truth" and "You Can't Live Crooked and Think Straight," as well as "The Star-spangled Banner".[6] Up with People's performances reached a wide audience through their affiliation with large corporations, evangelical Protestantism, and Republican Party figures such as Richard Nixon.[3] Up with People sought to extend its influence beyond white American evangelicals by decrying racism in the song "What Color is God's Skin?".[3]

During the 1970s and 1980s, Up with People performed at sporting events like Indianapolis 500,[7] the Cotton Bowl, and Super Bowls X, XIV, XVI, and XX.[8] At this time "professional football was still trying to match the popularity of the college game," and brought in Up with People alongside acts like "university marching bands and high school drill teams."[9] Up with People also performed at the White House.[8]

Despite continued Super Bowl performances and friendliness with Republican politicians, Up with People's popularity began to wane.[9] As the counterculture of the 1960s faded into historical memory, Up with People found itself outmoded. Ironically, the victory of Up with People's evangelical backers threw the group into irrelevance. With the political ascent of Ronald Reagan, American evangelicals ensconced themselves in positions of power and no longer felt the need to sponsor cultural pushback against radical ideas.[9]

By the late 1980s, the NFL, which once provided Up with People with its largest audiences, sought to expand its cultural appeal beyond white, Christian Americans, and began incorporating "multicultural," and, eventually, popular music acts into the Super Bowl halftime show.[9] Losing its "financial lifeblood," Up with People, which introduced tuition fees in 1972, increased its fees to $5,300 (equivalent to $15,441.29 in 2022) for a one year program in 1982.[3][10] These fees drove would-be performers away from the group.

Up with People reorganized its programs in the 1990s. UWP introduced programs for academic credit in the 1990s, and launched a summer camp in 2011.[11] By this point, Up with People's tuition fees "exceeded the cost of most private universities."[3]

Music critics cite Up with People as a stylistic influence for R.E.M's tongue-in-cheek "Shiny Happy People" and the corresponding music video due to its over-the-top and colorful musical spectacle.[12][13][14] The Simpsons parodied the group as "Hooray for Everything," a group of "clean-cut young go-getters," that performs ridiculous songs such as a cover of "Get Dancin" dedicated as a "salute to the Western hemisphere, the greatest hemisphere in the world."[15][16][17][18] The creators of The Book of Mormon, a musical that satirizes the latter-day saint movement cited Up with People as an inspiration for the cartoonishly joyous style of several of the songs in their musical performance, which sends up the clean-cut image of Mormon culture.[19][20][21]

Notable alumni[edit]

Glenn Close, the Emmy- and Tony-award winning and Oscar-nominated actress, was a member of Up with People from 1965 to 1969.[22]

Frank Gatson Jr. traveled with Up with People, and he is known for being the creative director for En Vogue, Brandy, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, and Beyoncé. He has also choreographed videos, routines and live performances for artists including Michael Jackson, TLC, Kelly Rowland, Fifth Harmony, Destiny's Child, Toni Braxton, and Usher.[23][24]

Anya Adams is an Up with People alumna and is known for her role as director and assistant director for TV shows Black-ish, The Mindy Project, Community, CSI Miami, and Body of Proof.[25][26][27]

NBC News correspondent Tom Costello of The Today Show, NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, and CNBC traveled with Up with People. He is quoted as saying "For me, the gap year was a big year of growing up, and I changed profoundly."[28]

Dutch documentary film director, writer, and photographer Koen Suidgeest traveled in 1988. He is known for his films Karla's Arrival, Casting, Out & About, Solo, and Girl Connected as well as his book Why I Cry on Airplanes and his 2015 TED Talk.[29][30][31][32]

Bermudian singer and actress Candace Furbert traveled in Up with People. She is known for performing in London's West End Theatre and her roles in Book of Mormon, Shrek, Dream Girls, Tina, and more.[33]

Director Jon Lawrence Rivera (who has directed theater performances such as Carla, Moscow, All Soul's Day, Red Hat & Tales, and more) traveled with Up with People in 1981 to 16 states and 13 countries. He was quoted as saying "It was an amazing experience," and "It gave me the feeling that whatever you want to do, you can do."[34][35]


  • — (2018). Keep Hope Alive (Studio Recordings from Live on Tour) (CD).
  • — (2018). Live on Tour 2018 (CD).
  • — (2015). The Journey (CD).
  • — (2012). Voices (CD).
  • — (2010). A Song for the World (CD).
  • — (2008–2009). Up with People World Tour (CD).
  • — (1999). A Common Beat (CD).
  • — (1997). Roads (CD).
  • — (1994). The Festival (CD).
  • — (1992). World in Motion (CD).
  • — (1990). Rhythm of the World (CD).
  • — (1988). Face to Face (CD).
  • — (1986). Time for the Music (CD).
  • — (1984). Beat of the Future (CD).
  • — (1980). Encore (CD).
  • — (1980). Holiday Greetings (CD).
  • — (1978). People Are the Energy (CD).
  • — (1976). Push On Through (CD).
  • — (1974). The Show Album (CD).
  • — (1973). Livin' On (CD).
  • — (1972). The Further We Reach (CD).
  • — (1970). Let All the People In (CD).
  • — (1969). Up with People (CD).
  • — (1968). Frontiers of Tomorrow (CD).
  • — (1967). Up with People III (CD).
  • — (1966). Up with People in Hollywood (CD).
  • — (1965). Up with People: The Sing Out Musical (CD).[36]


  1. ^ a b c "Registration Statement For Colorado Charitable Organizations". Colorado Secretary of State. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  2. ^ "Up with People: UWP Global Education Program". Verge Magazine. Retrieved 2019-08-06.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g admin (2018-03-06). "The Hidden Story Of The Up With People Singers". City-County Observer. Retrieved 2022-03-08.
  4. ^ "Our Impact". Up with People. 2019-07-26. Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  5. ^ https://city-countyobserver.com/the-hidden-story-of-the-up-with-people-singers/
  6. ^ Browne, David (2021-02-14). "Chasteness, Soda Pop, and Show Tunes: The Lost Story of the Young Americans and the Choircore Movement". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2022-03-08.
  7. ^ "Retro Indy: Indy 500 National Anthem performers". www.indystar.com. Retrieved 2021-03-23.
  8. ^ a b Salaky, Kristin (2019-02-02). "The Super Bowl halftime show performance the year you were born". Business Insider. Retrieved 2019-08-06.
  9. ^ a b c d Mahler, Jonathan (February 2013). "Remembering Up With People: The Gayish Quasi-Cult That Invented The Super Bowl Halftime Show". Deadspin. Retrieved 2022-03-08.
  10. ^ "Inflation Calculator | Find US Dollar's Value from 1913-2022". www.usinflationcalculator.com. 2022-02-10. Retrieved 2022-03-08.
  11. ^ "Historical Timeline". Up with People. 2019-07-26. Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  12. ^ "In Defense of… R.E.M.'s 'Shiny Happy People'". Diffuser. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  13. ^ "In 1991, R.E.M. (and guest vocalist Kate Pierson of the B-52's) scored a top 10 hit with the buoyant "Shiny Happy People". Billboard. 2002-08-31. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  14. ^ Warren, Robert (2014-08-21). "The 50 dorkiest songs you secretly love". Salon. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  15. ^ "02x07 - Bart vs. Thanksgiving". Forever Dreaming Transcripts. 1998-05-26. Retrieved 2019-08-05.
  16. ^ "Bart vs. Thanksgiving". The Simpsons Archive. 1994-09-10. Retrieved 2019-11-26.
  17. ^ Degli-Esposti, Cristina (1998). Postmodernism in the Cinema. New York, United States: Berghahn Books. p. 68. ISBN 1-57181-105-2.
  18. ^ Greene, Nick (2015-06-09). "17 Simpsons Cultural References Explained for Younger Viewers". Mental Floss. Retrieved 2019-08-05.
  19. ^ Pressley, Nelson (2013-07-05). "'Book of Mormon' creators discuss the musical". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  20. ^ Evans, Everett (2013-09-05). "The many graces of 'Book of Mormon'". Chron. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  21. ^ Gross, Terry (2011-05-09). "'Book Of Mormon' Creators On Their Broadway Smash". NPR. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  22. ^ Kaplan, James (September 12, 1994). "Close to the Bone". New York. pp. 40, 44. Retrieved 2021-04-25.
  23. ^ "Frank Gatson, Jr. | Creative Director | Visual Artist Developer | Choreographer". Dance Mogul. 2019-03-21. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  24. ^ Katsolometes, John (2013-10-17). "With Frank Gatson Jr. onboard, 'Jubilee!' gets a long-awaited makeover". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  25. ^ "Lemonade Mafia". Athena Film Festival. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  26. ^ "Filmography". IMDb. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  27. ^ Adams, Anya. "Anya Adams's Bio". Seconds Acts. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  28. ^ Chuck, Elizabeth (2016-03-25). "NBC News' Tom Costello: Taking A 'Gap Year' Before College Changed My Life". NBC News. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  29. ^ Suidgeest, Koen. "UWPIAA Article". Koen Suidgeest. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  30. ^ "Biography". Why I Cry On Airplanes. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  31. ^ "Where Are They Now? Interview with Koen Suidgeest". Up with People. 2019-06-26. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  32. ^ "Who is Saving Whom? | Koen Suidgeest | TEDxBerkleeValencia". YouTube. 2015-05-27. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  33. ^ Davis, Gina (2019-01-09). "Candace Furbert's 'Memoirs Of The Entertainer'". Bernews. Retrieved 2019-08-06.
  34. ^ Manus, Willard (2001-01-29). "Jon Lawrence Rivera Loves L.A. Playwrights—and L.A. Theatre". Playbill. Retrieved 2019-08-06.
  35. ^ Kaan, Gil (2019-04-25). "BWW Interview: Prolific Director Jon Lawrence Rivera Leads ANNA Into THE TROPICS". Broadway World. Retrieved 2019-08-06.
  36. ^ "Up with People - Albums". Apple Music. 2019-08-01. Retrieved 2019-08-01.

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