It was a turbulent time in the mid 60’s both in America and around the world. We were in the midst of a cold war.  The USA and the Soviet Union were eyeball to eyeball each with the atomic weapon. America was being torn apart with racial strife and deeply divided over Vietnam. There was a worldwide eruption of youth, demanding a voice in their affairs and the affairs of their countries. The only policy in the USA seemed to be, “how quickly can we shut them up?” I thought if we could harness some of that energy and give them a positive voice it might capture their attention and touch the world.

Working closely with my colleague Donald Birdsall, we invited university student presidents to meet with us in Tucson. They responded immediately to the idea of a summer youth conference in Mackinac, MI. Olympic Gold Medal oarsmen, John Sayre and Rusty Wailes along with Steve, Paul and Ralph Colwell and Herb Allen mobilized numbers of young people to go out and invite other students to the conference.
Moral Re-Armament provided the facilities at Mackinac. A thousand youth came from everywhere. The challenge was, “The world knows what you are against, but they don’t know what you are for and what your ideas are for the great issues of the day.” There followed a creative explosion and music, the international language, was their medium.

A rough musical demonstration was cobbled together. The Colwells and Herb were the glue and the guide that held it all together. It elicited great and wild support from those in attendance but would it work in the public? So we took off to test the water. Cape Cod, MA, Stamford CT, then the first publicly sponsored show in the Hilton Hotel ballroom on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, DC. Ninety five congressmen from both parties were the sponsors and many were in the audience of 5,000.

Yes, it worked with the public. It communicated, connected, inspired and motivated. When the show ended I went backstage to thank the cast. They were very excited and then they turned thoughtful and serious. The voice that Don and I heard was, “We’ve got something going.  We’d like to keep it going and stay on the road.” A totally selfless and courageous idea! We never hesitated. Let’s do it. And we did.
A new age was dawning. A journey had begun. A star-shell had exploded that is still today bringing hope and spirit to a troubled world after 50 wonderful years. It was a beginning.

- J. Blanton Belk 

  • 22,000 cast members representing 132 Countries since 1965
  • Up with People has performed over 24,000 shows in 72 countries
  • 367 original songs have been written for Up with People shows
  • Up with People has made 14,000 visits to communities and traveled over 5.5 million miles (9 million kilometers)
  • Approximately 1.1 billion people have watched an Up with People show live or via radio and/or TV media
  • Over 800,000 host families have hosted cast members
  • Up with People cast members have performed more than 3 million hours of Community Action projects in communities around the world
  • Up with People has performed in 4 Super Bowls and at 6 World Expos

The 1960′s

1965  Sing Out ‘65 performs the first public shows on August 7th and 8th before 2800 people at the Ezio Pinza Outdoor Theater in North Stamford, CT
1965  Sing Out ‘65 performs the first sponsored show for an audience of 5,000 at the Washington, DC Hilton Hotel. The show was arranged by a 95 person congressional committee of members of both parties some who had seen the show in Cape Cod, MA and invited Sing Out ‘65 to Washington, DC.  At the end of a long standing ovation, members of Sing Out ‘65 invited J. Blanton Belk backstage and told 
him that they would like to go on the road. We took a big leap of faith and said, “Let’s do it!”
1965  Sing Out High School begins with 35 students from the first cast
1965  Sings Out ‘65 crosses the country and makes two significant appearances-- the Hollywood Bowl show for 15,000 and the first event at Jordan High School in Watts after the Los Angeles race riots
1965  Schick TV Spectacular featuring the Sing Out ‘65 musical Up with People broadcast on national TV to an audience of 100 million
1965  Sing Out ‘65 travels to Japan and Korea
1966  Local Sing Outs established in the U.S.A. and abroad
1966  Sing Out ‘66 travels to West Germany and meet former Chancellor Konrad Adenauer who encourages J. Blanton Belk to incorporate as an independent program for the youth of the world
1966  Sing Out ‘66 casts meet President Dwight Eisenhower in Gettysburg, PA and President Harry S. Truman in Independence,  MO
1966 Sing Out ’66 tours Puerto Rico, Panama, Jamaica, Venezuela, and Mexico for the first time 
1967  Sing Out ‘67 performs for former President Dwight Eisenhower in Indio, CA  
1967  The  Wallace Foundation underwrites in part the first nationwide tour
1967  World Sing Out Festival is held at Ft. Slocum, NY
1967  During late 1967 and early 1968 two visionaries, President Dwight Eisenhower  and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer encouraged J. Blanton Belk to incorporate under the name Up with People as a non-profit apolitical, non-sectarian, educational program
1967  Sing Out ‘67 performs at the Expo ‘67 in Montreal, Canada
1968  First tour of Norway, Finland and Denmark
1968  Up with People is received by Pope Paul VI  in Vatican City
1968  Up with People’s first performance at Carnegie Hall, New York City
1968  President Mobutu invites Up with People to be his guests at the Congolese Independence Day celebrations in Kinshasa
1968  World Up with People Festival is held at Ft. Slocum, NY  
1968  Up with People is incorporated as a 501(c)(3)  nonprofit, apolitical, non-sectarian international educational organization
1968  NBC TV special sponsored by Coca-Cola and Reader's Digest is broadcast in the U.S.A.
1969  Up with People cast members ride the theme float in the Nixon Inaugural Parade
1969  First tour of Belgium and France
1969  Up with People performs for King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola of Belgium
1969  Up with People performs for 34,000 Boy Scouts at the National Scout Jamboree
1969  Up with People returns to Mexico sponsored by Pepsi-Cola Mexicana

The 1970′s

1970   Up with People performs at halftime at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas
1970   Gala performances given at L'Olympia Music Hall in Paris
1970   First performance in Royal Albert Hall, London
1970   Up with People appears at Expo ‘70 in Osaka, Japan
1970   Pepsi-Cola Mexicana sponsors a 9 week tour of Mexico
1970   First tour of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia by the Smithfields
1971   Up with People and the Smithfields perform with Bob Hope for the National Governors Conference at The White House, Washington, DC
1971   Pepsi Cola of Japan sponsors a 13-city tour of Japan 
1971   First performance in Lincoln Center, New York City
1972   Up with People spends 5 weeks in Atlanta public schools during desegregation 
1972  Up with People performs at the Olympic Village Theatre, Munich after the tragic massacre of Israeli athletes
1972  General Electric sponsored tour of 23 cities and plants
1973  The Up with People CBS TV special is broadcast nationwide in the U.S.A.
1973  Up with People performs for H.R.H. Princess Margaret at Royal Albert Hall, London
1974  Up with People makes first visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles with performances aimed at breaking down barriers and empowering both sides to work together
1974 First tour of Yugoslavia with performances in 23 cities in 27 days, beginning Up with People’s relationship with communities in Eastern Europe and the start of several cross-community projects that inspired communication and détente
1974  Up with People performs at the World Expo-Spokane sponsored by General Electric
1975  Up with People performs in 771 cities in 48 states for 3.9 million people during the Bicentennial tour of the United States
1975  Up with People tours Morocco for the first time
1975  Up with People spends 2 weeks in the Boston public schools bringing open dialogue and communication during a tense time of desegregation
1976  Up with People performs in Super Bowl X in Miami, FL for a live audience of 80,100 and 57.7 million TV viewers
1976  Up with People visits 15 Southwestern tribes in 17 different communities in AZ and NM
1976  Up with People tours Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Poland for the first time; Up with People returns to Yugoslavia for a second tour
1977  Up with People returns to Belfast, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
1977  Up with People presents three TV specials with Televisa in Mexico
1977  First tour of Guatemala
1977  Up with People performs for President Gerald Ford and Bob Hope at the Rotary Lombardi Award ceremony in Houston, TX
1978  Tucson Symphony Orchestra and Up with People present a joint musical extravaganza marking the beginning of a new tradition of collaboration
1978  First tour of Sweden
1978  Harte-Hanks Newspapers, Inc. sponsors a 17-city tour 
1978  Up with People’s first visit to the People’s Republic of China, becoming the first multi-national youth group to visit the country in 29 years
1978  General Electric Centennial Tour of 22 states and 44 cities
1979  King Juan Carlos of Spain meets Up with People in Madrid during their tour of 47 cities throughout 14 Spanish regions
1979  First tour of The Netherlands

The 1980′s

1980  Up with People performs during halftime at Super Bowl XIV in Pasadena, CA for a live audience of 103,985 and 76.2 million TV viewers
1980  Three Up with People casts visit 22 cities during the Kodak Centennial Tour
1980  First tour of Costa Rica
1980  Combined performance with Belgian National Orchestra in Brussels celebrating the 150th anniversary of Belgium
1981  Up with People returns to Colombia and Peru  
1981  Coca Cola sponsor’s Americana Trail TV special featuring Up with People
1981 Up with People’s fifth visit to the Republic of Ireland and the fourth to Northern Ireland is the most comprehensive tour to date
1982  Up with People performs at Super Bowl XVI in Pontiac, MI for a live audience of 81,270 and 85.24 million TV viewers
1982  Up with People performs all summer at the World Expo-Knoxville, TN
1982  Up with People performs all summer at Sea World-San Diego, CA
1982  Up with People performs with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra
1983  Up with People is received by Pope John Paul II at the Vatican 
1983  Five Up with People casts undertake General Motors 75th Anniversary Tour of 96 plants in 56 cities on 2 continents
1984  Up with People is invited by the King and Queen of Jordan to Amman for the Jerash Festival
1985  Up with People introduces the first named show called Beat of the Future
1985  Up with People returns to People’s Republic of China for a second tour
1985  Up with People perform the Honeywell International Corporate Tour in multiple North American and European cities
1986  Up with People performs at Super Bowl XX in New Orleans, LA for a live audience of 73,818 and  92.57 million TV viewers
1986  Coca Cola Japan’s Centennial Anniversary features Up with People in a 17-city tour of Japan endorsed by the Ministries of Education and Finance to promote cultural exchange and friendship
1986  Up with People performs at the 20th Annual United Nations Ambassadors’ Dinner
1986  Up with People appears as the featured artist at the 60th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City for 60 million TV viewers
1987  Up with People introduces a new show called Time for the Music
1987  Up with People performs at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the International Summer Special Olympics World Games, South Bend, IN
1988  Coca Cola Mexicana sponsors Up with People’s tour of Mexico
1988  Up with People tours the Soviet Union at the height of Glasnost
1988  Up with People performs at World Expo ‘88 in Brisbane, Australia
1988  Up with People performs at Rugby Grand Finals halftime show, Sydney, Australia
1989  Up with People introduces a new show called Face to Face
1989  Up with People performs for U.S. President George H. W. Bush’s Inauguration in Washington, DC
1989  Up with People visits both the USSR (Ukraine), and Jordan (Jerash Festival) for a second time
1989  Up with People undertakes the McCormick Spice Corporate Centennial Tour of 12 cities in the U.S.A.  and Canada   
1989  Up with People performs at De Efteling Theme Park, The Netherlands
1989  Up with People cast celebrates the fall of the Berlin Wall in Goslar and West Berlin with West and East Germans

The 1990′s

1990  Up with People performs at Surf ‘90, in Fujisawa, Japan
1990  Up with People’s 25th Anniversary celebration held in Denver, CO
1991  Up with People introduces a new show called Rhythm of the World
1991  Up with People returns to Australia for a 6 week tour of 9 cities
1991  Up with People performs in 8 cities in Czechoslovakia for the first time  
1991  Gala performance at the National Theatre in Panama City, Panama
1991  Up with People returns to the Soviet Union for a 2 week tour of Moscow, Tver and Nizhny Novgorod
1991  Up with People casts perform on July 4th  in front of the Washington Monument, Washington, DC; in front of the USS Constitution in Boston, MA; at the Freedom Festival in Philadelphia, PA at Folsom Stadium in Boulder, CO and at Texas Stadium, Dallas
1991  Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti receives cast members during a visit to Rome
1991  Up with People performs for a special celebration commemorating King Baudouin of Belgium’s 60th birthday and 40th anniversary of his reign
1991  Up with People returns for multi-city tour of Estonia
1992  Up with People performs at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development’s Earth Summit in Brazil sponsored by Environmental Foundation, USA
1992  Groundbreaking ceremonies held for new Up with People International Center in Broomfield, CO
1992  Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari appears with Up with People on Mexican TV for an environmental project
1993  Up with People introduces a new show called World in Motion
1993  Up with People performs at the Sanremo Music Festival
1993  Up with People relocates world headquarters from Tucson, AZ to Broomfield, CO
1993  Up with People performs for Pope John Paul II and for U.S. President Bill Clinton at the 8th World Youth Day attended by 90,000 people in Denver, CO
1993  Up with People undertakes The Hershey Company Corporate 75th Anniversary Tour
1993  Up with People launches an urban school program called Project Pride sponsored by Los Angeles School System
1994  Up with People spends 3 weeks in Alaska touring the state from Ketchikan to the Arctic Circle
1994  Up with People tours Bermuda for the third time
1994  Up with People begins a 10 week tour of Australia
1994  Up with People performs on New Year Eve’s 1994 in Hong Kong sponsored by the Urban Council and Hong Kong Telecom
1995  Up with People steps away from variety show format and adopts the book musical format  for the new show called The Festival
1995  Project Pride programs take place in Tucson, Denver and San Antonio
1995  Up with People establishes formal education agreements with several U.S. universities
1995  Up with People celebrates its 30th Anniversary in Breckenridge, CO and salutes the Colwell-Allen song writing team
1996  Up with People performs at the Coca Cola Pavilion and at the opening of the softball stadium during the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, GA
1996  Up with People returns to Venezuela
1997  Up with People’s  9-city  Japan tour sponsored by Toyota, IBM Japan and McCann Erickson Hakuhodo
1998  Up with People introduces a new show called Roads
1998  Up with People tours Slovakia for the first time
1998  Up with People performs at Expo ‘98 in Lisbon, Portugal and for Scania in Sweden
1999  Up with People performs at the first Celebration of Peace event with Colin Powell in Denver, CO
1999  Launching of the Communities of Peace school program

The 2000′s

2000  Up with People introduces a new show called A Common Beat
2000  Chevrolet Motor Division begins a one year sponsorship of Up with People as well as an  International-presenting sponsor of A Common Beat show
2000  Up with People expands Communities of Peace program in Boston, Denver, Omaha, and San Antonio
2000  Up with People participates in the 15th World Youth Day in Rome for the second time
2000  Up with People holds 35th Anniversary celebration in Orlando, FL
2000  Up with People suspends operations
2000  Up with People performs the halftime show at the Culligan Holiday Bowl with volunteer cast in San Diego, CA
2004  Up with People resumes operations with a new program model called WorldSmart, An Up with People Program
2005  A musical production is added to the WorldSmart program
2005  Up with People celebrates its 40th Anniversary at the “40 Years and Counting” Reunion in Tucson, AZ
2006  WorldSmart is renamed as the Up with People program
2006  Up with People introduces a new show called The Up with People Show: Bringing the World Together
2007  Up with People launches new Emerging Countries program in Thailand and the Philippines
2007  Up with People makes second appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City for 60 million TV viewers
2007  Up with People participates in the United Nations Culture of Peace Forum at the UN Headquarters in New York City
2008  Up with People produces and performs in the Opening Ceremony of the 119th Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA
2008  Up with People, branded as Viva la Gente in Latin America, returns to Mexico for a 5 week tour
2009  Up with People introduces a new show called A Song for the World
2009  Up with People helps Bermuda celebrate its 400th Anniversary with 2 week tour and performs for Gov. Sir Richard Gozney, Premier Dr. Ewart Brown and the Honourable Lt. Col. David Birch (‘73A), Minister of Labour, Home Affairs, Housing and Immigration
2009  Up with People visits Taiwan for the first time
2009  Up with People celebrates Vattenfall’s 100th Anniversary with a 12-city tour of Sweden, Poland, Germany, Denmark and Finland

The 2010′s

2010  Up with People returns to Manila, Philippines for intense, month-long service projects and performances
2010  Up with People cast performs for H.R.H. Queen Silvia of Sweden at the Mentor Foundation Gala, Washington, DC and at the Iraqi Embassy
2011  Up with People returns to Pasadena, CA as producers and featured performers in the Opening Celebration for the 122nd Tournament of Roses Parade
2011  Up with People tours the Grand Bahama Island for first time
2011  Up with People cast performs for H.R.H. Princess Margriet of the Netherlands at the royal residence in Wassenaar
2011  Up with People welcomes campers to the inaugural session of Camp Up with People in Harrisonburg, VA
2012  Up with People introduces a new show called VOICES
2012  First Iraqi student travels with Up with People
2012  Up with People returns to Brazil for the United Nations’ Rio+20 Earth Summit
2012  During Taiwan’s National Day Up with People performs for the President of Taiwan in a televised celebrations in Taipei  
2012  Up with People establishes a study abroad program with Florida Southern College as the school of record
2013  Up with People performs in Zocalo Square, Mexico City
2013  Up with People performs for H.R.H. Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and her husband, Prof. Pieter van Vollenhoven in Apeldoorn
2013  Up with People performs for Pope Francis I and 70,000 people, St. Peter’s Square
2014  Up with People’s historic first tour of Israel with shows in Tiberias and Ramat Gan
2014  Up with People tours Cuba for the first time and performs in Santa Clara and Havana
2015  Up with People launches the 50th Anniversary tour with events  in Denver, Tucson,  Orlando, Mexico City, Brussels, and Rome
2015  Up with People introduces its 50th Anniversary show titled The Journey