Arkadelphia Siftings Herald - Arkadelphia, AR
  • A tribute to the Beatles draws crowd

  • Their first album released in the United States was "Meet the Beatles" and 50 years later Louise Harrison, sister of Beatle George Harrison, is inviting students in schools throughout the U.S. to meet the Beatles once again.

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  • Their first album released in the United States was "Meet the Beatles" and 50 years later Louise Harrison, sister of Beatle George Harrison, is inviting students in schools throughout the U.S. to meet the Beatles once again.
    Her band, the Liverpool Legends, brings the ultimate Beatles experience to students at the schools she visits as students become involved in all the aspects of the concert. This marriage of music and education is a natural fit, said Dr. Wesley Kluck of Ouachita Baptist University, who had seen the group perform in Branson.
    "Music stimulates a child's learning ability," said Harrison.
    Kluck agreed and added, "Students used to listen to music as they were doing math. It's a medical fact."
    The multi-generational commonality of the Beatles music, the superb performance of the Liverpool Legends and Harrison's desire to inspire students to learn through music are the catalysts that drove Kluck to bring the band to OBU.
    Classics never go out of style and the students on stage, those working in the Jones Theatre and in the audience found out the classic rock of the Beatles is fun. One student concert goer said, "I will remember this all my life."
    After nearly 50 years, the Beatles are still changing the world one school at a time, thanks to Harrison. The Beatles music, which includes almost 300 songs is "the twentieth century packaging of the age old philosophy of love. Their message reached the whole world," said Marty Scott, who portrays George Harrison in the Beatles tribute band.
    The Living Legends, who have been wowing Branson, Mo., audiences for several years, are embarking on a new mission of music, learning and love. The new venture is something of which the late George Harrison would surely approve. He is quoted as saying, "Music can make a world of difference in the life of a child, as it did in mine. Help keep music alive in our schools." That is a message his sister takes to heart. Her new charitable foundation is called Help Keep Music Alive.
    Considered by music critics worldwide to be the best and most important band in rock history, the Beatles were formed in 1960. Liverpool, England in that era was fertile ground for an explosive music scene.
    "It was after World War II and the economy was just starting to improve a little bit,”?Louise Harrison said. “When boys left school there was a high unemployment rate. If you could get in a band and play clubs you could make a little money."
    Her brother George was the youngest Beatle, in fact when they played some of their first gigs in Hamburg he was sent back to England by German officials for being underage to work in clubs. He was 17 years old and undaunted by this setback. It's no surprise to his sister who said, "Our parents taught us, ‘to Thine own self be true.’ If you really believe, don't ever give up."
    Page 2 of 3 - For the next six years the Beatles did just that.
    "If you look at their schedules, the Beatles were touring almost non-stop, when they did get two weeks off they had to write songs for new albums. They recorded without rehearsal. They were prolific," said Scott.
    "But not to the exclusion of living life. They were all very much family men," said Harrison.
    "The Beatles loved America and all the things that were different from Britain,”?Harrison said. “They loved the excess. Everything was bigger in America. In England you had the British Broadcasting Company, if you got on the BBC you'd made it. But in America at the time there were 6,000 radio stations."
    Fortunately she was living in America when the Beatles were achieving popularity in Britain and she helped pave the way for their success in the U.S.
    "In 1963 I went to radio stations in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri to get my kid brother's band on the air. It was difficult. I also sent records to stations all around and I still the have rejection letters I received," she said.
    All that quickly changed once the Beatles played on the Ed Sullivan Show. That performance is described by Scott as "fearless. By 1964 they had been working up to 10 hours a day for the last four years." They were seasoned professionals by the time of their first American appearance.
    Scott and his bandmates are also seasoned professionals.
    "They are excellant musicians and excellent impersonators. I chose them for those reasons and because they are guys George would like to hang out with. The band is a family." said Harrison.
    And as a Harrison, she possesses that same tenacious drive as her brother. The vibrant senior said, "I am 80 years old, I feel 35. There are 60,000 schools in America. I'm not waiting for a boat to cross over the river Styx."
    For schools, students and audiences, this is a good thing.
    OBU band director, Dr. Craig Hamilton said, "This show lets our students see how professionals work. We have 43 members of our wind ensemble and a dozen vocalists performing with the Liverpool Legends. They are having fun! It's absolutely different from everything that we do. This music attracts a mainstream audience to our school. The Beatles bridge the gap. People will come to hear this music that won't come to other concerts. For students it's another outlook, another venue. They need as many experiences as they can have to prepare them for when the real job comes."
    When asked if she enjoyed the experience, OBU student Kelsey Bates of Marion, who played french horn with the Liverpool Legends replied, "Absolutely, it was fun! It is just different from everything we do." Bates who plans to be a high school or middle school band director upon graduation said, "Louise Harrison's Help Keep Music Alive encourages fun with music and increases public awareness of music in schools. This process was really exciting."
    Page 3 of 3 - Trombone student, Andrew McCraw from Fort Worth agreed. "I have a whole new appreciation for the Beatles. My favorite song has got to be ‘Hey Jude.’"
    To find out more about Louise Harrison and Help Keep Music Alive visit www.lh-hkma.org.
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