Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley announced today that they will host a very special “Free To Be…You and Me” episode of “Stars In The House” on Friday, June 26 at 8PM ET on the Stars In The House YouTube channel and on starsinthehouse.com.
Actress and activist Marlo Thomas created the award-winning album, book, and television special in the early 70s, that was the first anti-racist, anti-sexist entertainment for children. Thomas will join Seth and James to talk about the legacy of “Free to Be…You and Me,” which inspired children around the world to dream big, and break away from gender and racial stereotypes, to become whatever they could be, not what they should be. The three will be joined by friends and fans of “Free to Be…You and Me,” including Sara Bareilles, Harry Belafonte, Drew Barrymore, Audra McDonald, Benj Pasek, Debra Messing, Free to Be Foundation co-founder Gloria Steinem, Michael McElroy, and others who will talk about the tremendous impact that “Free to Be…You and Me” had on their lives as a groundbreaking project that celebrated individuality. Fans tuning in will be able to interact with guests in real time, ask questions, and donate to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
The episode will showcase a new version of the 1972 Grammy and Emmy Award-winning song, “Free to Be…You and Me,” from Bareilles, which will be released earlier that day through Warner Music Group’s Arts Music division. This marks the first time that the iconic song will be covered and released since its premiere nearly 50 years ago! Fans of the original song, which served as the title track to the album and television special, will notice the new version of the song includes two lyric changes. The word “children” has been changed to “people” in one of the song’s main refrains.
“During this turbulent time of quarantine and social injustice,” Thomas explained, “freedom for children as well as adults is on the line like never before. Also, in order to better embrace the non-binary community, we changed a lyric that referred to ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ growing up to be ‘men’ and ‘women.’” The line now proclaims, “Every child in this land, may you all understand, that you’re proud and you’re strong and you are right where you belong.” A newly released version of “Sisters and Brothers” from Michael McElroy and the Broadway Inspirational Voices will also play an important role in the episode.
“Sara’s soulful voice and personal connection to the original title song made her the ideal artist to bring it back into the world,” Thomas said. “And the choir’s uplifting rendition of ‘Sisters and Brothers’ is the perfect unifying anthem at a time we need it most.” Both songs were written by Stephen Lawrence and Bruce Hart.
Proceeds from the project will go to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, whose mission is critical in these current times.
“We are so excited to finally share this amazing project with everyone,” said Rudetsky and Wesley. Rudetsky recalled, “I first became obsessed with ’Free To Be…” when I was 9 and played the role of William, who wants a doll , in my fourth grade class play… and James has often told me about falling in love with ‘Free To Be…’ after hearing it in his kindergarten class and making his Mom drive all over Dallas to buy the album!"
Added Wesley, “As ‘Free to Be’ kids ourselves, working with Marlo over the past couple of months has been an absolute dream come true. It’s such an honor to collaborate and put a small piece of ourselves into these iconic songs that still give us so much hope and joy during these uncertain times.”
As the creators and executive producers of “Stars In The House,” Seth and James bring a masterful combination of music, storytelling and community to each episode, ensuring that the show goes on in viewers’ homes even while performance venues across the world are closed. This “Free to Be…You and Me” special is produced in association with the Free to Be Foundation and Free to Be Media, under advisement from Michael Barra of Lively McCabe Entertainment on behalf of the Free to Be Foundation.