The Young Americans is a non-profit organization and performing group based in Southern California. First founded in 1962 by Milton C. Anderson, the group is credited with being the first show choir in America, mixing choreography with choral singing. While experiencing national television exposure early on, The Young Americans now teach music to students in the United States and other parts of the world as advocates of music education in their International Music Outreach Tours. The group has approximately 200 young people between the ages of 16 and 25 from nearly every US state and several other countries.
The Young Americans first appeared on a Bing Crosby television special in the early 1960s. For the next several years, the group would appear on numerous variety shows, singing and dancing with entertainers such as Julie Andrews, Judy Garland, and Bob Hope.
In 1967, the group was featured in a film, Young Americans, which was awarded a 1968 Academy Award for best documentary. In May 1969, the film was disqualified because it had premiered in October 1967, and was therefore ineligible for the 1968 award.
1970s and 1980s:
Throughout the 1970s, along with television appearances with Julie Andrews, The Ed Sullivan Show, Kraft Music Hall, and their own television special with Lorne Greene, The Young Americans began concert tours in the United States and abroad at venues that included Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Madison Square Garden, the Hollywood Bowl, and with Liberace in Las Vegas. In 1976, the group performed in an outdoor theatre at the foot of the Washington Monument for the United States bicentennial celebration. In the 1980s, the group continued to tour internationally. The choir's performances for Liberace in the early eighties were featured in the HBO film Behind the Candelabra, based on the book by Liberace's lover Scott Thorson. The latter sections of the film highlight the relationship between Liberace and Young Americans alumnus Cary James, Liberace's lover who died of AIDS in 1995. The affair between Liberace and James is depicted as a major source of tension between Thorson and Liberace. During the film, The Young Americans sing "I Belong With You."
The International Music Outreach Tour was established in 1992 with the aim to show the importance of school music programs. During 10-week tours, the group will visit 2 schools per week presenting 3-day performance workshops to 4th-12th (USA) grade students (internationally ages 5 - 19) . Now touring 7 times per year, the group regularly travels throughout the United States, as well as overseas in countries such as the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, Spain, Gibraltar, the Ukraine, Japan, Australia and Latvia.
In addition to teaching on the outreach tours, the group is more recently focusing on the creation of its own college, The Young Americans College of the Performing Arts. In the summer months, a cast of Young Americans reside in Harbor Springs, Michigan to host a dinner theatre at Boyne Highlands (a Boyne USA resort), that has been running for over 30 years.
The Young Americans College of the Performing Arts (formerly: California Pacific College of the Performing Arts) is a performing arts conservatory in the Greater Los Angeles Area in the United States. It is affiliated with North Central Michigan College and has an enrollment of about 200 students in dance, music, drama and teaching methods.
The group has many alumni who have successful careers in film, television and theatre including:
Vicki Lawrence (The Carol Burnett Show, Mama's Family)
Bob Kevoian (The Bob & Tom Show)
Marc Cherry (Executive Producer & Creator of Desperate Housewives)
Stephanie J. Block (Elphaba in Broadway's Wicked)
Nia Peeples (TV's Fame)
Melissa Hayden (Daytime Emmy winner of Guiding Light)
Mark L. Walberg (Host of Antiques Roadshow)
Reggie Bannister (actor, star of the Phantasm films)
Donovan Tea (thirty years as baritone for the legendary vocal trio The Lettermen).