July 8, 2024

The Greatest Love

In the late 80s, Kevin Dowsett would have made more money if he had a pound for every audition featuring The Greatest Love of All. The lyrics, while sometimes seen as cheesy, truly resonate. He witnessed many off-key renditions, but one moment at the Royal Albert Hall transformed the song into pure magic.

At one period in the late 80s, I would have had more money in my pocket if I had a pound for every audition in which I heard The Greatest Love of All. It was a very popular song and it’s not hard to see why. The lyrics may seem cheesy even banal but they mean something.

I believe that children are our future

Teach them well and let them lead the way

Show them all the beauty they possess inside

Give them a sense of pride to make it easier

Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be..

You’d have to have a heart of stone not to agree. But yes, I have heard it mullered many times. When sung completely out of tune it takes on a whole new ironic sense of its own. You want the pain to stop and ask a question like, “And why did you choose that song?” or “How did you feel that went?” Out-of-tune singers are usually blissfully unaware of how far from the note they are but funnily enough most people do sing in tune. It’s nerves that push them a bit too high or low. I must admit though that there were times when I was biting hard on my fist. Once I was waiting for an auditionee to walk out on stage when I heard some banging noises. I went up to investigate and a girl was hitting her head on the stage scenery. I said, “What are you doing?” She explained that she was getting herself in the right mood to perform. That she had to be angry and then she could calm herself by singing the song. I later said to her that I thought on balance it was probably better to act out the pain, imagine it, rather than inflict it on yourself.

Years later in our first show at the Royal Albert Hall, we created a number just for 6-9 year olds and we had them process in twos singing this song as they slowly walked down all the aisles of the hall and went into the arena. The audience erupted because there was something so innocent, so enchanting about these young people singing such a simple lyric – the opposite of cheesy. Then the orchestra swelled and the rest of the choir joined in them to sing…

I decided long ago

Never to walk in anyone’s shadows

If I fail, if I succeed

At least I’ll live as I believe

No matter what they take from me

They can’t take away my dignity

At this point, they all produced from nowhere a piece of red paper that they gradually unfolded to make hundreds of hearts which they then held up as they sang…,

Because the greatest love of all

Is easy to achieve

Learning to love yourself

Is the greatest love of all.

The cheers still ring in my ears. I think the applause was so powerful because parents looking in saw the hope in themselves when young, they saw their children now and perhaps some thought of how they would be in the future. They wanted for them happiness, joy and peace and who could ask for more because isn’t that what we all want for ourselves and our children?

Theatretrain, a nationwide provider of weekend theatre schools for young people aged 4-18, specialises in weekly classes in acting, singing, and dancing. An emphasis is placed on learning valuable life skills such as confidence, empathy, courage, and resilience. If you know a child who loves to dance, act and sing or could do with a little confidence boost why not visit to find out what our performing arts classes can offer your child at one of our 80 locations across the UK.

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