Tournament of Roses Pres. Gerald Freeny sings ‘The Melody of Life’

Gerald Freeny, president of the 2019 Tournament of Roses, at Tournament House. Photo by LB Monteros

by Laura Berthold Monteros

With the Tournament of Roses looking to add more “entertainment value” over the past few years, Pres. Gerald Freeny’s theme for the 2019 Rose Parade, “The Melody of Life,” seems tailor made. But it means more to Freeny than just the excitement that The Forum float with Earth, Wind & Fire brought to the 2018 parade. We had the opportunity chat at Tournament House on Monday about the 130th Rose Parade and 105th Rose Bowl Game, which will be held on Jan. 1, 2019.

“Music is the universal language. It’s something that soothes us, calms us, heals us,” Freeny said. It brings families together and makes enemies into friends, breaks down barriers, breaks down walls, identifies things we have in common. Music brings back memories of special people and loved ones. When Earth, Wind & Fire performed, he said, “everyone was dancing. It brought joy to everyone.”

With music touching nearly everyone, the theme opens many possibilities for float design. “The Melody of Life” fits well with serious and humorous themes, and opens opportunities for performers in all genres of music. Freeny noted that a choir could be on board a float, and music could be gospel, jazz, contemporary, Motown. With the Los Angeles Philharmonic celebrating its 100th anniversary, it could even be classical.

When we asked who his favorite artists are, he had to think. He definitely favors jazz saxophone players though; he mentioned Kenny G, Grover Washington, Jr., Boney James, and Stanley Turrentine, with a nod to guitarist Wes Montgomery. Motown’s high on his list, with the Four Tops, Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, and Lionel Richie getting first mentions.

Life in song

Freeny’s alma mater, John Muir High School in Pasadena, had a reputation for music and sports at the time. He chose sports, but he noted that there was music on in the locker room. On Sunday, he was watching ESPN and noticed how many headsets the players had as they walked out to the field and back into the locker room.

“Music, as well as bringing people together, ties families together,” he said. On holidays when family Continue reading “Tournament of Roses Pres. Gerald Freeny sings ‘The Melody of Life’”