Monday, January 7, 2013

Project 3 : Toastmasters : Happy Birthday

Good morning to you,
Good morning to you,
Good morning, dear children,
Good morning to all
Does not sound quite right... Let me try this …
Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday to You
Happy Birthday Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday to you !

No , I haven’t gone insane, not yet and for most of you here  who are looking at me with a half amused and half ‘ she’s gone bonkers look, here’s a question –How many of you have heard the song ‘ Happy Birthday to You ‘for the first time ? Can I see a show of hands ? None. Just as I thought.  Not surprising for according to the Guinness Book of World Records, "Happy Birthday to You" is the most recognized song in the English language.

So fellow Toastmasters and dear guests, for my project 3, I will like to throw some light this delightful little song that had for generations been a part of our culture and my project is suitably titled - Happy Birthday'

I believe Happy Birthday is a universal song it is indeed - It’s probably the only song common between an American toddler in New York , an African child in Nairobi , a Japanese teenager in Tokyo , a young adult in Dubai and an working professional in Bangalore ! There is no other song that binds us better than a Happy Birthday to You.  Like I mentioned earlier "Happy Birthday to You" is the most recognized song in the English language and the song’s base lyrics have been translated into at least 18 languages.

But did you ever wonder how did this song come into being? Let me share with you some history - remember the ‘Good Morning’ song I sang earlier ? Well, that my friends is forerunner to the Happy Birthday Song . The ‘Good Morning’ song was written and composed by 2 American sisters Patty and Mildred Hill in 1893. Patty was a kindergarten teacher in Kentucky and Mildred was a pianist and composer. The sisters created "Good Morning to All" as a song that would be easy to be sung by young children. The Hill Sisters' students enjoyed their teachers' version of "Good Morning to All" so much that they began spontaneously singing it at birthday parties, changing the lyrics to "Happy Birthday and that is how ‘Happy Birthday to You’ came into being.

Like all good songs,’ Happy Birthday to You' was copyrighted in 1935 by Summy Company, the publisher of ‘Good Morning to All’. A new company, Birch Tree Group Limited, was formed to protect and enforce the song's copyright. In 1998, the rights to Happy Birthday to You’ and its assets were sold to Time Warner - a great deal for Time Warner because  ‘Happy Birthday to You’ brings in approximately 2 million dollars in licensing revenue each year. Imagine that !

One of the most famous performances of ‘Happy Birthday to You’ was by Marilyn Monroe who sang it for who else - U.S. President John F. Kennedy in May 1962.
But my interest in the song is more sentimental than monetary or otherwise .For me it will always be the song that brings back the fun times I had with my friends, family, and colleagues!

A song that brings flashes of images of a scrawny kid in her mother’s arm drooling over a cake with pink and chocolate icing, while the rest of the children also drooling religiously sang this birthday anthem. Strangely the tune of the song lingered longer than the taste of the cake.

That fellow toastmasters and guests is my earliest memory associated with Happy Birthday, what’s yours? 

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