Born Free USA Blog
by Will Travers,
Chief Executive Officer
What can you say about a big-hearted bloke who has rescued dolphins, tigers, elephants and more and whose parents once helped a lion cub from a department store by caring for him in their backyard and engineering his rightful return to Africa? You can safely say that he's got great animal instincts! In 1984, Will Travers joined his parents — "Born Free" film stars Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers — to form what became The Born Free Foundation. With knowledge, passion and compassion dripping from his every word, Will's blogs are sure to make you embrace our crusade to Keep Wildlife in the Wild ®.
For those of a certain generation (and many more besides) mention of the words “Born Free” evokes images of Africa, Elsa the lioness, Joy and George Adamson ... perhaps even my parents, Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, who starred in that classic, heart-warming film.
But it also makes a lot of people hum, or sing, the transcendent title song.
Its clear and powerful melody, its simple yet profound words, provided by lyricist Don Black, have become a standard. Covered by many, the original, effortlessly sung by British crooner and former London taxi cabbie Matt Monro, has never been surpassed. Incredibly, Monro and others had to lobby for the song to be restored to the film after the producers initially rejected it for not being commercial enough. Hah!
John Barry composed “Born Free” and received two Oscars at the 1967 ceremonies: for best original song and best original score. A giant in the entertainment business, perhaps best known for his extraordinary contribution to James Bond music (from “Dr. No” to “The Living Daylights”), Barry had an easily recognizable style that embraced lush string arrangements and triumphant brass. An innovator, he was among the first film composers to employ a synthesizer.
“Born Free” star and co-founder of The Born Free Foundation, Virginia McKenna, presented Barry with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2005 Academy Awards in London.
John Barry died of a heart attack on Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011, at his home on Long Island, N.Y. He was 77.
The Born Free Foundation, which I co-founded with my parents in England, and Born Free USA, one of the growing forces for positive change in the United States, both rely on the support of generous people such as yourselves to work for the animals — to protect them in the wild, to end their suffering in captivity, to nurture a culture of compassion that this planet so desperately needs to ensure a brighter future for all living creatures.
We owe John Barry a huge debt of gratitude. Through that song, with that soaring “Born Free” score, he helped create an anthem to all wildlife in need and contributed mightily to what we stand for. Surely, as the song says, “Born Free, and life is worth living. But only worth living ’cause you're Born Free.”
We are Born Free. Our mission is clear and nothing sums up what we are all about better than the music and lyrics that go to make up one of popular music's most enduring songs — one that I know many of you are humming right now!