Simply put, Jamie Shaheen loves music — writing it, performing it, listening to it, even leading children and adults in sing-alongs.
A classically trained pianist as a youth, the Ohio native and Kent State graduate currently plays at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, as well as at a wide variety of events for the Walt Disney Co., and she performs at The Rose classic rock nightclub in Pasadena. In her free time, Shaheen also writes children’s songs, with the CD “Everybody’s Happy When They’re Singing!” currently to her credit.
Recently, Shaheen was going through her personal collection of CDs and old records and discovered a little-known gem published by a local mom-and-pop producer team that would make anyone smile, especially during the holiday season — “Song of the Pasadena Rose Parade.”
“Vis-i-tors from oth-er lands…peo-ple wait-ing…in the stands friends and neighbors all are out to see – a spec-tac-u-lar e-vent an-nual-ly from heav-en sent…to Pas-a-de-na where the crowds will be…to see the Pas – a – de – na Rose Pa-rade on e–‘ry New Year’s Day,” so the song begins.
“I could tell just by looking at the music that it was a great song,” Shaheen said.
The record’s label shows it was sung by Bob Ryer and arranged and produced by Peter Martin. The sheet music shows the music and words were written by Jack Heidenrich of South Pasadena. The song was first published and copyrighted in 1971 by Bal and Bal Music Publishing Co., co-owned by the husband-and-wife team of Adrian and Berdella Bal, from what back then, prior to incorporation with Flintridge in 1976, was known simply as La Cañada. The 45 rpm record, a hand-sized black vinyl disc with a song on both sides, was cut in 1979, according to its label. The song on the other side is titled “Los Angeles,” also sung by Ryer and produced by the Bals.
In 1971, Adrian Bal dropped off a copy of the sheet music at Tournament House, said his wife and business partner, and Heidenrich approached the Tournament about using the song for the 1972 Rose Parade, but he was turned down.
“Dear Jack,” Tournament President Virgil J. White responded to Heidenrich in a Nov. 4, 1971 letter written on Tournament of Roses stationery. “Thanks for your letter and copy of the song. I think I should point out it is not the policy of the Tournament to OK or condemn any songs. Our job,” White wrote, “is to publicize the Tournament of Roses and put on a great parade on New Year’s Day. And, that keeps us pretty busy.”
The theme of the 1972 parade under White’s leadership was “The Joy of Music.” Its grand marshal was TV orchestra leader Lawrence Welk.
In 1979, Frank Sinatra, the world’s ultimate jazz and nightclub entertainer, was picked to serve as grand marshal of the 1980 parade. Fittingly, its theme that year was “Music of America.” Adrian Bal asked then-Tournament President Frank Hardcastle if he would get the song to Sinatra for consideration. But the star seemed to express no interest, and again the tune missed making it into the parade.
“I was going through my CDs and found this. And I said, ‘Oh, my gosh, what is this?’” Shaheen recalls of finding the record among her belongings.
The problem was Shaheen did not have a 45 rpm record player, the kind that looks like a square box with a handle. Her neighbors, Manuel and Josephine Diaz, had a regular-size record player, but one with an adapter for 45s, and said she could use it to listen to the song and record it, which she did. Shaheen copied the song onto both her cell phone and a tape recorder so she could memorize it while driving.
“Pas – a-de-na Rose Pa-rade…you’re go – ing on dis-play,” goes the tune’s second half. “A mil-lion or more peo-ple will gath-er and cheer…Float af-ter beau-ti-ful float…the first day of the year. Bands…their mu-sic play-ing so grand (a joy) – to hear and see…March-ing on the boul-e-vards to a park – called vic-to-ry…Know that gives a thrill by the min-ute…just can’t wait un-til they beg-in it Pa-s-a-de-na Rose Pa-rade it’s you”
Shaheen now says she plans to play the song at The Rose, at Claud Beltran’s upscale Bacchus’ Kitchen restaurant, where she will be entertaining on New Year’s Eve, at events sponsored by the Pasadena Symphony and POPS, “and at any other Pasadena gig,” she said.
Curious to know more about the song, Shaheen sought out the Bals, finding contact information for them in the membership directory of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) Local 47. It was when the two women met last week for the first time at Conrad’s Restaurant in Glendale that Berdella filled in some additional details about the song’s historical journey over lunch.
“It’s a good song. I think it’s amazing Jamie found it,” said Berdella. Her husband died in 2016 at the age of 91, “I don’t believe we have any more copies of it.”
A few years back, someone from the Pasadena Library called to say they had a copy of the song’s sheet music, that it was being included in a project on the city’s history, and would be scanned into a file there, which has since been digitized.
“I was surprised they still had it on file,” said the former local algebra and geometry teacher who now lives in Glendale. Her husband was also a teacher, only he taught high school science in Beverly Hills.
“Maybe they’ll be interested in it now that the story is going out,” Berdella said. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Candy Carlson, senior manager of communications for the Tournament of Roses, had not heard of the song before being contacted by the Pasadena Weekly Tuesday morning, but said she was very interested in its backstory. Coincidentally, at a Tournament leadership meeting Monday, organization officials discussed developing a user-driven page for the Tournament’s web site that would be devoted specifically to personal stories about the parade.
“There are so many amazing stories … this is definitely something that falls into that category,” Carlson said of the song. “I love this story. It’s so fascinating to me.”
“I love Pasadena. I love the history of Pasadena. I love what it stands for,” said Shaheen. “It’s just a lovely community, a lovely city.”