Richard Sherman

I was running late. The previous session had run over. I needed to run! I jogged across the campus to make it to my next meeting. It was in the presentation room at Imagineering HQ. After a quick sprint down the John Hench Graffiti Hallway, I quietly ducked into the venue. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone. I followed in a few other late arrivals. The person in front of me and I took a seat on one of the couches in the back. The meeting hadn’t yet started. I let out a sigh of relief and the person next to me smiled and nodded a sympathetic, “Well, at least we made it.” We managed to find some water bottles, a nice treat after a mad dash between meetings. We chitchatted about the water, the sprawling creative campus and the new modernized presentation room.

The meeting finally got underway. The emcee stood at the front of the room on a small riser and addressed the crowd. They had wheeled in a digital piano and a stand mic. The host welcomed everyone and informed us that we were in for a special treat. A renowned guest had joined us today and would be talking to us about their career at Disney as a songwriter and musician. This special guest, he informed us, was a Disney legend and had worked directly with Walt Disney himself. There were some oohs and ahhs across the room as the announcer concluded, “Please join me in welcoming Richard Sherman to the stage.”

We began to clap. My new friend next to me stood up and started walking toward the front of the room. I was stunned! He turned around and looked at me and grinned. I’m pretty sure my face was red. All this time I hadn’t recognized that the friendly soul sitting next to me was none another than one of the most prolific composer-lyricists in the history of family entertainment, Richard Sherman. 

Richard took his seat at the keyboard and began telling us his story. He talked about his time working with Walt Disney. He told how he and his brother, Robert, had composed songs like “Chim Chim Cheree”, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “I Wanna Be Like You,” “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room”, “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Feed the Birds”, “Winnie the Pooh,” and of course, “It’s A Small World (After All).” He used the keyboard to tell the stories and punctuate each stage of his career with melody and rhyme. He sang to us. He taught us. He inspired us. He entertained us. Richard was simply amazing.

This past weekend, Richard composed his final outro. The narrative of his 95 years had reached its end. While his story may have ended, his songs never will. His words, his choruses and his melodies will live on forever. Like him, they sing to our souls. They teach us to smile, optimistically and cheerfully embrace the future, our work and each other. They entertain and delight us. Richard tickled the keys of the human spirit. He will be missed, but his words will continue across the planet for years to come. 

And finally, just a reminder, don’t hesitate to greet those you sit next to, even if you are late to the meeting. You never know who you might accidentally meet. But then again, I guess it does make sense, it is A Small World, after all.

“No matter what you do, give it everything you’ve got.” – Richard M. Sherman

Watch “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story” on Disney Plus: