Written by Lawrence Welk
Originally appeared in a 4-page supplement for Christian Economics
When the newest member of our musical organization, young Mary Lou Metzger, steps into the spotlight to song "No, No, Nanette" on one of our recent weekly telecasts, it was more than just a regular production number. If you had been in the studio that evening, you would have seen why. Every other singer and peformer in our company was crowded into the wings, watching proudly as she sang, and they burst into delighted applause when she finished. Jim Hobson, our producer, George Cates, our musical director, and every member of the band were beaming broadly, too. So was I.

Mary Lou's performance that night was the culmination of the year-long training and encouragement she had received from every member of the group. Her triumph was our triumph, too. It was a dramatic demonstration of the effectiveness of our training and development program... a system which has worked remarkably well for us over the years. We have developed through our program such closeness and affection that, when our show was dropped by the ABC network after a 16 year run, it served only to bring us closer together. It provided the inspiration for us to move confidently ahead into the much wider field of syndicated television.

The men and women in our musical family have learned - through this unique work-program of ours - how to utilize their talents to the fullest. They give every ounce of themselves to every performance, and they back up their talent with solid character.
Mary Lou Metzger & Lawrence

The Bible says, "Give, and it shall be given unto you." This statement expresses a basic law of life - what is given out returns in kind. It is upon this precept that our entire training and economic program has been built. It is based primarly on the concept of sharing not only in the accepted economic sense, but also in the broader sense of sharing one's self, his talents, knowledge, his care and concern. I can best explain how our system works by using Mary Lou as an example, since her experience so closely parallels that of all of our performers.

A year ago, this pretty youngster came to audition for us. She was very young, just 17, and her voice had not been developed properly, but I recognized a basic quality immediately and I was impressed with her freshness and enthusiasm. Also, I realized after talking to her, that she came from a family which had given her sound moral training. We discussed her dreams of a musical career, and I finally told her she could work with us as an apprentice, appearing in group numbers and learning as much as she could from pratical experience. "But I can't promise you any solos," I told her. "We'll have to wait and see how things work out for you."

Mary Lou eagerly agreed, and she enrolled immediately in our training program. Jack Imel, our choreographer and assistant producer, began to work with her on stage techniques. He reported that she was naturally talented. Our arrangers Curt Ramsey, S.K. Grundy, and Joe Rizzo, along with musical director George Cates, worked to help her find her range and the type of songs she could do best. The wardrobe and makeup people also helped Mary Lou develop her own eye as to what looked best on her. I had her sing for our audience at the Palladium where I could watch her performance closely, and then I advised her on her technique and phrasing and the best way to present her songs.

The heart of our training program made itself felt most importantly in her relationship with the other girls on the show. Far from resenting her or feeling any professional jealousy, they undertook to show all the tricks of the trade. Her immediate predecessor on the show was Gail Farrell, helped her in every way possible. Gail showed her around the studio, introducing her to all the wonderful technical people backstage, chatting with her during lunch breaks, drawing her closer into the "family," just as Ralna English had done for Gail herself a few months earlier, and as Tanya Falan, Cissy King, Sandi and Salli and Norma Zimmer had done, in turn, as each one of them had done on the show.


We have deliberately cultivated this "family" concept in our organization. All of us understand that the better we work together, the better the show--and better it is for each one of us. The goal is always of paramount importance and, although sharing for that reason is simply a pratical neccesity, it tends to develop our spiritual sense of sharing also. The result is that the character traits of unselfishness and consideration of the other person are nutured and refined to a high degree, Within this framework of mutual consideration and friendliness, each of our members feels free to offer suggestions and criticisms, and each is recognized for what he is--a human being whose own essntial dignity is beyond value. As Mary Lou continued with her training, we began to put her in group numbers. As she gained poise and assurance, we assigned her one or two solo lines.

Everything came into focus a few months earlier when I was participating in a golf tournament in Phoenix and I received a phone call from Irving Berlin in New York. "Lawrence," he said, "there's a revival of 'No, No, Nanette' on Broadway right now and it's a tremendous hit. The music would be perfect for you. Make an album right away." When I got back to Los Angeles I called Randy Wood, my record producer only to find he had the score already. He was most anxious for me to make the album too! We went right to work.

I decided to see Mary Lou could handle the lead song of Nanette. She took the song and worked very hard at home. With the confidence and professional skill born of her months of training and encoragment, she came into the recording studio and sang the song exactly right! Her rendition in the album was such a hit that we were forced to release a single record. That year of concentration, training, development and self-discipline had paid off. Mary Lou was finally able to appear in a full-fledged production number on national television, singing with the sparkle for a nationwide audience. She had made the grade. It was a source of deep satisfaction to us all.