A Song for Juliette
In August of 1997, the beginning stages of Girl Scouts Greatest Hits series, (called Melinda Caroll Music here) I was contemplating classic Girl Scout songs for the first album and looking in particular for one about Juliette Low, founder of Girl Scouts of the USA. My dear friend, Joyce Richards, Executive Director of Girl Scouts of Hawai’i at that time, was visiting me at my home on the Big Island of Hawai’i one night. I mentioned to her that I was having trouble finding a song about Juliette and was thinking about writing one myself. Both Joyce and I had read Lady from Savannah, and another biography about her life and we talked that night of Juliette’s extraordinary accomplishments and what a brave woman she had to be in her day and time. We felt that a song should be directed to the younger Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts so that Juliette would become a familiar name to them.
I went to sleep that night after playing around on my guitar a little, not really getting any fresh ideas. At about 2:00 am I awoke with a melody and lyric playing in my head. As is my habit, I grabbed my hand recorder on the bed stand and sleepily sang what I was hearing into the device. I then rolled over and went back to sleep.
The next morning, bright and early, I took my recorder into the kitchen to listen to what I had taped. On the recording, I had sung in a lullaby style these words:
“Juliette of the vesper plain, every Girl Scout knows your name.
Your light shines through the shadows of the cold dark night.
Juliette, our guiding star, shining down from where you are
For every girl who follows in the stardust of your dreams.”
The melody was sweet, and the words seemed appropriate, but I truly had no idea what a ‘vesper plain’ was, other than in a Catholic prayer context. I asked Joyce if she knew and she also thought it to be a prayer of some sort. This was before Google, so we began a hunt for a dictionary throughout the house. After a long search, we finally found one and there in the first definition was this:
“Ves-per (ves’-per) n. The evening star, Venus. The first star at sunset over the western plain, often used by navigators to set or chart their course.”
We both got full body “chicken skin” as we say in Hawai’i (or goose bumps if you live on the mainland), for we could feel this was a most befitting description of our mentor, Juliette. She was indeed a guiding light, an inspiration to Girl Scouts and Girl Guides everywhere!
And for just a split second, we even imagined Juliette smiling down at our delight and surprise and took it as a sign to complete the song and the album. The first in a long series of recorded music for Girl Scouts that captures our tradition of singing together.
And then things started to get interesting.
The songwriting took place in October of 1997, and in November of that same year, after I'd completed the basic tracks and vocals of the new song recording, Joyce had the great idea to send a copy of it to another friend of ours, NASA Astronaut and scientist, Dr. Tammy Jernigan. Tammy had been assigned to a mission on board the Columbia Shuttle that was scheduled to be launched that same month.
Tammy listened to the song and asked permission to take a copy up on her flight. Permission was given through all the appropriate channels and on Thursday, November 20, 1997, at 9:45 pm Hawai’i time, mission control came online and announced, Columbia, Houston as you get ready for your sleep period, we’ve got some special music for you to listen to, especially Tammy. The song, Juliette, was then played by mission control, who beamed it up to the space shuttle Columbia, while at the same time broadcasting it to every satellite that received their signal around the planet earth. The song could be heard by millions of people who were tuned in, following the shuttle.
Joyce and I breathlessly listened from the University of Hawai’i’s main computer center, barely able to take in the historical significance of what was transpiring before us. We concluded that Juliette, herself, had arranged the entire production! We could not have imagined a more fitting honor for our beloved Founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA, than to have the debut of her signature song heard by the whole world, all at once! This was definitely Juliette’s style, only she would have probably been up in the spaceship herself!
Tammy’s closing words were, “On behalf of Girl Scouts of the USA, past, present and future, Thank you for honoring Girl Scouts.“ Ground control responded, “…for Girl Scouts around the world.”