Osmonds move full speed ahead on Youth Pioneer Pageant
Published: April 23, 2012 11:26AM
Updated: April 23, 2012 11:26AM
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File photo by Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Justin, Merrill and Shane Osmond will be producing the inaugural Youth Pioneer Pageant in West Jordan around Pioneer Day weekend.

George Virl Osmond, Jr. and Tom Osmond. the two oldest brothers of Utah's most famous performing family, were born deaf.

In the late 1950s, they watched their younger brothers Alan, Merrill, Jay and Donny sing. On one occasion, Tom told his mother Olive that he wished Virl and Tom "had some talent."

The next day, Olive enrolled Tom and Virl in a dance class, becoming the first boys in a class of 14 girls.

The determination to not have her older sons feel deficient in any way led to the future creation of the Olive Osmond Perpetual Hearing Fund, which will receive the proceeds from the inaugural Youth Pioneer Pageant at the West Jordan Arena on Pioneer Day weekend.

Merrill and his sons Justin and Shane Osmond held a press conference Friday afternoon to announce more details about the pageant, which will be held on four nights this summer: July 20, 21, 23 and 24.

"Children may have hearing loss, but hearing loss doesn't have them," said Justin, who was also born deaf.

Proceeds from the pageant, Justin explained, will help at least 10 more children receive hearing aids while also reminding the rest of the community of the sacrifices of not only Mormon pioneers but other pioneers who made Utah what it is today.

Besides introducing the many sponsors of the event, the Osmonds at the press conference announced that tickets for the events went on sale Friday at 4 p.m. at all SmithsTix outlets, ranging from $10 to $15.

The Osmond family came out in force at the conference, with Virl making a relatively rare public appearance to speak about hearing loss and the pageant, as well as Nathan Osmond (son of Alan) delivering an emotional, warm rendition of a song he wrote about hearing loss called "Music To Your Ears."

And despite being in England for an Osmonds Brothers tour that includes 50 shows in 60 days, Merill spoke to the crowd through Skype to thank them for supporting the pageant and the cause.

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune on Thursday, Merrill said that the pageant has a "sense of destiny" about it, with the idea for the pageant coming to him in a dream. He wrote the majority of the program in a day and a half. "Nothing in my history has ever come faster than this pageant," he said.

As an executive producer for the Stadium of Fire, Merrill said that he wanted to create a similar community event -- complete with a fireworks show what will show the audience "something they have never seen before -- around Pioneer Day to raise awareness about both the Olive Osmond Perpetual Hearing Fund and a common history that Utahns share. He said he believed Pioneer Day had never gotten the attention it has deserved. That is about to change, he added.

"It sounds that the community as a whole is coming out to support this," he said.

Note: The Salt Lake Tribune is a sponsor of the event.