Reading Rainbow - Johnny Kemp theme (lost opening sequence for PBS children's TV series; 1999)
|The Reading Rainbow title card from 1999-2006.|
Reading Rainbow was a children's TV show that ran on PBS from 1983-2006, with reruns shown until 2009. It encouraged reading through celebrity read-throughs of stories, and kids reviewing books with a similar theme, in segments tied together with host LeVar Burton visiting relevant places. The Reading Rainbow theme song was composed by Steve Horelick, Dennis Neil Kleinman, and Janet Weir, and has received several singers over the years.
Reading Rainbow episodes produced from 1983-1999 began with Tina Fabrique singing, over an opening that combined live-action footage with hand-drawn animation. In 1999, the opening underwent a complete overhaul. Now, it combined live-action with computer animation, and integrated clips from old episodes. The theme song received a new rendition, sung by Johnny Kemp. An instrumental of this version of the song played over the end credits. For consistency's sake, PBS attached these to reruns of past installments.
The Reading Rainbow theme song and opening underwent some more changes before the show ended. Chaka Khan recorded a new version of the song, and the visuals experienced some tweaks. The "butterfly in the sky" mentioned in the lyrics finally disappeared, making the "reading rainbow" appear to materialize by itself. LeVar also received more screentime, at the expense of a computer-animated dragon. This opening, and corresponding end credits music, accompanied all Reading Rainbow episodes, until PBS finally stopped airing the program.
The latest prints of Reading Rainbow, for DVD and digital distribution, use Chaka Khan's rendition of the theme song. Tina Fabrique's rendition remains viewable on Reading Rainbow VHS tapes released before 1999, and on video recordings from the era. Unfortunately, since PBS did not use Johnny Kemp's rendition for very long, it does not seem to appear on any of the show's home media releases. Evidence on its existence also seemed rather scarce for several years, coming mostly from the recollections of people who happened to watch Reading Rainbow at this time -- but a recording from this time has yet to turn up online. This Wiki identified Kemp as the singer via email correspondence with Steve Horelick.