91/11/2001: The Day That Changed America
A Song From the Heart
By Suzanne Freeman

Paulette Attie runs the scales on a piano while students at P.S. 1 in New York City loosen up their vocal chords. (Photo: Suzanne Freeman)

About Paulette Attie

Paulette won the Silver Globe Award by playing a French nightclub singer on TV's The Yanks Are Coming. Other TV credits include the part of Marshal Dobbs in One Life to Live, plus leading roles on General Hospital, Another World, All My Children, Sesame Street, and Mercy or Murder.

Paulette has performed on and off-Broadway. Her highly acclaimed one-woman show, About Time, opened off-Broadway in 1997.

She has played the leading female roles in musicals and operettas: My Fair Lady, Gypsy, Can-Can, The Merry Widow, La Vie Parisienne, and plays by Neil Simon, Tennessee Williams, and Noel Coward.

On her award-winning weekly radio show, "Paulette Attie's Musical Playbill" (on WNYC for two years), Paulette sang songs by America's best-loved songwriters, often accompanied by the composers themselves. Her legendary list of guests includes Lee Adams, Harold Arlen, Jerry Bock, Cy Coleman, "Yip" Harburg, Sheldon Harnick, Burton Lane, Cy Coleman, John Green,Dorothy Fields, Jimmy Mc Hugh, Arthur Schwartz, Mary Rodgers, Harold Rome, Charles Strouse, and Jule Styne. "The songwriter I most enjoyed talking with was Johnny Mercer," says Paulette. "If there ever was a person who could charm the birds out of the trees, it was Johnny." Paulette made two separate shows of her interview with Johnny Mercer and had the pleasure of seeing him on several occasions thereafter.

Of her over one thousand concerts, she has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Hollywood Bowl, Bruno Walter Auditorium, Westbury Music Fair and concert halls in Japan and South America.

In 1988, she became the first woman performer elected into the Friars Club.

She has sung in Washington D.C. for Presidents and Heads of State, including being chosen in 1998 to sing in Washington for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Statehood of Israel.

For information on Paulette Attie, and to hear a sound clip of her singing "United Are We," click here.
September 11 — Before Paulette Attie wrote her song, "United Are We," she wrote a poem about September 11, 2001.

"It was my immediate response to what was going on in the world," Paulette said. "That took care of me while I was watching all the horror on TV and could see all the courageous deeds. Then, I said to myself, I need to write something that will be meaningful for everybody. That's where the song came from."

When the award-winning songwriter and performer made her work public, she began to receive standing ovations, followed by some good suggestions.

"When I started singing it to people who are knowledgeable in the music business, they said, 'Paulette, this sounds like a wonderful children's song.' It sort of put a little bee in my bonnet," she told Scholastic News Online.

Her search for young voices led her to P.S. 1, a 107-year-old elementary school in the shadow of the World Trade Center. It was the closest school to Ground Zero that was still open for business.

The 650 students of P.S. 1 have rehearsed and performed the piece several times over the last year. They were featured on New York 1, a local cable-news program in New York City, and will soon be the stars of their own music video.

But on September 11, 2002, they staged their own tribute to the victims of 9/11. No media cameras were allowed on school grounds. The short ceremony, which included a tree planting and the reading of a poem, was for the students, their parents, and teachers only.

"It was fabulous," said principal Maguerite Straus. "The kids were happy to be a part of it. They knew it was very special."

The entire school met in the outdoor yard, which is where they were when the first plane hit one year ago.

"It was primary day, and our school was being used for voting," Maguerite said. "We were ready to start the day with the Pledge of Allegiance when the first plane hit."

P.S. 1 is the oldest school in the city. It began as an immigrant school before the city even had a board of education. According to Straus, 80 percent of the students are Asian, about 11 percent Hispanic, and 8 percent African-American.

The school's ethnic diversity makes it a perfect venue for her song, Paulette said.

"My feeling of being an American is very strong," she said. " The whole idea of embracing everyone — everyone. That's why the word united is so important. For me it was important to write something that was uplifting for others, something that talked about loving one another, and caring for one another, and the unity of all mankind."

United Are We
Lyrics by Paulette Attie

Right here's the place to be, the time for you and me,
Enjoy sweet harmony because united are we.
Our heroes heard the call, saw their brothers fall,
Still they gave their all, that's united are we.

Don't need to be a king, don't need a diamond ring,
We've got everything because united are we.
And through the nation wide, we share the New York pride,
We stand side by side, because united are we.

The reason is simple, it's easy as can be,
When we love one another, united are we.
If I'm a part of you, then you're a part of me,
When we give to each other, we're happy and free.

Don't need remote control, high-techie rigmarole,
Switch on and see the whole, united are we.
And when we're upped and downed, on a merry-go-round,
We can still rebound, turn it around,
We're not lost; we're found because united are we,
Let the words resound: United Are We.

United are we, united are we,
The design is grand, that's the way it was planned,
Let's give ourselves a hand,
Because united are, united are, united are WE!