‘Sing out strong’: Fall River honors native son ‘Sesame Street’ composer Joe Raposo

Aug 4, 2022 | Arts & Culture

FALL RIVER — In the Heritage State Park Visitors Center theater, an audience from children to seniors were watching clips from “Sesame Street” and “The Great Muppet Caper” — but no matter their age, everyone was a kid again, lulled back to childhood by the music of Fall River native Joe Raposo.

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation, the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture and the city of Fall River teamed up on Wednesday to honor the life and work of Raposo, who wrote thousands of deceptively simple musical compositions for “Sesame Street,” including its iconic theme, “C is for Cookie,” “Everybody Sleeps,” and the wistful “Little Things.”

The event included a screening of an hourlong documentary, “Sing! Sesame Street Remembers Joe Raposo and His Music,” focusing on what made Raposo’s work special, and a proclamation by Mayor Paul Coogan honoring the day as “Joe Raposo Day.”

“The brilliance of Joe Raposo as a composer, songwriter and as a singer and a lyricist brought extreme pride in the city of Fall River,” Coogan said.

From North Main Street to Sesame Street

Raposo died at 51 of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 1989. Accepting the proclamation and a key to the city on behalf of Raposo’s family was his son, Nick Raposo — himself a writer for children’s television including “Arthur,” and the steward of his father’s musical legacy. He heads the Joe Raposo Music Group, managing the catalog of his father’s music and overseeing licensing deals for the “Sesame Street March” and over 3,000 other songs his father wrote over his career.

“It means so much to us that his music now, even 35 years after his death, still means so much to America’s children and to the people of Fall River,” Nick Raposo said. “He grew up here. He lived here. It meant so much to be here.”

Joe Raposo was the only child of Azorean immigrants, living on North Main Street. He was also a prodigy who was helping to teach music lessons at his father’s Raposo Music School by the time he was 5 years old, Nick said, and a professional musician by 18. When he graduated from B.M.C. Durfee High School in 1954, Raposo went on to Harvard University, then to the École Normale de Musique de Paris, and from there to “Sesame Street” and show business history.

Raposo spent the early part of the 1970s and part of the 1980s as the show’s composer, recording and often singing songs for 130 episodes of TV a season, with dozens of songs per episode. Raposo wrote in every genre of music, mixing sophisticated, jazz-inflected arrangements in a way that children were still able to grasp. Some of Raposo’s songs, like “Sing” and “Bein’ Green,” became staples of the great American songbook and were re-recorded by artists like The Carpenters, Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra.

Read more about the legacy of Joe Raposo here: https://www.heraldnews.com/story/news/local/2022/08/04/fall-river-honors-sesame-street-composer-joe-raposo-day/10232870002/?a=a&utm_source=heraldnews-DailyBriefing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_briefing_greeting&utm_term=list_article_headline&utm_content=NHER-MASSACHUSETTS-FALLRIVER-NLETTER65