In appreciation of Tamara Kline’s fantastic, forgotten Winter Olympics theme

(Getty Photographs)

For a lot of the previous three many years, the sound of the Olympics has belonged to celebrity composer John Williams, whose fanfares and melodies have turn out to be a ubiquitous presence embedded within the DNA of worldwide competitors.

However for six years within the Nineteen Nineties, the sound of athletic glory additionally belonged to Tamara Kline.

Again when CBS held broadcast rights for the Winter Video games — 1992, 1994 and 1998 — it was Kline, then a largely unknown composer for tv commercials, who offered the Olympic soundtrack that crammed dwelling rooms and have become a nightly earworm because it anchored CBS’ protection.

Her theme was a hovering, uplifting piece that resonated in the best way valiant sports anthems often do — a tune you possibly can’t escape, immediately recognizable, immanently hummable, and the type of factor you hear in your head whenever you accomplish one thing particular.

However after CBS concluded its last Olympic broadcast on Feb. 22, 1998, the theme vanished into the ether, turning into a principally forgotten footnote within the Olympics’ musical legacy.

Regardless of its relative obscurity, Kline’s Olympic theme is noteworthy, not just for its high quality and uniqueness but in addition the seemingly random method by which a nearly unknown composer landed such a serious task.

Underrated, underneath-mentioned and nonetheless unknown to many, Kline’s theme nobly did its half because the musical heartbeat that drove a big chunk of the ‘90s Olympic expertise in the USA.

That is the story of the way it occurred.


Kline’s journey to her personal model of Olympic glory began in late 1991 when a colleague talked about that CBS was in search of an Olympic theme for its protection of the 1992 Winter Video games in Albertville, France.

Kline was composing music for commercials on the time, and although she had some nationwide spots — AT&T, Burger King and FedEx amongst them — she wasn’t an enormous identify within the business. CBS had already invited many composers, together with a couple of outstanding ones, to submit demos for consideration, however Kline felt drawn to the task.

“They didn’t know me, so I referred to as and requested if I might submit a demo,” she advised Sporting Information. “It appeared like a one in one million alternative, however I undoubtedly needed to throw my hat into the ring.”

The community needed a memorable theme that might be molded into totally different types and orchestrations, and that might be tailored to no matter temper the printed referred to as for. Additionally they needed one thing grand and heroic, however wholly unique. In different phrases, they didn’t need a John Williams knockoff.

“They needed to attempt one thing distinctive,” Kline stated, recalling how the community’s unique fax requested for a theme that might illicit a “huge panorama of snow-coated mountains.”

“They [also] needed a memorable melody that might seize the emotional dichotomy of the Olympics: the glory and the humility, the greatness and graciousness.”

So Kline set to work in her house studio, working up a synth mockup of an orchestral theme that she felt matched CBS’ wishes. She was particularly impressed by the thought of individuals striving for his or her greatest, dealing with their limitations and overcoming them.

The theme got here to thoughts virtually instantly — a melody that appears to embody the thought of reaching larger, then greater nonetheless.

“I genuinely related to all of the feelings [CBS] described,” Kline stated. “I stood in my yard and appeared out into the canyons. Truthfully, it was as if the theme wrote itself.”

‘I used to be shocked’

She submitted the demo, one of about 200 that CBS acquired. Months handed, and she or he assumed CBS had already employed one other composer. Then she received a name from late CBS producer Doug Towey, the person who later commissioned the community’s well-known NCAA basketball theme, who informed Kline her theme had been chosen.

“I used to be shocked,” she stated. “I assumed one of my associates was enjoying a joke on me. I used to be ecstatic.”

From there, it was a whirlwind of exercise over a brief interval. Kline and a workforce of arrangers had roughly two weeks to provide you with about 60 variations of her theme — a pop model, a conventional orchestral model, a laid-again model, a 5-second bumper, a ten-second bumper, a 30-second presentation, a 60-second take, a 2 ½ minute model, and so forth — earlier than heading to England to report with the London Symphony Orchestra.

“We have been nonetheless ending some of the preparations on the journey to London,” Kline stated.

CBS used the theme in some commercials to advertise the upcoming video games in Albertville, nevertheless it wasn’t till Feb. eight, 1992, that Kline’s music had its nationwide debut.

TamaraKline1992-TK-FTR-021118.jpgTamara Kline poses in the course of the recording periods with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1991. (Photograph courtesy of Tamara Kline)

‘It made me smile each time’

The suggestions was overwhelmingly constructive, each from CBS and Kline’s colleagues. For a composer whose music was often competing with dialogue and sound results in commercials, having her theme entrance and middle earlier than a nationwide viewers was a singular expertise.

“To listen to it on tv, rhythmically reduce to Olympic skiers and skaters, or with the gorgeous CBS graphics, was completely thrilling,” Kline stated. “It made me smile each time. And to listen to all of it day, each day, for sixteen days in a row, was fairly surreal.”

Certainly, Kline’s theme was a continuing presence. For these two weeks in 1992, then once more in 1994 and once more in 1998, she had arguably probably the most-heard tune in america.

However whilst viewers hummed the theme in the course of the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Kline’s anthem was already on its means out. Earlier than CBS might safe one other Winter Olympics, earlier than the theme might additional ingrain itself in America’s conscience, NBC stunned everybody in 1995 with a serious profitable bid for the 2002 Winter Video games in Salt Lake Metropolis. CBS’ time as an Olympics host was over — and so was Kline’s time because the maestro.

She hoped that CBS would discover one other use for the theme, or maybe launch the music commercially on CD, however neither occurred. Nor did her theme’s prominence result in different composing assignments, doubtless as a result of it wasn’t precisely a “rating” and wouldn’t have attracted a lot consideration within the business and TV/movie scoring worlds.  

Nonetheless, almost 20 years after its strains final wafted throughout America, Kline’s theme has a cult-like following amongst followers of movie and tv music, and, judging by numerous message board posts by means of the years, stays a Holy Grail recording for some.

‘A gold medal for me’

Followers have written to her to ask a few potential CD or digital launch, however the possibilities of that taking place are slim. Even Kline doesn’t have the recordings, aside from a number of of the shorter renditions. However even when she did, she co-owns the music with CBS, so any correct launch must be labored out between them.

“I introduced it up a number of occasions through the years, however CBS wasn’t actually ,” she stated. “They in all probability didn’t assume it might’ve generated a lot cash.”

However understanding that her theme nonetheless resonates, albeit in small circles, 20 years after it left the airwaves is its personal variety of reward.

“I’m stunned and delighted,” she stated. “It means a lot to me.”

Although she nonetheless sometimes writes music and performs, Kline left the music enterprise within the early 2000s after the business’s tradition and panorama started to shift. Budding software program and different know-how allowed nearly anybody to be thought-about a composer, which meant the quantity of competitors proliferated. In the meantime, music budgets for commercials, TV exhibits and movies began to shrink. Add all of it up and it was time to attempt one thing new.

“I really feel extremely blessed to have had such a wealthy and fantastic profession within the music enterprise. I look again on these days with awe and gratitude,” she stated. “However when music budgets and residuals began getting smaller, and I began getting older, I knew I wanted to make a change.”

Kline went again to high school to review medical psychology and now works as a licensed therapist in Beverly Hills — a brand new life that’s worlds away from the one by which she landed that plum task in late 1991.

However don’t assume for a minute that she doesn’t nonetheless treasure her Olympic expertise, even with out album gross sales and fame. Being chosen for an task that was beforehand given to an All-Star composer like Williams was and is a real honor, Kline stated.

“It’s a gold medal for me,” she stated. “That’s for positive.”