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Merrill Osmond shares a parable of his life in book 'Faith, Hope and Gravity'

By Nick Galieti

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, July 9 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Editors note: Merrill Osmond talks about the ups and downs of a life in the entertainment business and how his life was made into a parable by author Shirley Bahlmann. They discuss their book "Faith, Hope and Gravity," in an interview on “The Good Word” podcast.

Merrill Osmond has celebrated more than 50 years in the world of show business. Osmond, the lead voice of the Osmond family, is also an established solo artist, writer, producer, motivational speaker and philanthropist. He co-founded the Children’s Miracle Network, currently one of the largest children’s charities in the world that has raised more than $4 billion for children’s hospitals to date.

Osmond is the co-author of the novel, "Faith, Hope and Gravity," along with Shirley Bahlmann.

After serving as editor of her sixth-grade and high school newspaper, Bahlmann told the judges of the Miss Snow College Pageant that she would be a published author some day. After winning the crown, she met and married her husband, Robert Bahlmann. Her stacks of journals, road shows, plays and skits attest to the fact that she has been writing all her life. She now teaches writing classes to children and adults and has written more than 20 books in 10 years.

Q: Merrill, of all your professional accomplishments, is there one that stands out to you, and for what reason?

Osmond: It was probably the most engaging event. It was the producing of Ronald Reagan’s inaugural ceremonies, which caused me to go gray. That one and the actual selling of the "Donny and Marie Show."

Q: Outside music, you have spent a good portion of your time with philanthropic efforts and with motivational speaking; a lot of that has to do with helping people find success and happiness. How do you define that success in yourself and in others?

Osmond: Success to me is overcoming. All of us have challenges. I never chose my vocation, never had what you would call a normal childhood, and never really knew what a teenager was because we lived in a bubble. So when the bubble burst and we lost $70 million through embezzlement scams, every one of us had to go out into the world and find what we were as an individual. Overcoming little things here and there caused me to grow into the man I am, and I am hoping that people like me (laughs).

Q: You have accomplished so many things in your life, do you still have moments of excitement or euphoria from accomplishing something?

Osmond: I have been in the business for 54 years. A year ago, I was about to hang it up. The thing that is a challenge right now —and I will go ahead and announce it on this program — Jermaine Jackson of the Jacksons has gotten with me. The two of us are saying, “Hey, let's do a duet, maybe go to Vegas do some one off's,” and that's a challenge for me because that means I've gotta dance again, and scream, and do my gravel voice. But at the same time that is what we were gifted with.

Q: The main character of your story, "Faith, Hope and Gravity," a character named Liam, is a vehicle to share certain principles. What is Liam's story?

Osmond: First of all, Liam is me. Names have been changed to protect the innocent, but Liam takes you through a journey. All of the characters inside the story have a lot to do with challenges that I had. I've been bullied my whole life, inside the book you will see how those two bullies have become close friends of mine. But the book is hopefully one anyone can relate with in their own specific way.

Bahlmann: Anyone who reads this book can find meaning in it. Another (message) that Merrill wanted to tell was that we need to learn to accept people for the talents they have to offer whether we understand them or not.

Q: Our show is called "The Good Word," so we want to ask you to describe your book in one word.

Osmond: Depth

Bahlmann: Fascinating.

"Faith, Hope and Gravity" is available through LDS retailers ($15.99). The full interview can be heard on “The Good Word” podcast, hosted by Nick Galieti.

Nick Galieti is a writer, documentarian, freelance record producer and sound engineer. He is the host of a bi-weekly podcast for LDS writers, "The Good Word."

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