‘ALL-ONE’ soap aside, and sudsy philosophy notwithstanding, Dr. Emmanuel Bronner emerged this month from beyond the grave with an appropriately nostalgic series of ruminations released on a vinyl LP.
Or as the publicity department said:
“‘Sisters & Brothers’ is a long-play record that features original recordings of Dr. Emanuel Bronner—visionary, soapmaker, grandfather and founder of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. Recorded between 1970 and 1995, on a variety of home-recording devices, the newly re-mastered tracks reveal poignant, inspiring monologue of Emanuel Bronner’s personal contemplation of the All-One philosophy, and its potential to unite humankind across Spaceship Earth.”
Yeah, like they said. He said…
Rolled out with much fanfare at San Diego Little Italy’s’ trendy/chic Music Box, and representing the Escondido soap makers legacy soap and free trade organic Dr. Bronner’s ALL-ONE Soap company now based in Vista, the spoken words of the great founder who died 20 years ago rises like a phoenix again.
“This is Emanuel Bronner’s project,” said Darwin Westich, who listened to more than 100 hours of Bronner’s recordings while editing this LP. “There were days when I wondered, ‘What is Emanuel trying to tell me today?’
Still family-owned and run by his grandchildren and other family members, Dr. Bronner’s honors its founder’s vision by continuing to make socially and environmentally responsible products of the highest quality, and by dedicating profits to help make a better world.
The company has grown from $4 million in annual revenue in 1998 to over $100 million in 2016. The vinyl LP is a tribute to the legacy of the company’s founder.
Sisters & Brothers contains 16 tracks. A limited edition pressing of 1,000 copies will be available through the launch event and for purchase on the company’s website starting Jan. 25, 2017. Sisters & Brothers will also be available to stream online, and to purchase digitally at Bandcamp.com.
All proceeds from sales of the album will benefit the non-profit organization Jail Guitar Doors, an international non-profit founded by Billy Bragg, Wayne Kramer, and Margaret Saadi Kramer in 2009. The organization provides prisoners with instruments and access to music education and programming while behind bars to help rehabilitate and empower prisoners serving their time.
The Sisters & Brothers LP was created in concert with Dr. Bronner’s 2016 All-One Report. The report was designed to be an insert similar to liner notes for the album, printed in the form of a large 12″ by 12″ full color booklet that folds into a gigantic poster inspired by The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album artwork.
The report also is available in digital format on the company’s website. It includes a timeline detailing the progress and achievements made in 2015 across the broad range of issues Dr. Bronner’s supports, and insight to the brand’s growth worldwide.
It shares sales data, internal company metrics, revenue growth, fair trade supply chain impact, estimated environmental footprint, a complete list of 2015 social contributions, and much more.
To view the second annual All-One Report, visit:
Bronner may be gone now, but nowhere near forgotten given the hundreds upon hundreds of Web pages devoted to his memory.
These pages are devoted to the memory of a man and his soap.
Not to mention Bronner’s magical soap box—-the one that spans what he called “Spaceship Earth” with “The Moral ABC, introduced by Kipling’s ‘If’ & Soapmaker Bronner.”
“For we’re ALL-ONE OR NONE!” thunders a key passage from Bronner’s Moral ABCs. “ALL-ONE! ALL-ONE! ALL-ONE!”
Bronner was a giant among all-natural soapmakers when he died at age 89 in 1997 after decades of building the leading all-natural soapmaker in the nation as well as creating a personal mystique that continues to inform and astound.
He was also a newer-than-New Age visionary, an early advocate of organic products whose dense and sometimes baffling gospel of Judeo-Christian-humanist ideals has endured.
Once secreted away in an obscure industrial section of Escondido, now based at Vista, the all-natural soap company that Bronner made after a career as a chemist for more traditional soapmakers now has passed to a second and third generation of family members.
Whether read or heard, Bronner’s impassioned words can be hard to follow. Yet scholars who have absorbed his complete testament say it is a unique synthesis of age-old wisdom.
“It’s eclectic and he’s borrowing from various things,” said Roger Chapman, a history professor at Florida’s Palm Beach Atlantic University. “I think it’s perfect for the post-modern period we are living in.”
And perfect, some believe, for an LP.
“This project turned out to be a lot bigger than we thought it would be,” said Michael Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner’s All-One!, the Vista company his grandfather founded.
“This is timeless.”
Fleeing the Holocaust
Born to an Orthodox Jewish soapmaking family in Heilbron, Germany, in 1908, Bronner became alarmed by the early ravings of the Nazi Party and came to the United States in 1929. Other family members failed to follow that move and perished in the Holocaust.
“He came from an Orthodox soapmaking family and kind of rebelled against Orthodoxy,” David Bronner said.
Bronner found himself in Los Angeles where he married a Catholic hotel maid which shook up his family and prompted “his search to prove to his father and the world that we are all one people,” Ralph Bronner said.
In a 1983 Times Advocate article cited by an obituary published in the North County Times when E.H. Bronner died in March 1997, he quoted German philosopher Johann Goethe to explain his life: “Whoever wants to work greatly on this Earth must apply himself with such a concentration of all his forces that appear to idle spectators as insane.”
Bronner wasn’t a doctor, really. But he played one in the soapmaking world. Everybody called him doctor which was a title he said he earned through years as a soap-making master which was the German equivalent of a doctorate in chemistry.
But Bronner made his way through the world working as a chemist for the Los Angeles-based soapmaker that today continues to manufacture the soap on a contract basis. Living in a Los Angeles tenement hotel in the 1950s, he started bottling his specially formulated soaps.
From there, Bronner hit the natural food markets during a time before there really were many. And in the turbulent 1960s, many in the counterculture —- despite claims that hippies never washed —- adopted the soap because of its many cleansing and environmentally correct properties.