Like every college, my alma mater has traditions that bond the people who go there.
Things that might seem silly to everyone else.
Sing Song is one of those events.
And we like to come back to it because it reminds us of where we’ve been.
It’s a vocal competition between the classes and clubs on campus, interspersed with musical numbers by four to six individuals who audition for the role of host and hostess.
The groups competing choose a theme, write their own song – changing the lyrics of popular songs to fit the theme – then dress up in costumes and choreograph the whole thing to last no more than four minutes.
The first time I ever watched Sing Song was in February of 1979, right before my freshman year in college, and I was hooked.
I knew when tryouts for my Freshman class were posted that I had to be a part of that group.
Only I knew I’d never get in as a soprano or alto.
So I tried out on tenor.
And they took me.
Turns out they were really short on tenors.
We were light bulbs and Nelson Coates rigged up a costume that actually lit up when we flicked a switch in a battery pack that fit in the back of our black tights.
Yes, we looked ridiculous, but we sounded amazing and when that huge coliseum went black toward the end of our four minutes – and we all flicked the switch on our battery packs – 100 light bulbs lit up the stage. The crowd went wild as we swelled out, “Theeeeere’s a ‘base’ for us, a ‘lamp’ and ‘shade’ for us” from West Side Story.
And, yes, thank you, we won the class division.
Tomorrow night I’ll sit in the audience and watch new light bulbs perform. But at the end of the show, we’ll move across the aisles and link arms with the people on either side of us and sing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.” 5,000 voices in four part harmony. A cappella.
There’s nothing quite like that sound.
We like to come back to it because it reminds us of home.