A tradition begins
Singarama's debut was February 3, 1964, staged by the six Greek Clubs created to replace class distinctions. Club Chanté Singarama was the theme. When the competition was finished, the Gammas were proclaimed the winners. The Babbler noted that Coba Craig, Singarama director for the first year, "Was given an ovation in chapel Tuesday for his successful execution of another Lipscomb first."
In its second year, Singarama placed "no limitation on the size of any group" and each club was allowed "15 minutes for its three acts." The three acts for each show consisted of a men's group, a women's group and a mixed chorus.
Singarama history took place the year in which two different shows were staged. The year was 1966. The first show, for the school year of 1966, took place on April 22, and the second show, for 1967, was held November 11. The Babbler dated November 11, 1966, explains that "the decision to move Singarama from spring to fall was made because the spring quarter was so crowded."
In 1969, it was announced that there would be no props and no choreography ... "We are trying to get back to the original idea of Singarama - to present the actual quality of singing instead of trying to aid the show with elaborate sets." Al Jackson was the winning director as his group performed songs by George M. Cohan.
In 1970, Sharon Brumit began her successful three-year directing stint as her group Wild West won the competition.
Larry McCommas, then acting chairman of the department of music, was named faculty director of Singarama in 1971. He was the first in a long line of talented coordinators who have overseen this annual production. In 1971, the 18 social clubs were divided into four groups, and the Mary Poppins group directed by Brumit was declared the winner.
In 1972 independents (students who are not members of social clubs) participated in Singarama for the first time. McCommas remained the overall director. The theme revolved around children's fantasies. Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, Babes in Toyland and Snow White were chosen as individual group themes. Winston Harless's Snow White group walked away with the top award.
DeWight Lanham returned to the campus in 1973 and assumed overall responsibility for the annual event. Singarama 1973 witnessed the introduction of an independent group, making five shows in the competition. The theme centered on popular vocal groups and included such then familiar names the The Fifth Dimension, Ray Stevens, Simon and Garfunkle, the Carpenters, and the Beach Boys. Tony Phipps of the Ray Stevens group was the winning director.
Great American Composers Before 1950 was the 1974 theme as Lanham remained the coordinator. The group, directed by Phipps, performed songs by Irvin Berlin and won the competition. For the first time, Singarama went to two performances and lengthened each individual show to 25 minutes. The year 1974 also featured an original overture for Singarama written by Andy Clausen and Rick Tamble.
In 1975, Company's Coming, directed by Lee Milam and Marsha Burnette won the top prize.
Steve Deasy directed the 1976 show as the groups performed with the theme Great Decades In American Music. The decades so honored were the 1890s, the 1920s, the 1950s and the winning show, the 1960s, directed by Milam.
In 1977, other innovations were introduced, including a third performance and the decision to charge admission. That year Dennis Loyd became associated with Singarama, serving as co-director with Deasy. In the group competition Milam once again captured first-place with A Brand New Day.
In 1978 a fourth performance, on Saturday afternoon, was added as Singarama seemed to get bigger and better. The Cities theme provided active, fun-loving shows about Hollywood, Chicago, New York and London. The Hollywood group walked away with the honors, and for the fourth year in a row (a record still unbroken), Lee Milam was the director of the winning group.
Milam returned to the campus in 1979 to serve as a co-host for the activity that had contributed so much to his life as a Lipscomb student. "The seasons" provided a popular and successful theme that year, and Ronnie Rummage's Summer breezed to the top of the competition, sweeping all of the categories as well as the sweepstakes. An addition in 1979 was the presentation of individual awards for the excellence in Singarama. Affectionately dubbed "The Willards" in honor of then president Willard Collins, these prizes were distributed at a dinner a week after the show.
The show in 1980 had no overall theme, but the program notes pulled it together as Livin', Longin', Learnin' and Lovin'. The winning group impressed the judges with Main Street, U.S.A. Mike Perry was the winning director.
American Traditions was the theme in 1981 with the four groups producing shows on home, recreation, school and work. Joey Watson directed the winning group in The Old Schoolyard. For the first time, campus auditions were held to select the host and hostess. Kevin Arvin and Sherilyn Harless walked away with the honor.
In 1982, the Singarama theme was Going Places, and the four directions - North, South, East and West - were the places. Jeff Rice was the winning director as his South group built a show around the World's Fair, held that year in Knoxville.
Singarama celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1983, when John Balentine directed the winning group, Frontierland.
Believe In Music was the overall theme in the 1984 show as the four groups presented their versions of Love, Luck, Mystery and Fortune. Russ Gough's Luck won the sweepstakes award.
1985's show took the audience on a visit to the Coasts, Deserts, Mountains and Plains. For the second time in Singarama history, a show - Coasts, directed by Mark Hayes - swept all categories and won the sweepstakes award. A cast member, Karin Jackson, was presented her third Willard Award for "Best Female Vocalist." In 1985 Sarah Keith Gamble became Singarama's coordinator after serving as assistant coordinator for a number of years.
In 1986 the Singarama directors and coordinator selected Let Us Entertain You as the theme for the show. Kim Stansbury Whitaker was named winning director as her Radio show took the top honors.
Movin' Right Along, Singarama's theme in 1987, was illustrated by the groups' portrayal of four types of transportation. John Roberson's On The Right Track won the competition for the Train group.
Singarama ... An Anniversary Celebration was the theme for the show's 25th anniversary in 1988, as the four groups offered gifts of Diamonds, Gold, Pearl and Silver. John Roberson once again captured first-place with Diamonds in the Dust. A special feature of this anniversary year was the first appearance of four hosts and hostesses. Under the direction of Jerome Reed, Julie Fox, Terri Schott, Blake Parker and Lance Perry entertained the audience with songs from Singarama's history.
In 1989's In Living Color, the groups presented their interpretations of Blue, Green, Red and Yellow, as Joe Bohannon's Put On A Happy Face became only the third show in history to sweep all of the categories and also win the sweepstakes award.
The Initial Reaction theme in 1990 provided the opportunity for the groups to communicate their impressions of four well-known acronyms, IOU, SOS, TLC, and VIP, with David French's VIP taking the Sweepstakes Award.
1991's Cornerstones show was dedicated to an examination of four important foundations of our lives: Equality, Freedom, Honor and Truth. LeTisha Bassett directed the winning group in Honor Your Dreams. Jon Lawrence was featured as a host for the second time in 1991 and co-host Phil Parker contributed an original composition appropriately titled Cornerstones.
The Name of the Game was the theme in 1992 as the four groups interpreted the titles of four popular games, Clue, Monopoly, Risk and Trivial Pursuit. Tracie Jones' The Pursuit of a Lifetime captured first place.
We celebrated thirty years of Singarama in 1993 with the production of It's Showtime! Shane Hooper led the Comedy cast to victory.
Reading Between the Lines, the theme selected for 1994, centered around the titles of four popular magazines - Life, People, Success and Time. Jill Samuels made her second appearance as a hostess for the show as Keith Berry's Success won the judges' nod.
1995's Living In America show focused on four unique American cities ... Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. David Matthews directed the winning Washington as Donna White and Billy R. Davis served as the show’s executive director and producer.
Singarama '96 ... Now in Syndication! featured interpretations of the titles of four popular situation comedies - Different Strokes, Family Ties, Gimme A Break and What's Happening? Sarah Keith Gamble returned to coordinate the show in 1996 as D.J. Smith made his second appearance as a host and Rachel Turman, director of Family Ties, accepted the sweepstakes award for best show.
In 1997 These Are The Days! featured Past, Present, and Future with Cayce Metzgar's Past capturing first place. Shana Teel returned as a hostess for her second year.
In celebration of 35 years of Classic Singarama in 1998 we presented three popular theme of the past ... Romance, Adventure and Mystery. Andrea Spencer's Adventure captured first place and Phillip Duncan returned to host for a second time.
Amy Pike directed Let's Make A Deal to top honors in Singarama 1999's It's All Fun and Games.
Singarama 2000's All The World's A Stage provided opportunity for the interpretation of the title of three Shakespearean plays. Hollee Huston's As You Like It won the competition and Mandi Shannon appeared as hostess for her second year.
A Whole Lot of Shapin' Going On in Singarama 2001 took a fun look at the Circle, Square and Triangle. Emily Thompson's Hip to be Square was the judges' choice for the top honor.
In 2009 we returned to a newly-renovated Collins Alumni Auditorium to present Branded, which featured 3 popular marketing slogans Don't Leave Home Without It, The Best Part of Waking Up, and Can You Hear me Now? The Best Part of Waking Up, directed by Katie Callis, was declared the winning show.. Cody Dale Harris returned for her third stint as Singarama hostess!
Can I Quote You On That? in 2010 showcased a twist on three famous movie quotes: I'll Be Back, Tomorrow is Another Day, and You Can't Handle the Truth. Caroline Newhouse's group won the Sweepstakes Award with their presentation of I'll Be Back. For the first time in the show's history 8 Hosts and Hostesses took the stage: Mariel Bolton, Josh Britt, Zack Green, Carter Hamric, Mallory Haynes, Allison Lancaster, Carter Martin, and Joe Muchmore! We explored the concepts of Time, Temperature, and Distance in 2011's For Good Measure as Morgan Philley's cast captured first place.
In 2012 All Hands on Deck, a nautical tale directed by Morgan Mathis, took the Sweepstakes Award as Singarama 2012 featured a look at Air, Land, and Sea. Aaron Sain came on board to direct the Hosts and Hostess trio, which included a third appearance by talented Joe Muchmore.
In April of this year we celebrated the 50th year of Singarama with the production of Timeless ... remembering Yesterday, (directed by Maggie Clements); celebrating Today, (directed by David Grayson); and anticipating Forever, (directed by Corley Major). We were pleased to honor Coba Craig, who founded Singarama when he was a junior in college, and Dennis Loyd, Dean of Students, English professor, and beloved Singarama Coordinator in the 1970's and 80's. Aaron and Laurie Sain directed the performances of our talented Hosts and Hostesses, Kelsea Ballerini, Muriel Epling, Rainey Langford, Michael Oruma, Adam Sain, and McKenna Smith. Autumn Harper, Kathryn McKinley, and Erin Wood served as the student coordinators for this historic show. 2013 was a great year for Singarama, and at the conclusion of Saturday evening's show, David Grayson's Today group won the Sweepstakes Award after sweeping the 3 categories!
For fifty years now, springtime at Lipscomb has meant Singarama as more than 16,000 students have participated in the show. While it has provided a quality performance for university students, parents and high school guests throughout the years, it is impossible to measure on an individual basis the sense of accomplishment, the fun, and the friendships that can be attributed to this treasured tradition.
See Singarama pictures and history on the Lipscomb Singarama Facebook page (www.facebook.com/lipscombsingarama).
We hope you can join us for Singarama 2014 on April 3-5!