ACU101 Any proper introduction to Abilene Christian University – the gist of our new ACU 101 feature in each issue – must include Sing Song. The brainchild of innovator Dr. Bob Hunter (’52), it was introduced as a campus-wide “Sing Song contest” designed to encourage student organization participation and demonstrate that ACU is “the Singing College.” The wildly popular event has been entertaining audiences and engaging students each February since 1957. The upcoming edition, featuring more than 1,500 students, will be the event’s 60th anniversary. Here’s what you need to know. 1969 The first major event in new Moody Coliseum is Sing Song. The audience is electrified by freshmen performing a “Wizard of Oz” act and introducing choreography by swinging their arms and marching in place. 1966 Student participation grows to near 800.
The first Sing Song is held Feb. 14, 1957, with Hunter as director, Lewis Fulks (’48) as technical director, William J. Teague (’52) as master of ceremonies and 22 vocal groups comprising 403 students. A crowd twice the capacity of 1,200-seat Sewell Auditorium shows up for free seating; half are turned away. Galaxy and the junior class are inaugural winners.
1962 Sing Song relocates to the 1,800-seat Abilene High School auditorium and sells tickets ($1) for the first time. They sell out in five hours, so dress rehearsal tickets (50 cents) are created to keep up with public demand.
1964 A second show is added to accommodate ticket demand.
1971 Sing Song is broadcast on local TV again, with Vonda Kay Van Dyke, Miss America 1965, as celebrity guest singer on Friday and Saturday nights. Mayor J.C. Hunter Jr. proclaims Feb. 19 as Sing Song Day in Abilene.
1970 The Saturday night show is broadcast live on KTXS-TV, featuring pop music star Pat Boone as celebrity host, along with his wife and four daughters (including future Grammy winner Debby Boone). Students vote to donate more then $11,000 in ticket proceeds to a Campus Beautification Project to enhance landscaping around new buildings such as the coliseum, campus center and library.
1976 Today’s three-show format is introduced: Friday night and twice on Saturday.
1975 In response to students disgruntled about a canceled concert, Students’ Association president Kelly Utsinger (’75) calls for a boycott of Sing Song. The university says if students choose not to participate, adjustments will be made in the show. They vote to participate, however, and perform to the largest audience in Sing Song history.
Published on Feb 26, 2016