“The man with a plan.” That’s how classmates refer to senior family studies major from Plano, Nick Tatum. With the senior class’ win last Saturday, he is now “The man with four Sing Song golds.”
However, before ACU, Nick Tatum had never attended, much less heard of Sing Song.
Tatum began his freshman year as a music major, but quickly changed to family studies. When the opportunity to interview for class director came around, Tatum found Sing Song was a way he could still be involved with music.
“I did some research and realized that this was something I would enjoy doing,” he said. “I got some friends together to interview with the Sing Song co-chairs, and the rest is history.”
In February 2010, the freshman class donned redcoats as the British Royal Guard, seen as the underdogs then. Even then, the Sing Song novices were confident in their act. Tatum said many of his fellow freshman participants would say practices were intense.
“Being new to the Sing Song scene,” he said, “I wanted to make sure that our act was perfect in order to do well in the competition.”
And then the class of 2013 won. Their victory was the first time a freshman class had won overall since 2006.
But the winning did not end.
The next year, the class won again. And then won again, twice more.
Under Tatum’s direction, the class raked in a trophy count of four consecutive Sing Song victories, dressed as Brits, cupids, Pharaohs and the Oz gang.
Last Saturday, the senior class became only the third class in ACU history to sweep all four years.
While every year proved a winning feat, for Tatum, the Sing Song offseason was short-lived.
“Each year, I started planning the acts in full earlier and earlier,” he said. “I would have a plan for the next year only a few weeks after the previous Sing Song has finished.”
Executing a quality act is developed over a long period of time, Tatum said. After Sing Song details had been set, he would take a few days at the beginning of winter break to arrange the music for each of the class acts.
Even with early preparation, the winnings were no walk in the park.
“Every night was a hard, long practice night,” said Tatum.
On top of directing the Senior Class, he also served as the assistant director for Trojans this year.
“I was up till at least 3 a.m. for most of Sing Song,” he said. “The last two weeks of Sing Song were particularly rough this year.”
Saturday night before the curtain rose, Tatum gathered the senior group one last time to pray, thanking God for the four-year blessing of performing with the class.
“It was little things like that that made being in his group so worthwhile, even more than the trophies and awards,” McGaha said.
But a fourth trophy won later that evening did not hurt.
Tatum said the fourth and final win that night was surreal.
“I couldn’t believe it was finally over,” he said. “I was mostly pumped that the pressure was finally going to be lifted, but I was also sentimental about participating one last time as an undergraduate student.”
A four-time championship felt like justification for the many, long hours spent in singing, choreography, costume-constructing, set-building, said Elle Whitaker, senior management major from Plano.
“Having won all four years makes Sing Song into more than just a good memory, it turns the competition into a bonding experience that I can’t put into words but will never forget,” she said.
Even with all his hard work, Tatum makes it known the seniors’ success was not a single-handed task.
“There is no way that a Sing-Song director can be successful without some solid, capable assistant directors,” he said. “Our acts have been successful because of the hard work these friends have done over the past four years.”
Whitaker acted as the choreographer for the class acts since freshman year, attending meetings, helping with song selection, developing themes and “acted as the devil’s advocate for all of Nick’s crazy and brilliant ideas,” she said. “Moses and the plagues? No questioning and no worry. We knew Nick could show us how to pull it off. Recreate an entire film? No fear, Nick knows us well enough to help us make it work.”
The group members’ confidence in their director gave Tatum’s creativity full reign in creating the routines.
“If we hadn’t had him as a director all four years, I don’t know if we would have found someone willing to take the same risks and, in turn, create some of the shows to the same level as we did,” McGaha said.
Even with the promise of a sweep, Tatum admits moments of wanting to switch gears by trying something else.
“I’ve always wanted to be a Sing Song host, and even considered trying to direct the Trojan act during my Junior or Senior year,” he said. “But in the end, I decided to stick with our class acts because of the great experience I knew that I would have.”
His commitment to the class act was partially what led to the group’s cohesion, Whitaker said.
“One of the best parts of class sing song over the years has been the familiarity and feeling of coming home that comes with the act,” she said. “That community has been fostered due in large part because of Nick and his consistency as a director.”
“He has an uncanny ability to bring the best out of every person in the room,” Marshall said. “Whether he is challenging you to have better diction or keeping you trying to keep you humble, he is not only trying to help you be a better singer or performer, he is trying to help you be a better person.”
Under the conducting garb of Queen Elizabeth, cupid, Moses, The Wicked Witch and then Glenda, Tatum’s four-year award-winning run as Sing Song director has been an enriching opportunity.
“Nothing is more rewarding than utilizing your God-given talents to take a group of independent people and use their skills to produce something memorable and outstanding,” he said.
Nick Tatum’s favorite act of the senior streak successes? The junior act of Moses and The plagues.
“What beats parting the Red Sea?”
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