Samford’s campus, by all accounts, seems unassuming upon first entry: classic architecture, remarkable natural scenery, and a fairly modest student population. However, in January, campus culture begins to change. A widespread metamorphosis permeates every social group and major: nursing students become train conductors, independent guys become suave greasers, and journalism majors help produce an event viewed by over 60,000 people. What is this uniting force, this event of monstrous proportions that unites the Greek and the independent, the jock and the nerd, the tall and the small? Step Sing.
While I could write an article on the ins and outs of Step Sing, from the logistics of the production to where it started, I will choose instead to take a moment and bask in the glory of Samford’s greatest and longest-standing tradition. Notice the language there. Not one of our greatest traditions, the greatest tradition.
Step Sing being the most popular student tradition is due to various factors. As a man primarily focused on prose involving the world of sports, I am not naïve about the fact that Samford remains a big fish in a small pond. Yes, our basketball team is spectacular, and our women’s soccer team has a run of unprecedented dominance. The 11 calendar year conference championships from a year ago are unreal, but we’re not competing for national titles like Alabama or Duke normally would. So, what we happened to get fired up for is a group of 80 or so students performing a highly choreographed and vocalized show on a grid-like formation. Craziness? Nope, that’s just who we are.
Tradition plays a massive role in Step Sing’s success. If Step Sing had started in 2007, I don’t think it would have the momentum it has today. The fact that Step Sing as we know it has been running for 74 years is a testament to its enduring charm and unique spirit. Reader, please recognize that what the students who participate in Step Sing do, whether on stage or behind the scenes, is beyond abnormal. That college students can form a complete show in about three weeks is a pace that rivals those on Broadway. Sure, the talent level between NYC and Birmingham may be vast, but I’d pick a Step Sing show like Pi Kappa Phi’s Rats or Sophomore Girls’ Night Guards over Kinky Boots or Cats every time.
Finally, the creativity of Step Sing blows me away every year. The Step Sing Committee, while fantastic at maintaining the traditions of Step Sing and putting on a great production every year, is highly restrictive. Any songs with explicit content, or even those that are suggestive, cannot be used in a production. Furthermore, if a song has been used by a show in the last 5-10 years, it is off the table. I have my complaints with the Step Sing Committee, but every year, directors and committees for every show creatively work around this obstacle. Sure, some Step Sing shows have been better than others, but the fact that I haven’t seen truly disastrous shows yet in my four-year tenure at Samford is against all odds.
In short, don’t be the idiot I was my sophomore year. Don’t think you’re above Step Sing or that it’s lame and effeminate. Do not make the mistake of missing the chance to participate in what is quite arguably the most outstanding tradition our college possesses.