By Kat Worrall
Uproar Records’ singer-songwriter artist Trannie Stevens, a McGregor junior, has a lot of musical experience. She’s performed with big names like Toby Keith and Jack Ingram. She has been a headlining performer, recorded in Nashville and has big hopes for her musical future. However, performing with Sigma Alpha Epsilon during this year’s All-University Sing is a first for Stevens and an experience she calls incomparable.
Stevens at first struggled with the idea of competing with Sigma Alpha Epsilon when their head Sing chair, Sugar Land junior Jack Spalding, asked her last spring. Because of an illness her sophomore year, Stevens has never competed in Sing with her sorority Chi Omega, she said.
“It is sad for me to not be on stage with Chi Omega, because so many of my good friends are in the act and created the act, but it has been really fun and worth it to be in SAE,” she said.
After receiving her friends’ approval, Stevens committed in the fall to performing with Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Spalding and Stevens have been friends since freshman year and even composed and performed two songs for After Dark that year. Spalding was excited to have Stevens’ talent for Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
“She adds so much to the show,” Spalding said. “When I say her name in the middle of the act, people go nuts.”
Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s act “Lifeguard” is about lifeguards trying to control the “pool rats,” Stevens said. While Stevens sings a little on nearly all of the songs, her two main songs are “It’s a Hard Knock Life” and Dreamgirls’ “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” the Sing finale song. Steven’s outfit, a poofy pink dress, was one of her ideas for the act, Spalding said.
“When I suggested the song that is the finale, which is a big finale, she was like, ‘What if I wore this dress I wore to prom in high school?’” Spalding said. “It was so pink and girly-girl and I thought it was funny.”
She also contributed to some of the interactions happening on the side and how the men sing, Spalding said.
“Her creative vision is her second best quality,” Spalding said, after her vocal talent.
With Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s traditionally humorous act, which includes rapping, opera and a recorder performance, the group takes a different approach than most groups, but it is more Stevens’ speed, she said.
“This is supposed to be a fun show,” Stevens said. “This isn’t necessarily a career starter for people. I totally understand why people pour so much time into it because it is a competition. I get it and I respect people who take it really seriously because it is a lot of work, but I also respect SAE for being different.”
While many groups spend hours each week practicing, she said Sigma Alpha Epsilon had around eight practices.
“They’re able to put together an act that’s well done and hilarious with very minimal effort,” she said. “It’s unique that they can do that. It’s one of the most anticipated acts in the show every year.”
Spalding decided to use Stevens and her voice because of her talent and Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s lack of singers.
“Trannie is incredibly talented and a beautiful voice,” Spalding said. “Having her in Sing takes that much weight off my own voice. I have somebody else in the show singing beside me — that was actually a goal I accomplished this year.”
Stevens said her favorite part of the act is walking out at the end, alone on the stage in her pink dress, and then having the boys dance behind her.
“They all come out, do ‘Kappa arms’ and make fun of every other Greek life on campus behind me,” Stevens said. “It’s just so funny.”
With new friends and a new Sing experience, Stevens has enjoyed participating with the group and joked they “made her a SAE.”
“Everybody else’s is so similar, in certain ways,” Stevens said. “They’re trying to maximize every single thing on the score sheet and SAE is just trying to create the most entertaining act they possibly can. I think that is more important in the long run.”
The entertainment is not without improvement on the legitimacy of the act each year, she said, and that is because of Spalding.
“Jack is very serious about turning SAE’s reputation around,” Stevens said. “He wants to keep it fun and he wants to keep it funny and what SAE is known for in that way, but he also wants it to be well done and for it to have a chance to go to Pigskin. I think he does a really good job and has honestly increased the quality of the act every year.”
As for Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s chance of making Pigskin Revue this year, Stevens said she believes they might have a chance.
“I think we are the wild card,” she said. “I don’t think there’s a great chance, but if it happens, I am going to be the happiest girl at Baylor.”
Whether or not the group makes Pigskin, Stevens said she believes they should not change a thing for their future performances.
“I think they should keep doing what they’re doing, honestly,” she said. “Maybe practice a bit more to really nail choreography, because that is something that is important, but I think they should always keep entertainment and comedy as their number one.”
As for Stevens’ more serious musical career, she has a new single being released on April 1 called “Twice.”
Stevens is working on an EP to be released next fall and is planning a mini-tour in April with Auburn University student and folk singer-songwriter Ben Hoefling. The duo will be perform on April 12 at Common Grounds.
Stevens is using her time competing in All-University Sing with the men of Sigma Alpha Epsilon to shed her singer-songwriter persona for a few nights.
“This is more like theater to me,” Stevens said. “I’m not being myself on stage — I’m a lifeguard. I’m a lifeguard, then I’m a lifeguard diva in a pink dress.”