Tag team act injects diversity into Sing

Sarah Groman | Round Up Photographer
Memphis, Tenn., senior Britney Thornton performs during the Heavenly Voices Gospel choir and National Panhellenic Council’s Sing act.

By Caitlin Giddens

This may be their first appearance on the stage of All-University Sing, but they hope it won’t be their last.

Bridging the gap between Greek organizations on campus, National Pan-Hellenic Council partnered with Baylor Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir for their inaugural Sing performance last weekend.

“It’s advertised as All-University Sing, but not the entire campus has been represented in this Baylor tradition,” Memphis, Tenn., senior Britney Thornton said. “This has been an issue on our hearts for a while. There has never been a consistent minority act in Sing, so NPHC and Heavenly Voices stepped up this year.”

For members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council and Baylor Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir, it’s not just about the opening curtain and advancing to Pigskin. It’s about opening doors for the future of their organization.

“We want to show Baylor that NPHC and Heavenly Voices have been here for a while,” Thornton said. “Hopefully the newness of our act won’t blind people to its quality. And hopefully we’re paving the way for future members to make their way into Pigskin.”

The group’s “Dance Train” act stunned the audience last weekend with its powerful vocals. The act featured members auditioning for a recreation of “Soul Train.” Flower Mound junior Shelby Strider performs a solo to “I’m Somebody” from the film “Dreamgirls.”

“That is such a perfect song because our act is really a declaration of saying we’re somebody on campus,” Strider said. “We’re definitely making history, and it’s crazy to think I’m a part of that. I could come back to Sing in a few years and remember I was in the first act.”

But the inaugural act didn’t make the stage without facing its share of challenges.

“Obviously, we have less members in NPHC, so that’s been a challenge,” Thornton said. “And we’ve faced opposition from the community, saying we need to stay in our own lane and not break into the mainstream.”

Instead of quitting under the pressure, the council and the Heavenly Voices choir united to create the best act possible.

“This has really made our whole counsel closer,” Thornton said. “We have seven different sororities and fraternities in NPHC, so this entire process has made all of the members closer.”

NPHC asked Heavenly Voices to contribute with vocal performances to add to the quality of their act.

“This has really helped in bridging the gap between the different organizations of NPHC and Heavenly Voices,” Strider said. “It opened our eyes to the separation not just between NPHC and the other Greek groups, but the separation within NPHC and Heavenly Voices.”

By showcasing their presence on campus, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and Baylor Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir strive to educate their own members as well.

“A lot of people in Heavenly Voices didn’t know what Sing was when we were asked to join,” Strider said. “They didn’t know it was a competition, or that it lasted two weekends. That speaks to how separated Baylor can be.”

As a member of the Heavenly Voices choir, Waco senior Andrea Pena said she hopes the future of Sing will include all types of minorities.

“I’m a Hispanic in a predominantly African-American organization,” Pena said. “So I want all minorities to get involved with acts in Sing. I think this will create diversity at Baylor.”