Ouachita Baptist University’s Tiger Tunes is returning for its 39th annual show this October. The Ouachita Student Foundation (OSF), who oversees the show, raises scholarship funds from the proceeds of ticket sales and the silent auction.
OSF first received inspiration to begin a song-and-dance show after watching other school shows, such as Baylor Spring Sing (now Baylor Sing), become extremely popular.
Baylor Spring Sing was hosted for students, faculty and alumni during the spring semester. The fraternities and sororities that advanced would move on to the fall revue, competing for cash prizes and grants. The event started in 1953 and continues to be a Baylor tradition to this day.
OSF members approached OBU President Daniel Grant during the fall of 1978 and proposed the idea of having their very own song-and-dance show. The school had seen success in its student life and scholarship-raising event Tiger Tracks. OSF wanted an event in the fall to parallel Tiger Track’s scholarship raising, in the spring.
“[I said,] ‘I am going to the Baptist World Alliance meeting in England in the early summer, and will be seeing Mrs. Marie Mathis who is the director of Baylor’s Spring Sing. I will ask her if she thinks we could have a Ouachita Spring Sing in the fall,’” Grant said. “[Then,] the OSF leaders said ‘we will wait.’ When I saw Mrs. Mathis, she said ‘Oh, no. You could never get ready in time to have it in the fall. It takes all year.’ When I came back, I talked to the student leaders and they said, ‘Oh, yes we can.’”
Thus the first Tiger Tunes production was held later that year. The event was held in the Mitchell Hall auditorium, which was about half the size of the current venue, Jones Performing Arts Center (JPAC). Mitchell hall was eventually torn down to build the Jones Science Center and the event was moved to JPAC. Students went into work mode and were able to choreograph their songs and dance moves within the span of two months, providing a fresh take on their predecessor Baylor Spring Sing.
From its beginnings, Tiger Tunes has been comprised of the school’s various men and women’s social clubs, as well as a Campus Ministries and Student Life show. Each club creates their own song lyrics and dance routine to accompany. The clubs practice for weeks on end to memorize their lines, choreography and set list. This time is seen as a time for unity and friendship, as students struggle together and build one another up. Over the years, Ouachita has seen a few clubs come and go, but many clubs still remain on campus to this date. Clubs that have participated in Tiger Tunes include; the men of Beta Beta, the men of Rho Sigma, the women of EEE, the women of Tri Chi, the men of Kappa Chi, the women of Chi Mu, the men of Sigma Alpha Sigma, the women of Chi Delta, the men of Eta Alpha Omega, the women of Gamma Phi, the women of Theta Lambda Tau, the women of Alpha Lambda Omega, the Baptist Student Union and the International club. Ouachita’s marching band also performs following intermission each year as “Tiger Blast,” though they do not take part in the competition portion of Tiger Tunes.
Between the club’s performances, Tiger Tunes hosts and hostesses, perform their own choreographed musical show. Their performances act as a transition, so that the clubs have enough time to prepare and take center stage. Being a host or hostess is a very high honor at Ouachita. Each year OSF holds a competition in which eager students must sing and dance to compete for these spots.
Tunes has seen many obstacles in its path, but has always persevered and seen the event through to its end. 1985 brought a weekend of stormy weather and gloomy rain, but the event continued nonetheless. Just before the 1987 Tiger Tunes opening show, a portion of the ceiling collapsed, but OSF and the clubs powered through completing their scheduled show.
Tiger Tunes has often offered cash prizes to the club that has taken home the most awards at the conclusion of Tunes week. Judges evaluate the clubs based on their: theme and lyric, costume, choreography, music, and overall entertainment. Each category features two judges that determine the group’s score. At the end of the final performance the scores are tallied and the group with the most points receives the prestigious honor of winning Tiger Tunes. An OSF award is commonly presented to the club that shows the most pride, support of OSF and support of their peers participating in Tunes.
Over the last 38 years, Tiger Tunes has helped the Ouachita Student Foundation raise over $1.3 million in scholarship money. These scholarships go directly towards students being able to attend or stay at Ouachita. Tiger Tracks also provides scholarship money in the spring, but Tiger Tunes quickly outgrew Tiger Tracks. OSF is responsible for ticket sales, merchandising, contacting alumni and making sure that the club’s shows are viewer friendly and will run smoothly.
Alumni have always been encouraged to return to OBU for Homecoming weekend to watch their alma mater team in the homecoming football game, see who is crowned the homecoming queen and participate in what is quite literally a homecoming. Initially, Tiger Tunes and homecoming were not held on the same week, proving difficult for alumni that wanted to attend both, but did not want to make two trips back to OBU. In 1990, Homecoming and Tiger Tunes were combined, much to the excitement of many alumni.
Tiger Tunes has followed a long and winding path, leading us to the 39th annual Tunes show. This year shows extreme promise. Students have juggled their classes and workload with their club practice time with extreme grace. Lack of sleep and overworking their bodies has taken its toll on many, but these students have always gone into Tunes with a great attitude. They know their shows will bring a smile to not only their faces, but the faces of those who receive the OSF scholarships and faculty and alumni that return every year for the beloved Tiger Tunes.
By Will Blase, features editor
Editor’s note: Tiger Blast was originally excluded from this article, and it has been corrected to include it.