The beautiful storied history of Sing-A-Rama can best be told using the word that describes all the gratitude to God for blessing it to be revived and still alive today. To tell the story, we will use an acronym of the word, P-R-A-I-S-E!
We will give a brief history of the beginning years followed by the revival of Phase II Sing-A-Rama and how it started and continues today. I realize that there are different versions of this history, but this is the best way that I can recount. Please excuse any inconsistencies that you may find.
P is for the POWER of singing together. (Col. 3:16) These were powerful and momentous times. The area churches in Los Angeles had many singing groups when Curtis McCullom came to the Church of Christ at 57th and Figueroa Avenue. The many years of excellence in singing influenced by the maestro Floyd B. Lee and the Radio Chorus fostered this. At this time, the Southside Church of Christ had hired Willie Norwood that made him the first Minister of Music at a predominately Black Church. The area-wide first Sunday singing was populated with many great singing groups. Sylvia Rose had recently penned a beloved songbook, Songs of Faith. She was asked to write two songs for the first West Coast Sing-A-Rama. Sing-A-Rama on the West Coast was first envisioned by Curtis McCullom.
R is for the REASON why we sing. We sing to show our togetherness and to experience the power of singing praises to lift one another’s burdens and to encourage one another in the Lord. Yes, in the words of the hymn, “His Eye is On the Sparrow,”
I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.
The first Sing-O-Rama, as it was called then, was a tribute to Floyd B. Lee and Sylvia Rose and a special tribute to Rhynett Chatman. The group, “Straight Company” and the late Johnnie Wilder were the feature groups.
A is for ACAPPELLA singing with the instrument fashioned not by the man’s hands but by the hand of Almighty God. Sing-A-Rama continued to be a source of blessing to the Los Angeles area for a few years following the excitement of the first event. Sing-A-Rama moved from the church buildings to other venues but continued to inspire and promote spiritual fellowship and the “church style” of singing, which is what the word a cappella means.
I is the letter for the great I AM. An outpouring of praise to God is what is always needed in times like these. When God wants to gather His people together, when He wants to prepare them for battle, or when He wants to bring revival, He sends his heralded praise. Sing-A-Rama went through a period of struggle to get started again and for a few years did not happen.
S is the letter for SINGING. Would we recapture the joy of being together in one place for one purpose and share the joy of our salvation and invite others to do the same? Will a special event like Sing-A-Rama happen again? These were questions that were being asked after Sing-A-Rama had not been happening for a few years.
E is for spiritual ENERGY! In 2007, Phase II began for Sing-S-Rama. Willie Norwood, Joe Holt, and Addison Doby met at KnockOut Vocal Studio in North Hollywood, CA and decided to host Sing-A-Rama again. There seemed to be a spirit of anticipation and excitement in the air. The Holy Spirit sent a blessed time of refreshing and revival!
There were others interested in starting it back up at the same time too. Gloria Armour, Toni Stewart, Faith Taylor, Joan Moon, Rayva Harrell, Joe Holt and Willard Crigler made up the Phase II Sing-A-Rama Committee. Willie Norwood became the Director of the event, and for marketing reasons, Sing-A-Rama was renamed Sing-A-Rama II. In 2008, Sing-A-Rama II was hosted at the LAX Renaissance Montura Hotel. Since that time, Sing-A-Rama has been an annual event up to the present by the grace of God. Today it is named, Sing-A-Rama Acappella Music Conference because the event offers training through workshops and more.