Craig Jones began his Spring Sing career 46 years ago, the same year Spring Sing started, and has been vital for staple production throughout the years.
Jones, an instructor of music and Bible at Harding Academy, came to the role when Steve and Dottie Frye, Spring Sing directors, asked him to take his talents as vocal coach with hosts and hostesses and move it to the club shows.
“I loved it very much, but I also valued sleep so I stopped doing that,” Jones said. Jones currently meets with each club show twice, once to hear the show and add adjustments and a second time for the recording of the club’s vocal track. Working with club shows on diction, harmonies and notes, Jones workshops the groups’ vocals in advance of their music track recording. “If you work harder here early, then when you’re on the stage for the show, you don’t
have to work as hard,” Jones said.
Over the years, Jones has worked with many shows, but said the one that stands out is “The Show Heard ‘Round The World,” a 2014 show from men’s social club Knights. He said he was immediately impressed by the high-quality nature of their performance, music and lyrics.
He also recalls a show from men’s social club TNT and women’s social club Zeta Rho in which the group’s vocals were so strong, production turned off their vocal track on a Saturday performance to let their talent sing for itself.
It is not, however, always pitch-perfect, Jones said. Certain male voices and untrained singers can make perfecting the shows a tall task.
“The hardest issues are when male voices drop an octave to sing the melody instead of the harmony that is written,” Jones said. “Sometimes you just have to punt what the arranger has done because it doesn’t work with the voices that are in the group.”
Sophomore Andrew Lanning, a director for the men’s social club Gamma Sigma Phi and women’s social club Pi Theta Phi show, said Jones made all the difference in their show’s vocal performance.
“He brought another professional level to our show and held us to a higher standard,” Lanning said. “He was able to bring out the musical talent that we didn’t know we had.”
Junior Kyle Raney, a director for men’s social club TNT and women’s social club Zeta Rho, said Jones was not afraid to tell the directors and cast what they needed to hear.
“Because he didn’t just give us a ‘Great job, y’all sound great’ and actually gave us constructive criticism, we were able to take our track and work super hard on it,” Raney said. “After that practice, the track completely changed into something I couldn’t be more proud of. He seriously made our track go from good to outstanding.”
While the majority of the audience will never directly recognize the time and talent Jones offers, his dedication will pay off in the sounds that hit their ears as they enjoy the eight club shows.