Dear Sweet Adelines Members,

This communication has been created to give you specific information about the Song Assessment Tool (SAT): an overview of the process, the intentions behind it, and the efforts being made to increase our members’ sense of belonging and inclusion. Also included is a list of songs for which the assigned rating has changed from the original rating.


BACKGROUND

Origins

The Song Assessment Tool was designed and created by the Diversity and Inclusivity Task Force as part of the development of the Chorus Toolkit. Its intent was to help performers be more intentional about their choice of repertoire through research and analysis of songs.
In June of 2020, the International Board of Directors issued a statement denouncing songs with racist lyrics, messages and history, and created a rule that would result in disqualification of a chorus or quartet from any competition performance in which a song with these elements was performed.
Some of the questions already developed for the SAT were an ideal fit as a solution for evaluating songs for the presence of racist components. In order to support the rule, the final development of the SAT was accelerated so it would be in place to prepare for the first planned regional competition season in 2021. The SAT was rolled out in August of 2020 and our members have been submitting songs through this process since that time.

SAT relationship to our Guiding Principles

If you’ve not done so lately, please review the Sweet Adelines International Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement, as well as the Sweet Adelines Guiding Principles located on the Sweet Adelines website.
The songs we choose to sing reflect the overall image that we present to our membership, audiences, and our communities. As such, the SAT is a critical tool in achieving SA’s goal of fostering a culture of belonging, diversity, and inclusion.
An SAT volunteer, Jennifer Palus, has created a 20-minute video explaining both the purpose and the overall structure of the SAT. We encourage every Sweet Adeline to view it. The SAT makes it easy for members to learn about the songs we sing and encourages thoughtful discussion among performing groups to ensure the songs they choose promote a sense of inclusion and belonging for their members and audiences alike.


The SAT contains two sections:

  • The first section consists of questions that are used to arrive at an ADMISSIBILITY rating for the song. These questions pertain to issues of race and ethnicity. 
 
  • The second section consists of questions NOT related to admissibility but designed to encourage thoughtful discussion regarding additional DEI factors. We recognize that each performing group is in the best position to make decisions regarding its own members and audiences. Members may refer to the Music Choices section of Chapter Choices to Address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Chorus Toolkit for additional details/guidance in making these important decisions for their performing groups.

SUBMITTING SONGS THROUGH THE SAT

First, check the Song Evaluation Database to see if your song has already been submitted. Each arrangement of a song needs to receive its own assessment. If your song is on the list, but not your arrangement, select the appropriate option at the beginning of the SAT and you need not submit research, but only upload your arrangement.


WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR SONG SUBMISSIONS?

1.    Song is submitted through the SAT.
2.    It is assigned to one of nine Work Group Teams of four SAT volunteers (and flagged
as "In Queue" in the Shared Database).
3.    If a Team decides a song is not an unqualified YES (admissible), it is discussed by the
nine Team Leads to arrive at one of the following ratings:

  • YES: NOTE
(there is an aspect of the song that we think performers should know about when
choosing the song).
  • YES: CAUTION
(there are cautions that performers should consider in choosing the song and
provisos for the song's performance).
  • YES: LYRICS
(the song is admissible only with specified lyric changes or omissions).
  • NO
(the song is not admissible for performance by Sweet Adelines).

4.    Should the nine Team Leads not reach consensus, the song is escalated for discussion and rating by the Song Assessment Tool Subcommittee.
5.    Once the song rating is confirmed, the rating is recorded in the Shared Database.
Through this process, we ensure songs are thoroughly vetted and that we achieve consistency in our ratings and clarity for SA members. All songs that do not receive an unqualified YES contain explanatory notes at the top of the research document.

REQUESTING A REEVALUATION

Any Sweet Adeline may request a reevaluation of a song, should they feel they have pertinent information or research that may change the rating decision. Simply check the appropriate option in the SAT and provide your research and rationale. The SAT Subcommittee will consider all reevaluation requests received.

Thus far, we have changed four of our ratings as a result of reevaluation requests:

  • How Deep is the Ocean?
Changed from YES to YES with NOTE, alerting performers to the song’s lyrical link
to a mammy song by the same composer and explaining our decision to rate the
song as admissible, despite this link.
  • I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’
Changed from NO to YES with CAUTION, upon further consideration of the nature
of the vernacular contained in the song.
  • Thank You, World
Changed from YES to YES with LYRIC CHANGE, upon further consideration of the
Stonewall Jackson lyric.
  • A Tisket A Tasket
Changed from NO to YES with NOTE upon further consideration of the history of
the song and the fact that there are several variations of the 19th century rhyme
upon which it is based.

When there is a change in assessment, we will notify the submitter and give periodic updates to membership (such as this one), so all are aware.
 
HOW WILL THE SAT BE USED IN CONTEST & WHAT ABOUT OUR OTHER REPERTOIRE?

On the contest registration form, you will be required to list the songs you will sing on the contest stage and confirm that you have received an admissible rating (any form of YES rating) for each or that you found each listed as such in the Song Evaluation Database. You will also be expected to align with any provisos for songs that have received Yes with Caution or Yes with Lyric Change ratings. Registrations without SAT information will not be accepted until admissibility is obtained.

Please note that it is encouraged that Sweet Adeline performers will verify the admissibility of songs before ANY performance, including performances that are posted and shared over social media. We recommend that groups prioritize submission of their repertoire, giving precedence to contest songs and those you anticipate performing in the near future. Always check the Song Evaluation Database first. You may find that much of your repertoire has already been submitted.

BENEFITS OF THE SAT

Know that your involvement in submitting songs through the SAT is helping all of us, as an organization, to live our Guiding Principles. An added benefit that has come as a pleasant surprise to many is the education we receive as we delve into the music, the composer, the lyricist and the time in history that influenced the piece, resulting in a deeper connection with our music and richer performances. Another positive result is that the concerns some had that a lot of our songs would be deemed inadmissible has not come to pass. At this writing, we have assessed over 1,300 songs/arrangements and over 97% have been deemed admissible!

SAT ENGAGEMENT TO DATE

Many of you have been involved in submitting songs for your quartet, your chorus and/or your region. The evaluations received have been thoughtful and thorough. Kudos to all of you! And special recognition and thanks to the following individuals, quartets, choruses, and regions with the greatest number of submissions as of this writing!

  • Rosieta Y Ramiro with 71 submissions!!
Runner-Up = Shirley Nicholson with 50 submissions!
Honorable Mention = Marie Grafwallner-Huseth with 46 submissions!

  • By Request Quartet with 33 submissions!
Runner-Up = Friends Quartet with 15 submissions

  • Na Leo Lani Chorus with 56 submissions!
Runners-Up = Pacific Edge Chorus & Vienna-Falls Chorus with 40
submissions.
Honorable Mention = Kansas City Chorus with 39 submissions

  • Region 26 with 236 submissions!
Runner-Up = Region 3 with 125 submissions

Also, many thanks to the 38 SAT volunteers who work diligently to assess submissions or with the mechanics of the SAT process. If you would like to volunteer to assist with this critical initiative, please email us at songassessment@sweetadelines.com.
 
CLOSING MESSAGE

The Song Assessment Tool Subcommittee and SAT volunteers are available to answer questions, walk you through the SAT process, and offer any insight or guidance you may need. Contact us at: songassessment@sweetadelines.com.

Thank you to everyone for your continuing participation in this critical initiative.
 
In the spirit of belonging & inclusion,

The Song Assessment Tool Subcommittee

Adelina Zottola, Chair
Jessie Caynon
Gail Jencik
June Lenk
Sandy Marron
 
Please note that a member login is required to access the Chorus Toolkit webpage. For assistance in logging in, please see the Member Login Instructions.

If you have questions or concerns about the contents of this letter, you may address them to exec@sweetadelines.com.

Thank you for your continued commitment to staying #SweetAdelinesStrong.