Southern Brooklyn

BK Sings! Madison, Midwood & Murrow To Hold First-Ever Inter-Sing Competition

Photo by Erica Sherman

Three major Southern Brooklyn high schools are banding together to hold the first-ever inter-SING! competition, called Brooklyn Sings!, to benefit the American Cancer Society.

As any Brooklyn public high school graduate knows, SING! competitions can dominate school culture, bringing in students at every level to plan and produce a musical-production based on a different theme each year. The grades compete against each other for bragging rights.

What many may not know is that SING!, now a phenomenon at high schools across the greater New York City area, is a distinctly Southern Brooklyn creation, first established at Midwood High School in 1947 by music teacher Bella Tillis. The 1989 film Sing is based on the Brooklyn traditions, and SING! alumni include Barbra Streisand, Paul Simon, Tim Robbins, Paul Reiser and Neil Diamond.

Midwood, Madison and Murrow are all well-known for their grandiose productions that can involve hundreds of students.

Brooklyn Sings!, the inter-school event, is being created to benefit the American Cancer Society. It was conceived by the Bergen Beach, Mill Basin and Marine Park Relay for Life team and one of its organizers, Joe Gillette.

“Our Relay for Life team is so thankful to each of these amazing schools for taking on BROOKLYN SINGS!  We know this event will be great for all the talented students, the schools and the community as a whole as we all unite and give of ourselves for a worthy cause,” Gillete said in a press release. “We encourage anyone who wants to get involved with our Relay for Life organization to join us as we strive to make a difference in our schools and community.”

“SING began in Midwood in 1947.  Mrs. Belle Tillis (who passed away last year 15 days shy of her 100th birthday) is credited with bringing SING to Midwood,” said Midwood Principal Michael McDonnell. “For the last 60 + years, our student body has sung, danced and acted their way towards winning the annual SING competition.  In fact the organizers of all the schools’ SINGs were Midwood students who had participated in Midwood SING.  So it is with great honor and responsibility that along with the help of Relay for Life, we get to “throw down the gauntlet” to our neighboring schools.”

Anyone interested in supporting one of the school’s fundraising efforts for the ACS can make a tax deductible donation by visiting the team page of their favorite school.

For Midwood visit;
For Madison visit
For Murrow visit

The event will be held March 8 at 6 p.m. at Edward R. Murrow High School (1600 Avenue L). Tickets will be sold through each school, and go one sale February 24.

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  1. Actually it was Lincoln and Sheepshead who competed in the first EVER Inter-Sing way back in Jan. 1974 to be followed by Lincoln-Sheepshead-Midwood the following year, Jan. 1975! I know this as it was my junior and senior class that won Lincoln’s SING both years and represented our high school at Inter-Sing 🙂

  2. I didn’t know that, Susan, about the first one only being between Lincoln and Sheepshead. Thanks for the info! 🙂

  3. It is my understanding that FDR no longer does this. With a profound change in demographics, the old idea of the neighborhood High School having changed over the past twenty years or so, with students being shuffled all over the City in an attempt to improve academic performance, The Sings which always had helped encourage school pride and spirit have been in decline! Bummer!!! Nonetheless, I hope this venture goes well, and find it interesting that back in my days of HS which would be the very early early 1970’s, Sheepshead had a very dull student body compared to FDR’s, and Midwood’s perennial City Champion Tennis team, was always afraid to play the newly opened FDR team, who played in another division, an exhibition match!!! By the way, has anyone realized that the popular show GLEE, is just Brooklyn Sings on steroids!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I went to Midwood in the early 70s, and was fortunate to study under Belle Tillis. She was also a friend of my parents. SING was my favorite part of HS, and my daughters continued that tradition at Madison. What a wonderful fundraiser for a great cause, and tribute to Belle Tillis’ legacy.

  5. Hi Susan! I can’t believe I don’t remember that!! I think I was in Sheepshead in 1974. Soph year was Angels and Devils. Then I remember Junior year, the class won with a ?Native American theme? and I can’t remember senior year. Am I correct?

  6. Stuyvesant also has a rich, long tradition of SING! Tim Robbins, Paul Reiser and Lucy Liu are just a few of Stuy’s alums. My mom, however, was in Midwood SING! under Belle Tillis. What a fantastic tradition!!

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