By Melody Vallieu
In the years surrounding the Vietnam War and hard core drugs, a single man, Dr. Carl Ellsworth Tate, sought to bring peace to a turbulent nation through song.
And, through the voice of more than 1,000 teenagers and Sing-Out Troy, Tate seemingly somewhat achieved his goal.
Started in 1967, Sing-Out Troy became a musical success, performing in several midwestern states and twice went abroad behind the Iron Curtain with their musical message of freedom and unity of all people.
The group also performed for retired President Harry S. Truman and were the inspiration for many other Sing-Out groups, according to the 1998 Troy Hall of Fame induction booklet.
The group was a not-for-profit organization, which received sponsorship from the Optimist Club, the Troy Foundation and the Troy Daily News.
During Sing-Out Troy’s reign, Tate also practiced optometry and helped his wife raise their four children.
Allen Rowe participated in Sing-Out Troy from his sophomore year in high school until college.
He remembers “Doc Tate” as being a father-figure to many of the students who participated in the organization.
“Doc and I were real close,” Rowe said. “He was like a second father to me. To a lot of kids. He kept a lot of kids of the streets.”
“He knew that some of the kids in the cast weren’t angels,” Rowe said. “His goal was to keep them from going so far they weren’t reachable.”
Rowe said the organization’s first big performance was in Louisville at the International Optimist Convention. He said many of the later performances were booked following that performance.
“We were well received wherever we went,” Rowe said.
Rowe, who said he couldn’t “carry a tune in a bucket,” said Tate knew he couldn’t sing and found other things for him to do, such as work with the sound and lighting.
Rowe even attributes meeting his wife or more than 30 years to Sing-Out Troy. She was picking her sister up at the time.
“Without Doc, me and my wife probably wouldn’t be married,” Rowe said. “She was picking her sister up and saw me and thought I was just the cutest little thing. She joined Sing-Out Troy to be near me.”
Rowe said Tate believed in the idea of the Moral Re-Armament movement, which was based on honesty, purity, unselfishness and love, and encouraged its members to be actively involved in political and social issues.
“Doc was a pacifist, but there were many songs in our repertoire that supported our troops. He was very religious and I think that affected his views,” Rowe said.
Rowe said he was able to see and speak to Tate prior to his death, which meant a lot to him.
“And now that my dad also has passed, the two biggest male influences in my life are gone,” Rowe said. “He did a lot for Troy. He put Troy on the map.”