Town & Gown:
The Sound of Sensational
By Dr. William A. Meehan
President, Jacksonville State University
Weekly Column - Town and Gown
“Now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the Jacksonville State
University Marching Southerners!” As soon as you hear this announcement come
over the loud speaker at any football field, you know you are about to watch one
of the top college bands in the nation perform a thrilling show.
Coming off of a 50th anniversary season, the Southerners and Marching
Ballerinas are back on the field, continuing the momentum forward with this
year’s show, “Higher, Faster, Louder!”
“It is a high-energy show which the crowd seems to really like. We have gone
with a Latin style music, which is usually always enjoyable for our audiences,”
says Director of Bands Ken Bodiford. “We have a really great group of students
The opening of the 13-minute show, a Spanish favorite, “A Mis Abuelos,” is a
fast-paced celebration of sound, including a trumpet quartet that blows the
crowd away. The Marching Ballerinas, dressed in fiery red, dazzle the audience
with their dance techniques and personality in the second tune, “Sway.”
In memory of Dr. Jerryl Davis, the ballad is an important feature in the
Southerners program this year. Dr. Davis, a huge supporter, former arranger of
the group and university professor, is honored in true Southerners fashion in
“Gabriel’s Oboe.” This tribute is truly a musical masterpiece on the field, and
an amazement with an array of colors projected by the JSU Color Guard.
The finale of the halftime fiesta is a version of “El Toro Caliente,” a hot
Latin Jazz chart that features the percussion in an over-the-top production. The
Southerners never leave a crowd disappointed, and this year’s fiery finish is no
Traveling to different counties and states to perform, this group of 378
members is the largest mobile recruiting tool JSU has the opportunity to house.
The students in the group are a representation of this fact, coming from 17
states and 2 countries.
Proof of excelling talent, hard work and musicianship can also be seen in the
numerous letters and emails received from other band directors, alumni and fans.
Recently performing part of their show during the halftime of the JSU vs.
University of Memphis football game in Tennessee, the Southerners put on an
exhilarating show prompting thousands of fans to stand and cheer.
In a letter Bodiford received, one UM fan exclaimed his awe at seeing the
Southerners for the first time. “Their look and demeanor was so professional and
different from any other college band that I have ever seen. Then, when they
took the field, from the first note my eyes were glued to the field,” said the
Tiger fan. “I am 62 years old and for the first time in my life I found myself
on my feet at the end of halftime, cheering for the opposing school’s band.”
It is no coincidence the Southerners receive comments, letters and emails
such as this one after every performance. The staff and students work daily to
ensure the precision and quality are heard and seen once the Southerners take
Erin Chupp, a graduate assistant in the Office of Marketing and
Communications, contributed to this article.
About William A. Meehan
Dr. William A. Meehan is president of Jacksonville
State University. His column, "Town & Gown," appears in The Jacksonville News.
See story at The Jacksonville News's website: www.jaxnews.com
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