One of the highlights of going to a Georgia Southern University football game is watching the Southern Pride Marching Band perform.
In fact, many people across the state think that of all of Georgia’s college marching bands, GSU’s Southern Pride is the best. So it was no surprise the band was invited to perform “The Grand Finale Exhibition” at the 37th Annual Greater Atlanta Marching Band Competition held recently in Conyers.
The competition is both the oldest and the longest continuously running high school marching band competition in the state. And performing for the 22 bands that came to Rockdale County High School for the competition was an invitation Georgia Southern band director Dr. Colin McKenzie said he couldn’t pass up.
Southern Pride did not disappoint the gathered bands and crowd at Conyers High School. Not only did the band perform its pregame, halftime, and postgame Shows, Southern Pride performed for the first time its new “Beatles Show.” The band will perform the Beatles Show at halftime of Thursday night’s game against Troy University at Paulson Stadium.
Led by drum majors Adam Youngman, Sequoyah Benton and Rob Ingram, the band’s 206 members took up the entire field at Conyers. Director McKenzie quickly got the crowd wound up with a rousing rendition of Ray Charles’ “Georgia on My Mind.”
For the Beatles performance, the band chose the songs “Magical Mystery Tour,” “Lady Madonna,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Yesterday,” “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “The End.” The show was popular with the crowd, as many sang along while the band played.
The Southern Pride’s drum line performed two special percussion arrangements during “Eleanor Rigby” and “Sergeant Pepper’s.” The color guard glided through the special dance in “Yesterday,” and trumpeters Jacob Lukemeir and Brandon Shinholster wowed the crowd with their solo turns.
McKenzie and assistant band director Tim Kitzinger took great pride in telling prospective GSU students and their families that up to 75 percent of band members are not music majors but actually come from almost every major offered at Georgia Southern.
For example, drummer Caleb Anim-Andoh, from Ghana, is a pre-med student. What band experience did he have in Ghana?
“I never marched before and never played in a marching band before I came here,” he said. “I had watched the movie ‘Drum Line.’ I had watched tons of videos (of the Southern Pride) ... but on the first day of full ensemble performance during preseason, I was like, ‘Oh my God!”
Anim-Andoh said being a member of both Eagle Nation and Southern Pride means a great deal to him. He is so proud of the band, he said: “I just can’t wait for the day I get to (go home to) Ghana and I play something for the high schools and stuff.”
As “ambassadors” of the university, band members knew they were entertaining the crowds and showing the public just what Georgia Southern has to offer. Southern Pride ended the performance with a rousing version of the Eagles fight song. After the performance, McKenzie told band members they are “the polished silver star on the university’s crown.”
Directors and parents of participating high school bands at the competition asked McKenzie and Kitzinger about Georgia Southern, and they happily answered questions about the band and the school.