BRIGHT FUTURE: Regional group marches togetherPublished 12:05am Thursday, July 19, 2012
NATCHEZ — High school students from Natchez, Jefferson County and Port Gibson have gathered together this summer for their love of music.estimates
Director Courtland Smoot and his assistant directors, Bryon Chatman and Melton Harvey, started the Southwest Mississippi All-Star marching band, for incoming freshmen to outgoing seniors.
The band also includes majorettes, flag girls and twirlers.
Smoot said he started this band to give students something to do for the summer. He promoted the program during the school year to get students signed up.
Natchez High School seniors JaDarrius Mitchell, 17, and Jasmine Davis, 17, said they enjoyed the program and plan on attending next summer.
“I like being a part of this band because it brings good recognition for Southwest Mississippi,” Mitchell said.
This summer program lasted two months with a total of eight performances, including the band’s final performance last Sunday at the Independence Show-Down Battle of the Bands in Jackson.
Smoot said members of the summer band workshop were required to have at least two-to-three years of experience.
Davis said she has been playing the clarinet for seven years, and Mitchell has been playing both the French horn and mellophone for five years.
“My brother was in band, and I wanted to be in it too,” Davis said.
Smoot said the majorettes, flag girls and twirlers usually choreograph their own dances, but they have had some professionals come in to better their techniques.
Smoot said he and the assistant directors arrange the music to be played by the band and they practiced from 4 to 8 p.m. every Sunday in the NHS band room.
Davis said she loves when the crowd gets excited as they play.
Smoot said Davis and Mitchell are some of his best band members. He said both students are always willing to do anything that is asked of them and can get the job done.
Davis and Mitchell said they love playing their instruments but don’t plan on being professional musicians. But, both said they will continue to play in their spare time as a hobby.
Smoot said next year the band may branch out to college students.
“This was our first year. I hope to get bigger and better,” Smoot said.
Smoot said he teaches and assists with bands at West Elementary and Natchez High.
The band had 60 members from Natchez, 40 from Jefferson County and five from Port Gibson.