Guest Column: Mississippi All-State Lions Band bedazzled attendees on the Skipworth stage
Those who attended the Mississippi All State Lions Band performance on June 21 at the Skipworth Performing Arts Center were bedazzled to put it simply. This is the best and most enduring example of high achievement in the Performing Arts that Mississippi produces, and they have been producing and winning for 73 years. As Stanley Hartness MD said, “I had goose bumps on my goose bumps.”
dr Hartness, who just had his 80th birthday, was a French horn player in the Lions Band (1950’s). He said he was so nervous when he tried out that he bumbled his music piece and Director Thomas Wasson requested he be given another chance. Indeed, it is as hard to earn a chair in this elite group of musicians as it is to get into medical school.
Billy Tom Wasson said of them, “spectacular!”
Abigail Glazier, a member of the Big Red Band said, “It was so cool that they came here.”
Caroline Knight…. “They were magical!”
The director, Jeff Cannon, acknowledged the rich band heritage in Kosciusko and tapped Mickey Grove to direct the national anthem. Mickey Mangum, assistant director, said when Mr. Grove invited Cannon to come play at the Skipworth Center, he accepted without hesitation.
Throughout its history, the Mississippi Lions Band has played all over the world, and this talented group of young people do not relent. Although winning is seldom mentioned in rehearsal, this group wins its international competition over half the time.
So what is the formula? Young, energetic, talented students with a strong work ethic challenged by a most able and competent staff.
As demonstrated over the years, these young people will go on to accomplish great things both in and out of the world of music. They are an example to all of us.
They are a treasure that never stops shining.
At the close of the evening, while the band was backstage packing up, my wife Mary Al sought out Dee Dee Price, who is the director of the Gulfport Band, and had conducted a stirring arrangement of “Down to the River” (Oh Brother , Where art Thou).
“Y’all were so awesome,” said Mary Al.
“To God be the Glory,” was Dee Dee’s reply!
By the way, even though it will be seldom mentioned, this year’s Lions Band is once again the International Champions for 2022!