‘The Sound’ breaks sweat for halftime show

Draven Jackson

Staff Writer

“Sound of the South,” Troy University’s renowned marching band, will debut its first halftime show on Saturday, Sept. 3, during the first Troy football game.

“Sound of the South,” sometimes referred to as “the Sound” or SOTS, was initiated in 1965 by legendary founder, John M. Long.

Long, director emeritus of SOTS, created the nationally recognized band program 26 years after the first Troy band program was founded.

Today, the band has a national reputation and has had featured appearances at numerous music conventions, concert tours and recordings with Troy University’s symphony band.

Students who are members of “the Sound” say they feel a great sense of pride in being part of such a prestigious group.

“It’s really honoring to be a part of the band because it has such a rich tradition,” said Patrick Ferguson, junior music education major from Crestview, Florida. “There’s a lot of pressure to live up to how they’ve been doing it the last 77 years now.”

Ferguson is the head trombone section leader in SOTS and a part of the band council.

“It’s really exhilarating to perform in the show,” Ferguson said.  “It’s also really exciting, really scary and makes me really nervous. The end factor where the crowd goes really wild makes it all worth it.”

Sammy Alday, a senior music major from Donalsonville, Georgia, will be performing in the show as this year’s drum major.  Alday said he’s known since he was in the eighth grade that he wanted to lead the band.

“My band director, a graduate of Troy University, took a group of students to see the ‘Sound of the South’ perform at a Troy football game,” Alday said. “The first downbeat of the fanfare was literally the best thing I’ve ever heard.

“It was my dream from that day forward to become not only a member of the band, but to have the greatest privilege of leading the best band of the south as its drum major.”

Erin Jeffcoat, a senior elementary education major from Rose Hill, will be a majorette in her last season as part of SOTS.

“I’m excited­—really excited about it,” Jeffcoat said. “It’s kind of bittersweet, though, since it is my last year.”

Members of SOTS said they have been working tirelessly on this year’s show.

“We had three practices during the summer, and we just got done with a nine-day camp,” Jeffcoat said. “We practiced from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. for nine days straight, including Saturday and Sunday.”

This year’s show will consist of five pieces beginning with the Maynard Ferguson jazz ballad version of the “Rocky” theme song, “Gonna Fly Now,” and ending with “Legend of the One-Eyed Sailor” by Chuck Mangione, a jazz artist.

Other songs in the show include the bluegrass hit “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band, during which a member of the drumline will be featured on the fiddle, the percussion feature “Vortex,” and the Van Morrison tune “Moondance.”

Mark Walker, the director of bands at Troy University, said that all of the pieces in the show are “incredibly difficult and just super, super exciting.”

“I think it’s going to be a really great show,” Walker said. “It’s going to be exciting, and it’s going to be a lot of fun for the performers and the audience.”

Hannah Wiggins, a sophomore criminal justice major from Brewton, is a majorette who says SOTS is one of the greatest experiences she has been a part of.

“It is a lot of hard work, but it’s very rewarding,” Wiggins said. “The band is like a big family, and even though there are over 350 people, I feel like everyone feels important and special.

“I feel like our band is the best in the whole world.”

“I expect every Troy Trojan to be there for halftime, because if you’re not there, you are missing a great show,” Alday said. “This is going to be a halftime show that makes history.”

The band’s first performance will be at  Veterans Memorial Stadium, where Troy will face Austin Peay starting at 5 p.m.

For a schedule of this season’s football games during which “Sound of the South” will perform, go to www.troytrojans.com/schedule under “football.” Additional information about the marching band and other performances can be found at www.soundofthesouth.org.

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