Marching Southern Sounds prepare 2021 show

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

ALABASTER – The Thompson High School Marching Southern Sounds were hard at work during its preseason band camps starting on Aug. 2.

The band camp was split into morning and afternoon sessions where the more than 200 students worked hard learning new music and coordinates to put on an eclectic show.

This is the first year with new Director of Bands Graham Bennett taking over the leadership spot after Phillip White, the former director, moved on to a new job with the University of Alabama.

“I have never been happier with my career until this job,” Bennett said. “This community, administration, coaching staff and everyone has been so open and perceptive to this direction. It was already there before me, which made it easier to step in and move forward with these kids.”

Bennett said he was excited for the opportunity and was looking forward to putting together this year’s show, which carries the theme “Swans.”

Bennett explained this theme would explore how much has developed starting with “Swan Lake” and moving through more modern artists like Beyoncé and Sia.

“These swans represent the development of music from the classical style into the more modern style,” Bennett said. “Visually, you go from the traditional musical marching style into more modern hip hop dance. It will make for a really exciting and competitive show.”

Students participating extracurricular activities like marching band faced a wide variety of challenges over the past year. Bennett said this made them more excited.

“I think they are more excited than ever to do what would be more of a traditional approach to the season,” Bennett said. “Of course, we keep things safe with hand washing, maintaining distance and other things. We are able to rehearse, which was the goal. Their mentality has changed and the excitement of everything coming up is adding to that excitement.”

One of the best parts of this band camp, according to Bennett, has been the support from the school’s football team and coach Mark Freeman.

“Coach Freeman brought the varsity football team over to watch part of our rehearsal today,” Bennett said. “It was great to have that kind of support. To have a coaching staff that cares that much is just so special.”

The band has made significant progress even before the start of the school year.

“We already have three-fourths of the show on, along with our pregame show,” Bennett explained. “We are going to keep adding more for crowd involvement as well. These kids are doing great.”

Bennett credited the success the band has already experienced to a strong support system.

“I wanted to give a shout out to our football team. As high a caliber as our team is having that support is great,” Bennett said. “We are excited to bring our A-game for them to support them every night. I am just ecstatic to be able to have the honor to take this position. I am honored they have entrusted this wonderful position with me and my staff. I can’t thank our school administration, band staff and community more.”