Fayette County Bands
 

The "Pride of the Tigers"


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Fayette Bands History


Nineteen forty-one marked the beginning in which the Fayette County High School Band was organized on a continuum basis. Attempts prior to 1941 to initiate a successful instrumental program failed to materialize. During that year the dreams of the community to have a band became a reality with the acquisition of a full time band director. John Morgan Brown, whom was serving as principal at Fayette County High School during that time, solicited and attained the services of Lee Kimball as the first Director of Bands.

The band was surprisingly large for a new band! Approximately fifty-eight students belonged to the 1941 edition of the Fayette County High School Band. Membership was representative of both grammar and High School grade levels. There seems to have been no official uniform in the beginning but the instrumentation for the new band was fairly adequate.

In 1942 the band decreased in membership to forty-one but to compensate for this there were five majorettes added. These majorettes were attired in completely white uniforms. The band had not yet acquired a formal uniform for their performances.

Kimball served through the 1943 school term, which brought to a close his tenure as Fayette’s first full time band director. Thirty-six students performed in the band that year with three majorettes. The impetus provided by that initial beginning proved sufficient to insure the successful continuation of a band at Fayette County High School.

The band operated through the years of 1944 and 1945 without the services of a director. The unavailability of leadership resulted in the membership diminishing to twenty-seven with three majorettes, in 1944. No substantial changes in 1945 in a progressive direction occurred since a director was still not available. The general consensus is that the progressive development of the instrumental program went through a somewhat dormant period during these two years.

A revitalization of the band began in the 1946-1947 school term when Wayne Shoemaker was given the responsibility of leadership. The membership jumped to forty-seven students who wore white sweaters and trousers as a uniform. There were five majorettes to front the band. Band Mothers initiated a fund drive to secure forty-one orange and black uniforms for the following school year.

Mrs. Cora Lee Brown and Euell Scott served as co-workers with the band in 1948. Thirty-nine members wore the first formal black and orange uniforms tailored in a military style. These uniforms were provided by funds contributed in 1947 by the community. The Band Mothers provided the workers to contact those in the community who wished to make a contribution to the support of the band. The total number of uniforms purchased with the funds raised was forty-one. This represents only one of many efforts, which the Band Mothers undertook, throughout the development of the band, to insure its success. Through the years they worked long and hard to gain improvements.

Beginning in 1949 the band experienced a change in leadership for three consecutive years. In 1949 Mr. Lee DeRoberts conducted the forty-five-member group with ten majorettes The 1950 leadership was provided by band master Bill Williamson. That year there were seven majorettes and thirty-three band members. The following year, 1951, Euell Scott returned to direct the band of thirty-two members and three majorettes. He conducted the band through 1952. The 1952 band consisted of twenty-nine members and three majorettes; which earned an "Excellent" rating at the State Competition Festival.

Miss Betty Tinsley directed the band from 1953 through 1956. Membership started with forty-four in 1953 and grew to sixty in 1956. The majorette corps averaged ten girls during that four-year period. In 1954 the Band Mothers made a town survey for proposed gas users and made $716.00 with which they bought eleven new uniforms. These uniforms in addition to the twenty purchased in 1953 provided the band with thirty-one much needed uniforms since the original ones were approaching ten years in age.

Through the years of 1953 and 1956 activity increased in statewide functions, which pertained to such events as district contest, state contest and all-state festival. Interest in these statewide activities tended to generate enthusiasm on behalf of the band members. This was evidence by the high ratings consistently earned from district and state contest judges through these four years. The ratings earned from 1953 through 1956 at the State Band Competition Festival under the direction of Betty Tinlsey are as follows:

1953 – Superior

1954 – Superior

1955 – Superior

1956 – Excellent

(Superior is the highest possible rating with excellent being the next to highest.)

In 1957 Jerry Bobo became the director of the band. The Fayette County High School band grew from fifty-two in 1957 to one hundred thirty. The Majorette corps ranged from six to ten girls in his first thirteen years.

In addition to the High School Band an Intermediate Band was organized in 1967 with a membership of sixty-seven. The development of this group greatly enhanced the instrumental program at Fayette High School. Through their efforts the proficiency level rose greatly in the Advanced Band. The most attractive feature of that particular phase is that a greater number of young people received the opportunity to experience a music education.

Through the generosity and interest of parents and the entire community, the band has experienced many successes. Many wonderful people throughout the county have assured the success of the band through every avenue of support. Enough cannot be said on behalf of all the people of Fayette for the assistance they have given in every way to provide young people the opportunity to gain a truly outstanding musical experience. In return the young people who play in the band have reflected a genuine feeling of gratitude to all who have so generously supported them by striving to put forth their very best effort on every occasion.

The Fayette County High School Band has earned high honors for their performances at the State Competition Festival through the years. Under the tutelage of Mr. Bobo the band ratings were as follows:

1957 – Superior

1958 - Superior

1959 – Superior

1960 – Superior

1961 – Superior

1962 – Superior

1963 – Superior

1964 – Superior

1965 – Superior

1966 – Superior

1967 – Excellent

1968 – Superior

1969 – Superior

The name "Pride of the Tigers" was given to the band in a news article written in the local newspaper edition in the 1963 football season and they have carried the title ever since.

In 1991 Mr. James Hall filled the position of Band Director upon Mr. Bobo’s retirement. Under Mr. Hall’s leadership, the bands grew, and maintained a standard of excellence unmatched by many band programs. The senior level Band has State Competition since 1956 and has won 36 Superior ratings and 5 Excellent ratings in that time.

Miss Melissa McCrady was brought on board in 1993, as Assistant to Mr. Hall, and became the Middle School Band Director in 1994. Under her direction, the Middle School Band Program had a total of 220 members, which includes the Advanced Band, which was formed in 1995. That first year, the Advanced Band earned an Excellent rating at District Competition. They had a Superior rating at District and Excellent rating at State Competition in 1996, and earned all Superiors at District and State in 1997 – quite an accomplishment in three short years!

Following the resignation of Mr. Hall in December 1996, Mr. Bobo graciously served as Interim Director for the Fayette High School Band Program.

Effective July 1, 1997, Mr. Brent Tolbert, graduate of the University of Alabama, took on the FCHS Band Leadership.

In July of 2005, Mr. Kevin Thomas took the reigns of the Fayette County High School "Pride of the Tigers" Band. Under his tenure at FCHS the band is the first and only High School band to ever play for a University of Alabama Men’s Basketball game televised nationally on CBS. The band has also participated in the gubernatorial election parade of Gov. Bob Riley. Aside from the numerous parade and special events the band has performed in the band has also maintained an outstanding record at District and State Concert Festival. Along with this outstanding record the band has many students that have achieved the honor of being selected to the Alabama All-State Band Festival each year. The band also maintains an average of 25% of the school population being involved in the band at the High School each year.

In the same month and year the Middle School Band program welcomed Mrs. Susan Seymour to the program. With Mrs. Seymour at the helm the band continues to maintain a status of excellence that is unmatched by most middle school band programs. Along with continuing to achieve Superior ratings at District and State Contest the students maintain a very active performance schedule. The Advanced band plays at all of the Home football games along with an occasional away game. The bands also give an annual Christmas concert along with our spring performances. The FMS bands continue to have tremendous participation and selection in the Alabama All-State Band Festival.