The Marching Southerners

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Marching Southerners
The Marching Southerners Logo.png
SchoolJacksonville State University
LocationJacksonville, Alabama
ConferenceCurrently ASUN Joining C USA IN 2023
DirectorDr. Kenneth G. Bodiford
Assistant DirectorsMr. Clint Gillespie and Dr. Jeremy Stovall
Members556 (2019)

The Marching Southerners is the marching band of Jacksonville State University in Alabama. Composed of students from all over the country, the Southerners and Marching Ballerinas perform for thousands each season.[1]


The first band at Jacksonville State Normal School was formed in 1923–24.[2] At that time, students only attended the school for two years and there was no full-time director, which hindered growth of the band in the early years. In 1930, the college was renamed Jacksonville State Teachers College, reflecting an increased role in higher education for the institution.[3] The Great Depression and World War II put development of the band on hold.

After the war, Walter A. Mason became head of the music department at the college. A veteran, he turned to fellow Army musician J. Eugene Duncan who he asked to become the band's first full-time director in 1948.[4]

The Marching Southerners were the 2021 recipients of the Sudler Trophy, the highest award for collegiate marching band.[5]

Music and marching Style[edit]

John T. Finley took over the director position in 1951[6] and immediately made changes to the band's musical and visual style. Finley removed the sousaphones, cornets and small-bore trombones, and replaced them with trumpets and bass trombones: instruments more usually associated with orchestras. The most radical instrumental change was the adoption of the C.G. Conn 20-J upright recording bass as the band's lead tuba, and Jacksonville State remains the only university marching band to use this heavy concert tuba on the field.[7] Other musical changes included a departure from military-style marches in favor of slower, more dynamic, orchestral and symphonic, Broadway and Latin jazz pieces.

Visually, the band abandoned military-style block drill in favor of precision marching and wide-open company front formations: designed to achieve uniformity in step height and body carriage, whilst the company front formation helped to project the sound of the band. Finley also adopted a dance line as a visual focus instead of the majorette lines seen in more traditional marching bands, christening them the Marching Ballerinas.

Primary music arrangers for the Southerners include David L. Walters (1960s-early 1990s), Mark Fifer (1995-2004), and Justin Williams (2005–present), as well as percussion program head Clint Gillespie (1997–present).

The name "Southerners"[edit]

In 1956, the Marching Ballerinas were organized, and the band began attracting more attention. The band received its name, the Southerners, in 1958.

Incidentally, Norman L. Padgett is credited with naming the band. The band's charter president, Harold Summerville, class of '60, of Bowden, Ga., recalls, "On April 21, 1958, I presented a letter of appreciation to Norman L. Padgett. It was signed by Dr. Finley and [me] at the beginning of band rehearsal that day thanking [Mr. Padgett] for his submission of the name The Southerners."[8]

Despite the commonly used name ("The Marching Southerners"), according to the JSU Manual of Style and Usage, Point 7, the official name of the band at Jacksonville State is simply "The Southerners": the "Marching" title only being applied to the Marching Ballerinas.


  • 1948 J. Eugene Duncan[9]
  • 1951 John T. Finley[10]
  • 1959 John Knox (interim director)
  • 1961 David L. Walters[11]
  • 1991 M. Scott McBride[12]
  • 1994 Kenneth G. Bodiford[13]

Notable performances[edit]

1965 – Inaugural parade for U.S. President Lyndon Johnson[14]

1976 – National Bicentennial Celebration Parade in Philadelphia, PA[15]

1996 – 70th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. A segment of the Southerners' performance can be seen in the opening scene of Episode 9.08 of Friends ("The One with Rachel's Other Sister"), which originally aired on Nov. 21, 2002.[16]

1998 – First performance at the Atlanta Bands of America Regional at the Georgia Dome[17]

1999 – B.O.A. Grand Nationals at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis[18]

2002 – B.O.A. Grand Nationals at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis[19]

2006 – The Marching Southerners celebrated their 50th anniversary with a performance that included 1,500 former Southerners alumni, during halftime of Jacksonville State University's college football game against Samford University.

2012 – The Southerners led the New Year's Day Parade in London, England, which also kicked off the 2012 Summer Olympics celebrations and Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.[20]

2016 – The Southerners played on the U.S.S Missouri in honor of the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.[21]

Additionally, the Southerners perform regularly at the Bands of America contest in Atlanta, and they host a Bands of America contest in Jacksonville, Alabama.

Show Summary (1956-2021)[edit]


Year Show Title Repertoire
1998 Firebird / Big Noise from Winnetka / Nessun Dorma / Malaga
1999 Dance Movements Dance Movements | Vespers | Shostakovich 10th Symphone/Finale
2000 A Night in Birdland Birdland / Harlem Nocturne / Strawberry Soup
2001 A Southerner's Odyssey: Space, Sea, and Sand Selections from Holst's "The Planets" / Watermark/Land of Make Believe / Lawrence of Arabia/Samson & Delilah
2002 Pictures of Spain Pictures of Spain / Selections from "Carmen" / Malaguena
2003 A Night at the Opera Phantom of the Opera / Bohemian Rhapsody / Nessun Dorma / Pagliacci
2004 Remembrance Southerner's Hits arranged by Mark Fifer / Time to Say Goodbye by Francesco Sartori and Lucio Quarantotto / Remembrance arranged by Mark Fifer
2005 Muy Caliente
2006 Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

(50th Anniversary)

2007 Higher, Faster, Louder
2008 From Russia with Love
2009 Of Thee I Sing
2010 From Sea to Shining Sea
2011 Fire and Ice
2012 I'll Fly Away[23] Selections from Star Trek by Michael Giacchino / Enter The Galaxies by Paul Lovatt-Cooper / Moondance by Van Morrison / Fly Me To The Moon by Bart Howard / I'll Fly Away by Albert E. Brumley / Over The Rainbow by Harold Arlen / Defying Gravity by Stephen Schwartz
2013 One More Time One More Time, Chuck Corea by Gene Puerling / A Mis Abuelos by Arturo Sandoval / Habenera (from Carmen) by Georges Bizet / Spirit of the Bull / Malaga by Bill Holman / Malagueña by Ernesto Lecuona
2014 Salvation is Created: A Journey from Darkness into Light O Fortuna by Carl Orff / Dies Irae (from Requiem) by Verdi / I'm Gonna Live Till I Die by Hoffman, Kent, and Kurtz / Death and Transfiguration by Strauss / Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral by Wagner / Gloria (movement 3) by Rutter / Choral Finale (from Ninth Symphony) by Beethoven / Salvation is Created by Tschesnokoff
2015 Celebration Festive Overture by Shostakovich / Overture (featuring “Marriage of Figaro,” “William Tell,” and “The Barber of Seville") by Justin Williams / The Best is Yet to Come by Frank Sinatra / Tribute by Justin Williams / New World Symphony by Dvorak / 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky
2016 Heroes: Lost and Fallen Selections from Independence Day by David Arnold / Swing, Swing, Swing by John Williams / Honor by Hans Zimmer (from The Pacific) / Heroes Finale by Justin Williams / Battle Hymn of the Republic
2017 Angels Among Us Fly to Paradise by Eric Whitacre / Resplendent Glory by Rossano Gallante / Are You Ready for A Miracle by Art Reynolds and Benny Hull / Angel by Sarah McLachlan / JoyRIDE by Michael Markowski / 160bpm (from Angels and Demons) by Hans Zimmer / Hyfrydol Hymn by Rowland H. Prichard
2018 When I Think of Home From Now On (from The Greatest Showman) by Benji Pasek and Justin Paul / And All That Jazz (from Chicago) by Fred Ebb and John Kander / Largo (from the New World Symphony) by Antonín Dvořák / Malagueña by Ernesto Lecuona
2019 Earth, Wind, & Fire Let There Be Peace on Earth by Jill Jackson and Sy Miller / Earth for Flute and Piano by Takatsugu Muramatsu / Windsprints by Richard Saucedo / In the Stone by Earth, Wind, and Fire / September by Earth, Wind, and Fire / Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel / Day of Wrath by Justin Williams / Metropolis 1927 by Peter Graham
2020 No show due to the COVID-19 pandemic
2021 Fate of the Gods The Battle by Hans Zimmer / Venus by Robbie Van Leeuwen / Watermark by Enya / Clock Tower Parade by Thomas Bergesen

Related competitive units[edit]

There are no organized competitions for college marching bands in the Southeast, so the Marching Southerners do not engage in direct competition with other college bands. However, Jacksonville State University sponsors several competitive marching and pageantry units that draw their membership in whole, or in part, from the marching band:


  1. ^ "The Jacksonville State University Marching Southerners". CNN. October 2, 2012. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
  2. ^ Sawyer, Effie White. First Hundred Years (PDF). p. 24. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  3. ^ Higher Education Partnership (2007). The Scholarly Gourmet: A Collection of Recipes from Alabama's Public Universities. The Scholarly Gourmet. p. 99. ISBN 978-0980002706.
  4. ^ Sawyer, Effie White. "First Hundred Years" (PDF). Jacksonville State University. Centennial Committee.
  5. ^ "JSU's Marching Southerners claim prestigious Sudler Trophy". Retrieved February 14, 2022.
  6. ^ "Timeline - 1935 through 1960". Jacksonville State University Website.
  7. ^ "Marching Southerners' secret weapon is rare bass instrument". The Anniston Star. September 8, 2012. Retrieved February 14, 2013.
  8. ^ Wilson, Randy. "Southerners Opening Season with New Uniforms". Jacksonville State University Website. JSU News Bureau.
  9. ^ CULBERSON, MARZELL (1948). Mimosa 1948. Jacksonville, AL: Jacksonville State University.
  10. ^ Kughn, Sherry. "JSU News".
  11. ^ "Dr. David L. Walters | David L. Walters Department of Music | Jacksonville State University".
  12. ^ "Mimosa 1999 :: JSU Yearbook Collection". Jacksonville State University.
  13. ^ "Dr. Kenneth Bodiford | David L. Walters Department of Music | Jacksonville State University".
  14. ^ Higher Education Partnership (2007). The Scholarly Gourmet: A Collection of Recipes from Alabama's Public Universities. The Scholarly Gourmet. p. 99. ISBN 978-0980002706.
  15. ^ Sawyer, Effie White. "First Hundred Years" (PDF). Centennial Committee.
  16. ^ Higher Education Partnership (2007). The Scholarly Gourmet: A Collection of Recipes from Alabama's Public Universities. The Scholarly Gourmet. p. 99. ISBN 978-0980002706.
  17. ^ "Banding together at Jacksonville". The Chanticleer. October 23, 2014.
  18. ^ Smith, Buffy. "Marching Southerners: JSU's #1 Recruiting Tool".
  19. ^ Knight, Abby. "Grand Nationals Competition To Feature Marching Southerners in Repeat Performance".
  20. ^ Marching Southerners to visit London – Arts & Entertainment Archived February 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Thorton, William. "JSU Southerners performing at Pearl Harbor anniversary this weekend".
  22. ^
  23. ^

External links[edit]