Lions All-State Band in concert at JCJC; defending international title in Hawaii

Written By: Teresa McCreery
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Date Submitted: 2015-06-23 19:16:01

ELLISVILLE – To defend an international championship title for the 30th year, almost in a row, is no easy task for the Mississippi Lions All-State Band and the 32-staff and organizers. Students like South Jones senior and third-year Lions All-State Band dancer, Scarlett Sandifer said they plan on giving it their very best and bring home another win.
“It’s not about winning it’s about doing our personal best,” Sandifer quickly pointed out. “If I’m giving my personal best then the group is better. After that, it’s in the judges hands,” said Sandifer. 
The 145-member band filled with the state’s best and smartest musicians have been preparing for another stellar performance at Jones County Junior College for a week. They all have expectations of earning first place at the Lions 98th International Convention and Parade of Nations on June 25 through July 1, in Hawaii, and continuing an incredible winning streak. The public is invited to see part of the show at a free concert at JCJC on Wednesday, June 24, at 2 p.m. before the group leaves for Honolulu at 9:30 p.m.
Leading the Lions Band is Hancock County’s Jacob Fletcher as the Drum Major. The senior said he is excited about the opportunity to lead this year’s band after playing in the brass section the last two-years.
“I’m ready to get to Hawaii and show the world what Mississippi is made of and how hard we’ve worked to give them an incredible show,” said Fletcher. “It’s a lot of hard work marching in the sweltering heat then practicing for concert band and the Lobby Show from 6 a.m. until 10 or 11 at night, for the last week. I think this group has the ambition to do great.”
Jeff Cannon, the director and manager of the Lions All-State Band and retired band director from Pearl said besides the International Parade of Nations Marching Competition and participating in the International Flag Ceremony, the Mississippi Lions Band will be playing a full patriotic concert at the USS Arizona Memorial.
“Our concert that will be held at JCJC will be transitional concert music leaning towards the patriotic side with ‘Stars and Stripes for Ever, ‘America Forever,’ which was written the night of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and America the Beautiful!,” said Cannon.
Graduating senior from Oak Grove, Yulianna Jimenez said she especially loves the selections from “West Side Story” which is featured in the parade competition. She said she is eager to see Hawaii and has cherished the memories of traveling with her “Lions friends” over the last three years.
“I enjoy making music with people who love music. Even if we didn’t go anywhere I’d still want to be a part of this group,” said Jimenez.
This is the second year Matthew Lewis of Lawrence County has been selected for the percussion section. The first chair snare drum player has his sights set on making music as a career. Being a part of the Lions Band is helping him rise to that higher level.
“I enjoy all of it; the audition challenge, the music and the physical demands. This band is beyond good and everyone on the drum line gets along great. This is a whole new level of performance for me,” said Lewis.
South Jones Director of Bands, Artie Adams will be making his fourth appearance as the Concert Band Director and his former assistant director of bands, Matthew Pickering will be Adam’s assistant concert director. Adams said it is an honor to be a part of a “phenomenal” musical group.
“I am looking forward to this performance because they are so good, they make me tear up. They’re performance is so beautiful!”
The Lions All-State band members and staff will have the opportunity to explore the beauty of Hawaii between performances. A luau, snorkeling, sail boating off Waikiki Beach and touring Pearl Harbor are just a few of the activities planned during their week in Hawaii before they return to JCJC on July 1.


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