POPLARVILLE - Two of Mississippi''s top drum majors lead the Spirit of the River marching band at Pearl River Community College.Freshmen Allen Grace and Michael Boyte each served as drum major for the Mississippi Lions All-State Band - Grace in 2009 and Boyte in 2010.The Mississippi Lions All-State Band is an elite group of high school musicians selected by audition to represent the state at the annual Lions International Convention."Lions Band drum majors can go pretty much where ever they want to go," said Dr. Kyle Hill, PRCC director of bands. "Having one is a rarity, much less two in one year. It worked out great for us with both of them from our district. We''re real excited about the talent they have, and they''re both excellent musicians."Boyte, 18, is the son of Krista Lynn Guice and Laron Boyte, both of Hattiesburg, and graduated from Sumrall High School. He was drum major there for two years."One of my friends was a drum major and my sister was a drum major," he said. "I thought it would be interesting. I enjoyed it very much."Grace, also 18, is the son of Shannon Grace of Hattiesburg. He was drum major at Hattiesburg High School for three years."I thought I could lead my band in a better direction," he said about his decision to try out for drum major as a high school sophomore.Grace was drum major with the 2009 Lion''s Band. The band traveled to Minneapolis, Minn., where the band won first place in parade competition for the 26th time."Being around a group of students who have the same passion for music is great," he said.The 2010 Lion''s Band, led by Boyte, again took first place at the International Lions Convention in Sydney, Australia. The win was the band''s seventh first place in the past eight years - the band wasn''t allowed to compete after five consecutive first place wins."It allows you to get around people who have the same desire you do - to make a group as good as it can possibly be," Boyte said.Boyte plays saxophone and Grace trombone in concert band. Each spins a mace or signal baton, a dimension PRCC has not fielded in recent years."It''s a real specialized skill that''s not taught very much any more," Hill said.The pair have known each other since they were in the eighth grade when Grace and his mother moved to Sumrall from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. They also have studied together under Chris Lyman, former drum major at the University of Southern Mississippi."We''ve worked with each other in lessons," Grace said.Both plan to major in music education at USM after graduating from PRCC.Joining them in leadership of the Spirit of the River are band section leaders who serve as assistants to the band directors by helping students learn marching drills and music.Section leaders are Sarah Moseley of Picayune, flute; Maggie Worrel of Waveland, clarinet; Stephen Berry of Columbia, saxophone; Dale Beech of Carriere, mellophone; Lacey Odom of Poplarville and Emily Reid of Kokomo, trumpet; Marcus Lindsey of Picayune, trombone; Dwight Blakely of Hattiesburg, baritone; Patrick Pavlisick of Saucier, tuba; Joshua Reynolds of Columbia, snare drum; Spencer Windham of Poplarville, tenor drum; Chelsea Thomas of Carriere, bass drum; Justin Allen of Oak Grove and Caren Johnston of Kiln, pit.In addition to Hill, the band is under the direction of Mike Bass, assistant director; Kara Fleming, String of Pearls director; Missy Bliss, color guard director; and Kevin Scott, percussion instructor.
Submitted by braswell on September 14, 2010 - 2:43pm