A Timeline of The Ole Miss Band
In 1933, the United States Government placed a National Guard Unit at Ole Miss, making possible the beginning of a band that had grown to forty pieces by 1936 and had taken its place among the outstanding musical organizations of the South.
Since its organization four years prior, the Red and Blue band played for all campus celebrations, home football games, and other activities of note. In addition, it accompanied the team on several of the longer trips. The band played for the game with the St. Louis Billikens in the previous season, and contributed its bit to the tilt with the Tulane Green Wave in New Orleans the year before. The musicians have made several trips to Jackson, Clarksdale and Memphis during both football seasons. Two of the highlights in the band’s history were the trips to Memphis last year and to Jackson this year. At the Cotton Carnival in 1935, the Red and Blue outfit was selected as the official band for the celebration. By special request of Governor White, the Ole Miss band was chosen the official band for the inaugural festivities in Jackson, playing a concert in the Jackson municipal auditorium and also rendering the grand march for the inaugural ball.
Other featured incidents in the life of the band are its Spring concert tours, staged last year for the first time. These tours extend for a week each year and carry the band into most of the larger cities in Mississippi.
Director Roy Coats, who has conducted the band since its organization, said that an order had been placed for ten new uniforms, enabling the total membership to be swelled to fifty pieces.
Under the direction of Mr. R. N. Whitfield, a man who had been on the campus only one year, but who’s shown by his incessant hard work that through him the resources of the Ole Miss band would be unlimited. He gained not only the respect but the loyalty and cooperation of every member, which is the only requirement for the success of a band.
On a tour in this year, Mr. Whitfield carried the Band to Blue Mountain, Corinth, Aberdeen, Columbus, and Mississippi State where they played afternoon and night concerts. Through Mr. Whitfield’s efforts, a program was put into progress that would increase the Band from fifty-two members to approximately seventy members, which would have made the Ole Miss Band one of the leading bands in the South at the time.
Closely allied with every progressive activity of our campus life is the Ole Miss Band. So prolific has been the growth of that organization that it now compares favorably with outstanding musical units of its kind in the South. So cooperative has this band been in activities on the campus it has lately been called “The OLE MISS Hub of the Rebel Spirit.” Besides worthy performances at football games on and off the campus, the band has designed an innovation that has brought additional attention to the University. Guest directors from outstanding high schools of the state have been brought to the campus together with outstanding high school musicians to participate in local concerts. The enrollment of the band now stands at sixty. Two years ago it was forty. Plans are now under way to increase the personnel to eighty next session. The University Band is the official 114th Field Artillery Band of the Mississippi National Guard and is also part of the local R. O. T. C.
These connections, together with University scholarships, offer splendid inducements to interested musicians. Mr. R. N. Whitfield, director of the band, is serving his second successful year with the unit. Under his able guidance the organization has achieved phenomenal advancement in performance, organization, and size. The future of a band directed by a gentleman so progressive and so genuinely interested in having an Ole Miss Band second to none in the South is indeed bright. Lead by a group of four crack drum majors, the Band has no fear of being outshone in any parade. Morgan Roseborough, head drum major, leads the parade of high-steppers. Miss Brownie Burton, this year’s most attractive addition to the Band, has brought cheers from thousands by her graceful prancing. Webb DeLoach (President of the band) and Jack Kirkpatrick, being two of the most expert twirlers in this section, complete the group.
The Ole Miss Band, recognized as one of the outstanding musical organizations of the South, has maintained its versatile policy of presenting something new at every appearance and has delighted the public from Chicago to New Orleans in its round of trips and tours this year. Its program of activities began with participation in the American Legion National Convention as the Sons of American Legion Band of Lafayette County. During football season It appeared with the Ole Miss team at seven of the nine scheduled games, habitually actuating Its motto, “Hub of the Rebel Spirit,” at Memphis, New Orleans, hattiesburg, and the University. The band has presented varied and colorful concerts on the campus and in the vicinity of Oxford. Climaxing achievement of the concert band was the series of performances before the Mississippi Bandmasters Association at its four-day annual clinic held on the campus.
These excerpts from prominent newspapers indicate the esteem In which the organization is held: “The decision to take the University of Mississippi Band to the American Legion Convention at Chicago is good news. . . . The Ole Miss Band, already one of the finest in the South and which will be increased to eighty-five pieces this year, will serve to show thousands of persons from all over the country what kind of a state university there is In the Magnolia State. So does the rest of the country learn anew that Mississippi Is a modern, up and coming state.” — Editorial in Memphis Commercial Appeal. “. . . One of the finest exhibitions ever given here.” — George Keefe in New Orleans Times Picayune. “. . . Very Impressive and we mean impressive at Its most impressive.” — Walter Stewart in the Commercial Appeal. “. . . Most colorful feature ever shown on the field.” — Purser Hewitt in Jackson Clarion Ledger. “The band has rapidly risen to one of the top places among the bands of its size in the nation.” — Jack Hancock In Jackson Daily News.
The University Band maintains an active strength of eighty-six members. Striving for perfection, the student management and the director of the organization have concentrated efforts and finances to bring about national recognition in both drill and concert performances. Through their efforts the Rebel Band has been acclaimed the flashiest and the best-drilled band in the entire South.
This was the first year that all members of the band had a headshot and their name printed in the yearbook. You can view that page here.