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Ole Miss Band – The Pride of the South
University of Mississippi

Our History

The “Pride of the South” – A history of the Ole Miss Band

Prior to 1928, the UM Band was a small organization under the leadership of a selected student Director. In 1928, Chancellor Alfred Hume appointed Roy Coats as the first Director of Bands with faculty status at the University. Coats’ initial marching band used instruments, uniforms and equipment donated by the National Guard. Not until 1934 did the Rebel Band own full dress uniforms, purchased by funds solicited by the general student body.

The UM Rebel Band performed at the 1958 World Music Festival in Kerkrade, Holland; where they won first place with distinction in both concert and marching competition. That same year, the Rebel Band was invited by Jules Farber, U.S. Representative of the World’s Fair in Brussels, Belgium. The band traveled to Europe again in the summer of 1966 with the Concert Singers and selected theatre students. While on the Music Theatre Abroad program, they studied and performed at some of the world’s leading cultural centers.

The Rebel Band has performed numerous times on Regional and National Television and has officially represented the University of Mississippi at Gubernatorial and Presidential Inaugurations. The University’s Wind Ensemble has performed on tour throughout Mississippi and were the guest performers of the Mississippi Bandmaster Association Clinics in 1988, 2002 and 2010. The Ole Miss Wind Ensemble was invited to perform at the College Band Directors National Association Southern Regional Conference in 1988.

In 2010 Ole Miss hosted the College Band Directors National Association Southern Regional Conference, where both the Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Bands performed.  In 2010, the Wind Ensemble performed at the Mississippi Bandmasters Association State Band Clinic in Natchez, MS

In 2014, the Pride of the South Marching Band reached its largest enrollment in school history at 315 members.  In March, 2015, the Ole Miss Basketball Band was asked to fill in for the University of Kentucky pep band at the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament in North Little Rock, Arkansas, after they were snowed in and could not attend the tournament.

In April, 2015, Long-time band announcer and “Mississippians” Jazz Ensemble director, Dr. John McCauley, passed away at age 79.

In the fall of 2015, the University Band, along with many alumni celebrated the 25th year of dedicated service from current director of bands, David Willson.

On September 5th (Labor Day), 2016, the Pride of the South marched down Main Street leading the “Parade of Characters” at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.


Directors of the Ole Miss Band

Roy Coats 1928 – 1936
Michael Whitfield 1936 – 1946
Paul Page 1946 – 1949
E.F. Yerby 1949 – 1950
Charles V. Mangurean 1950 – 1952
Lyle Babcock 1950 – 1966 (Includes a two-year military leave of absence from 1950 to 1952)
Jim Ferguson 1966 – 1971
Luther Snavely 1971 – 1987
Tom Waggoner 1987 – 1991
David Willson 1991 – 2023
Tim Oliver 2023 – Present