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Band director with HBCU roots making history at LSU

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BATON ROUGE - For nearly 75 years, Southern University's “Human Jukebox” Marching Band has been internationally renowned for its stunning performances and iconic displays.

The widely respected band, creating its “often imitated, never duplicated” reputation under the historic direction of Isaacc “Doc” Greggs.

Kedrick Taylor, SU's current director of bands, is keeping that tradition going for the next generation of Jaguar musicians.

“There’s nothing like being there in person,” Taylor said. “Dr. Greggs viewed the band as a picture. He was like, 'wherever you go, this band will be able to perform and put on a show.'” 

About 10 miles down the road, a friend of Taylor is making history at LSU.

“I know the director of the marching band, Dr. Kelvin Jones. We go way back... We kind of started our career together," he said “It’s surreal for us to be at this point right now. It will definitely be like old times on a different scale."

And the respect is mutual.

“What’s really cool is that I’ve known him really since we were both just undergrads. I have a whole lot of respect for Ked,” said Dr. Kelvin Jones, director of the Tiger Marching Band. “Even when we were teaching high school, we would share ideas. We would share insights."

Over 125 years, the Golden Band from Tigerland has grown from a small 13-piece ensemble to hundreds marching in purple and gold.

In 1965, the marching band admitted its first Black musician, and now - more than 55 years later - its first Black band director.

“It’s not lost on me when I talk to people in the community that this is something they never thought they’d see,” Jones said.

A former band member of another historically Black college, Jones graduated from Jackson State University.

From one esteemed band to another, Jones said the music will remain the same despite the schools’ historic differences.

“You play four notes, people are getting excited, and it was the same way when I was at Jackson State,” he said.

With the coronavirus pandemic causing unprecedented changes to the 2020 football season, the two friends may face each other in a way the city has never seen with LSU and Southern scheduled to face off in September 2022.

“It will definitely be like old times, but on a different scale of course,” said Taylor, smiling at the prospect of the Jags and Tigers facing off in Tiger Stadium.

“To have that moment of pageantry, of school spirit, of this energy, and that’s all of Baton Rouge there. That’s a win,” Jones said.


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