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GHS senior jams with idol

Greenville High School senior Preston Thomas got a surprise visit from his idol Kenneth Williams on Tuesday at the GHS band banquet. Advocate Staff/Patty Vaughan

A person’s inspiration can come in many shapes and sizes.

On Tuesday, Greenville High School senior Preston Thomas’ inspiration walked right through the doors of his school.

At the Greenville High School band banquet, Thomas was asked to open the night with a solo on his saxophone. To his surprise, he was suddenly playing a duet with Kenneth Williams, a musician he had admired since the eighth grade.

“I would never have thought that my favorite saxophone player would just come behind me and jam with me,” said Thomas, who has been playing the saxophone for five years. “It was the greatest feeling I have ever had. Words can’t even explain how much I appreciate my teacher, (Naomi) Pryor for setting up the surprise.”

Williams, a teacher in the Bessemer School System, has been playing saxophone for 30 years and was honored to meet a true fan.

“When (Naomi) Pryor called me and told me about this entire situation, first of all, I was overwhelmed,” Williams said. “I always wanted someone to talk to and I always wanted another musician to understand where I was and there was nobody there.  As soon as she told me, I didn’t care what I had to do, I left school and made sure I got down here.”

For the last four years, Thomas has been listening to Williams’ music on YouTube, CDs and any other avenue he could get his hands on.

“It’s just it takes a lot of practice,” Thomas said. “I just pressured myself, and I want to get better. Listening to (Williams) made me want to get better even more, because all those notes and rhythms that I can do just by listening. It’s just amazing.”

Williams said it was refreshing to see a senior in high school be so passionate about music.

“I appreciate musicians, like Preston, who are continuing the legacy, especially with the saxophone,” Williams said.