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GHS band to channel King of Pop this season

Members of the Greenville High School Marching Band praticed this summer from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. in an effort to learn a wealth of new material for the challenging fall season.

Members of the Greenville High School Marching Band praticed this summer from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. in an effort to learn a wealth of new material for the challenging fall season.

For the Greenville High School Marching Band, this upcoming fall will prove much more than the same old song and dance.

Brett Johnson, band director of the Greenville High School Marching Band, said that he and his students utilized every iota of sunlight this summer as the various sections—including percussionists, the dance team, majorettes and color guard members—toiled in preparation for one of the most exciting, and challenging, halftime shows yet.

“We have something new for the halftime performance, and it’s something that I’ve never done before as a director,” Johnson said. “We’ve done calypso music, island music and Bruno Mars, but we’ve never done someone who’s spanned decades before.  We’re doing a Michael Jackson show, and our goal was to touch every generation.”

Similar to how Jackson transcended multiple generations with his music, the Greenville band looks to tap into multiple eras of Jackson’s music, beginning their halftime show with a Jackson 5 classic, “I Want You Back,” as the opener.

Following their second number, “I’ll Be There,” the band will transition into some of his more difficult solo work, including the timeless “Bad,” “Thriller” and “Billy Jean.”

But as anyone halfway familiar with Jackson’s legacy knows, the music is only half of the show.

“Michael Jackson was known for his music, but also his innovative dance work that he added into his shows, so we’re going to incorporate some of that into our halftime show,” Johnson said.

“We’re going to start with Bad and transition into Thriller.  I think it’s going to get the crowd really pumped up.  Our goal is to adapt the entire music video to Thriller.    The major dance routine is almost a full minute of dancing, and we’re going to try to incorporate as much of the main theme as possible into the show.”

The band has other Michael Jackson-themed surprises in store for the coming fall, but they’ll hit the field without previous drum major Mary Margaret, who is now a member of the University of Alabama Million Dollar Band.

Margaret was one of five students who signed Division I scholarships to universities such as the University of Alabama, UAB and Alabama State.

Ultimately, though, the football season is only a prelude to multiple band competitions that are held across the state.  This year’s season will see the band traveling to Daleville and Rehobeth to compete, where the band has a high mountain to climb to reach 2015’s expectations.

Last year’s group set a record in terms of off-the-field performances as the Greenville High School Marching Band earned the most superior ratings in band competitions in the band’s history.

Fortunately, Johnson believes this year’s band is in similarly capable hands.

“Our drum major this year is a gentleman named William Ward, a senior who was actually a section leader the previous year,” Johnson said. “And he’s looking to do some music stuff in college, as well, though his school is to be determined.”

The band will hit the field for the first time Thursday evening during the Greenville High School Tigers’ fall jamboree with Stanhope Elmore.

“It’s a scrimmage game, and we use the same philosophy as the football team,” Johnson said. “It’s an educational experience for the football team, and it’s an educational experience for the band.

“We’re going to teach them how to march to the stadium, and learn some of the stand music once we’re in the stands.  We’re not going to debut our halftime show on a scrimmage game, so they’ll have to come to the first regular season game for that. But it’s just a learning experience where we go through the motions and make sure everything is good to for that first game.”