The Pride of the South has selected its drum majors for the 2017-18 season, and the trio is ready to face the demands that accompany the title with finesse and passion.
Jiwon Lee, Caleb Keathley and Faith Harris have been committed to the Pride of the South all together for 11 years and have been musicians for more than that.
The drum majors in the marching band are the leaders of the pack, the individuals found in navy blue and white among the 300-plus red-and-navy-clad Pride of the South members. They conduct during pregame, during halftime and in the stands, and are called upon to shoulder miscellaneous responsibilities before and after a football game. Their job is sometimes unglamorous and without fanfare, but on gameday under the blast of stadium lights, they have their moment to conduct.
A music performance major emphasizing in flute and violin, Lee is originally from Daejeon, South Korea. She claims Oxford as home now, growing up watching the Pride of the South at Ole Miss football games. She is a returning drum major.
“My mother was a professional opera singer before I was born, and even now, she continues to teach music,” Lee said. “Having music around me in my daily life was very effective, and my parents gave me the opportunity to study music as my best friend.”
Lee began on piano at five, learning violin the year after, and adding flute at age seven. She now also studies the gayageum, a Korean traditional stringed instrument and the danso, a Korean traditional flute. Her pursuit of music throughout her life was readily paired with a love for all things Ole Miss.
“I have always thought of Ole Miss as my home, and I have never regretted this decision once,” Lee said.
Keathley is a junior from Hernando majoring in computer engineering with an emphasis in electrical engineering, but he is no stranger to the world of music.
“When I joined band in middle school, I truly became part of a group,” said Keathley, a tuba and bassoon player. “In band, you are only as strong as your weakest member. That team mentality made me a stronger team player in all aspects of my life.”
Throughout his decade in band, Keathley has found meaning in the connection the band experience offers.
“I am passionate about music, but this passion stems directly from the many people and friends that music has put me into contact with,” Keathley said. “To me music is not a solo endeavor – it inspires positive lifelong connections with people.”
Keathley was a drum major at Lewisburg High School and was inspired to audition in college by the three drum majors he saw lead in his first semester at the university.
“The drum majors at the time, made it a point to form meaningful connections with all members of the band,” Keathley said. “Even though the three of them were seniors they tried their hardest to make the freshmen, transfers and everyone feel welcome in the Pride of the South. I knew that I wanted to try to one day help the band as well as they did.”
Harris, an exercise science major from Pearl, is a senior and has been with the Pride of the South for all four years. She was a drum major in high school and would find herself “just lost in the music.”
“Being able to represent the band is such a special opportunity, and I will give my all to bring positive recognition to this group of students that works so hard,” Harris said.
Her love for the band falls in line with that of Lee and Keathley; she is drawn to the bonds formed through the hours spent together.
“My favorite part about the Pride of the South is that everyone becomes like family after being together all season,” Harris said. “Some of my closest friends are in the band, and without the Pride of the South, we may have never met. Overall, it’s just a big group of friends who get together each weekend to cheer on our football team and have fun while doing it.”
Though Harris sings and has played different instruments throughout her childhood and young adult life, she recognized her commitment to music and call to leadership in her freshman year of high school when she was “captivated” by the musicians and conductors in a Drum Corps show.
Each drum major for this upcoming season is the product of a different background, but all three of these Pride of the South members exemplify what the band as a whole strives to represent: family, community, service and unwavering Rebel spirit.
Keathley’s final message to the students he’ll be leading come August 14 is, “Welcome to the family. I hope the Pride of the South can become as much of a getaway from school and the chaos of life for you as it has for me.”