CHHS graduates flock to Sound of the South

Published 9:44 pm Tuesday, September 23, 2008

When the Troy University Sound of the South Marching Band takes the field, Johnny Long looks on with great pride.

“I feel like a granddaddy with 300 grandchildren,” the retired famed Troy University band director said. “I love every one of them because they are the best.”

And among “the best” are 13 former members of the Charles Henderson High School Blue Machine Marching Band.

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Kelsey Rogers, Nicole Mahone, Lexie Ryab, Haley Jordan, Johnny Moseley, Zach McLendon, Bryan “B.T” Teal, Shelby Barwood, Shatae Martin, Clif Hastings, Richard Nonnermann, Derek Daniel and Del Parker are proud members of the Sound of the South.

“It’s not surprising to me for Charles Henderson High School to be so well represented in the Sound of the South,” Long said. “Charles Henderson has long been a great source for the Sound of the South. That’s because the band produces outstanding musicians and who have been well disciplined. Amanda Ford is a great teacher and director and a good disciplinarian. Her students come to Troy University well prepared for the college experience and knowing what is expected of a member of the marching band. To be a member of the Sound of the South is an honor, a lot of responsibility and a great experience.”

Ford has a personal knowledge of the Sound of the South experience.

“When I was nine years old, I saw the Sound of the South for the first time and it was such a thrill,” Ford said. “My sister was in the band and it hit me right then that I have to be in that band. I was able to reach that goal and that’s how I met my husband, Ralph Ford.

“It’s an honor to be a member of the Sound of the South. Thousands of lives have been touched through the Troy University Sound of the South. There is a kinship that exists among the members and, for us, there is nothing greater than being a member of that band.”

Ford said she is excited to see so many former members of the CHHS marching band make it into the Sound of the South.

“This is probably the largest number of CHHS students in the Sound of the South that we’ve had in a long time,” she said. “I’m extremely proud of them and for them. We owe so much to Dr. Long. So many owe their careers as band directors to him. He has touched the lives of thousands of people. We are all very fortunate to have been a member of one of the nation’s greatest bands.”

Long doesn’t take bows for his long and storied leadership of the Sound of the South and he is quick to tip his hat to Ralph Ford, whom he said is one of the country’s greatest directors.

“You could look the world over and not find a better band director than Ralph Ford,” Long said. “These Charles Henderson graduates are lucky to have had Amanda Ford as their high school director because she always has outstanding bands and provides great leadership. And, they are fortunate to now be under the leadership of her husband. They will all do well in whatever they choose to do in life because of the leadership of Amanda and Ralph Ford. And the experience of being in the Sound of the South is like no other experience in the world. Being a member of the Sound of the South is an honor and they are to be congratulated.”