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PrideoftheSouthlandFans of the Pride of the Southland Band are in for new music and surprises this season when UT’s beloved marching band takes the field.

The band will debut new music it will play in the stands for cheers and chants during UT’s August 31 season opener against Utah State.

“We’ve also added tunes that are more current and songs that students and fans can get into and sing along,” said Don Ryder, interim director of bands.

The band will have a surprise when the football team warms up but “fans will just have to wait and see,” Ryder said with a smile.

The September 6 game against Arkansas State coincides with the Medal of Honor Convention that will take place in Knoxville. The band’s performance will be dedicated to honorees. Country music star Lee Greenwood, at Ryder’s invitation, will sing the entire halftime show, including favorites such as “God Bless the U.S.A.,” “Stars and Stripes,” and “The Great Defenders.”

The 340-member band features 150 freshmen—its largest group of freshmen to date.

“Everyone’s been so welcoming and offered constructive criticism,” said Joseph Cole, a freshman trombone player who was drum major at Farragut High School.

HendersonPride of the Southland Band drum major Jessica Henderson, who is returning for a second year in the position, is only the second female to hold the top spot in the band’s 145-year history.

“We have so many new people in the band and it’s exciting that they learned all the music so quickly,” said Henderson, a senior. “The support of our alumni and the public has been awesome.”

During homecoming in October, UT’s first female drum major, alumna Kelly Bradshaw, will lead the band alongside Henderson.

Band members have been practicing for several weeks to get ready for the new season and in spite of numerous rain days are well ahead of schedule, Ryder said.

“Our big hope is that the students will really enjoy being a part of this great tradition,” Ryder said. “We want to have a great season. Ultimately, these kids would love to go to a bowl game.”


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,