Presenting The Co-Lin Blue Wave Show Band

Published 12:00 pm Sunday, August 31, 2014

JULIA V. PENDLEY / DAILY LEADER / Johnnie Ruth Carlisle (left) and Sonya Cowen spent six years compiling the history of the band and Colettes.

JULIA V. PENDLEY / DAILY LEADER / Johnnie Ruth Carlisle (left) and Sonya Cowen spent six years compiling the history of the band and Colettes.

Football is more than a game. It’s a production with as much effort put in by those off the field as those on. Spectators may head to the stadiums for the football, but during halftime bands all across the country claim the field to add their booming voice.Book Cover

For 85 years, the band at Copiah-Lincoln Community College has been doing just that, and to commemorate all those years of hard work, the Co-Lin Band and Colette Alumni Chapter has put together a 282-page book. Led by Johnnie Ruth Carpenter Carlisle and Sonya White Cowen, a six-member team worked diligently to provide a detailed history, complemented by photos, from 1928 to 2013.

Beginning with the “Co-Lin Jazz Orchestra” back when the school was Copiah-Lincoln Agricultural High School, the band grew to become a trendsetter among other marching bands.

The first Co-Lin band was recorded in the 1928-1929 annual.

The first Co-Lin band was recorded in the 1928-1929 annual.

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When Ralph Franklin created the Colettes in 1949, it was the first such group in the state and only the third in the nation. From 1948 to 1949, the band even featured a dog, complete with a hat and lights. Franklin’s shows even included fireworks.

“He had the most elaborate shows ever,” Cowen said.

“Those of us locally, our dream was to grow up and be a Colette,” Carlisle said.

Angela Furr, associate director of alumni affairs, said in the early years Co-Lin was both a high school and a junior college, so many people were in the band for six years.

“There’s an ownership, much more so than the students now,” she said.

One of the things, the women found the most interesting was that the original uniforms were maroon and white, rather than blue.

The book covers all the information available over the course of the years, and the group worked hard to try to include as many of the people who have participated in the band since the beginning.

Carlisle said the group picked up the project after former band director Clyde Wilson (1958-1968) died. He had been working on a book covering his years, and after his death, the alumni chapter was given his work in progress. The chapter felt the importance of the project and worked to complete it and expanding it to include all 85 years. The completed book has been dedicated to him, as well as all band and Colette directors and members.

The book covers the band and Colettes’ appearance at the Macy’s parade, on the Ed Sullivan Show, and at many other national events. It pulls from the clippings of newspapers, including The Times-Picayune.

“They were very well known across the state and the South,” Furr said.

The 2012-2013 band boasted over 70 members

The 2012-2013 band boasted over 70 members

The book is available for purchase of $50. The alumni chapter will have an autograph party at homecoming on Oct. 11. The Alumni Chapter will also hold their Hall of Fame and Outstanding Young Alumni inductions as well as their annual business meeting at the Fred & Jewett Taylor Chapel from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Purchases can also be made through the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Alumni Association.

Sharron Hailey Baird, Angela Berch, Zoula Hennington Huffman, Brenda Holder Roberts, Celeste Jones Williamson and Mark Hamilton also helped bring the project to fruition.

The Band and Colette Alumni Chapter also works to make sure the current band students are taken care of. Each year, they award a freshman the Clyde Wilson Scholarship and give a picnic during band camp.

Carlisle said she was impressed by the performance at practice during this year’s camp.

“It was already a great show, and they had only been together a few days,” she said.

The Co-Lin Blue Wave Show band performs at each home football game.