‘We’re doing this for everybody’: Sonic Boom of the South celebrates 50 years

Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 6:54 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Electrifying, energizing, and exhilarating.

That’s how many across the country are describing Jackson State’s Sonic Boom of the South marching band.

As they prepare to head to the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta next week to support the JSU Tigers, the Sonic Boom is also celebrating its 50 year anniversary.

Expect musical magic mixed with soul and some razzle-dazzle whenever the Sonic Boom of South performs.

“Our sound is like no other. We typically like to identify our sound as a dark rich sound, something that is definitely not imitated,” said Dr. Roderick Little.

“Our sound, our legacy, all of that implies into how we are impactful. We are a group,” said Zakiya Johnson, Sonic Boom band member.

Back in the 1940′s, Jackson State’s marching band was established, and it featured students from the college and Lanier High School.

“It was started in the 1940′s and got its formal start in 1948 with William W. Davis. Back then the band’s name was actually different. It was ‘The Small Band with the Big Band Sound,’” said Little

The current director of bands, Dr. Roderick Little, says the marching band grew in size and popularity over the years. Then in 1971, it was dubbed The Sonic Boom of the South by some students in the band.

“We bring a different type of energy. We bring a different type of swagger to band pageantry, to showmanship,” said Little.

Over the 50 years of carrying the Sonic Boom name, the nearly 300-member band has blossomed into a musical force to be reckoned with across the country.

They have performed at NFL games, parades, the NAACP Image Awards and Motown.

Earlier this year, the young musicians were featured in the “We Are One” virtual event in advance of the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Recently, the Sonic Boom appeared in a nationally televised Pepsi commercial.

“We love our fans. There are a lot of people who support us,” said Zakiya Johnson.

Band members Zakiya Johnson and Jon Paul Wokeara are honored to be a part of musical history and they’re committed to carrying on the rich legacy of the Sonic Boom for years to come.

“I only see us going up from here, especially with Coach Prime being here and giving the band and school a lot more exposure,” said Wokeara.

“We’re doing this for everybody. To entertain, to inspire and bring about Black excellence,” said Johnson.

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