Nearly 400 strong, MSU’s Famous Maroon Band readies to rock Davis Wade

Contact: Aspen Harris

Members of the Famous Maroon Band rehearse in the band hall as MSU President Mark Keenum listens
MSU Associate Director of Bands Clifton Taylor conducts a performance of "Hail State" during a visit by MSU President Mark E. Keenum, who looks on from the right. Each year, Keenum addresses the dedicated student members of the Famous Maroon Band who report to campus early to begin practice prior to the start of the fall semester. (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—With anticipation filling the air this week for Mississippi State’s first home football game Saturday, the air is also filled with the monumental sound and preparation of the state’s largest college band.

Nearly 400 members strong, the university’s Famous Maroon Band has student representation from 173 high schools and 17 states, with 65% from inside the Magnolia State.

“We’re off to a great start with this year’s edition of the Famous Maroon Band. We’re excited once again to be able to lead MSU fans at Davis Wade Stadium in support of the Bulldogs,” said Director of Bands Elva Kaye Lance.

The first halftime show on Saturday [Sept. 3] will center on video game music scores, with instrumentals from the games Halo, Mortal Kombat and Undertale. The band also will be joined for the first performance by 286 high school band students for MSU’s annual High School Band Day.

In addition to Lance, the band is under the direction of Associate Directors Craig Aarhus and Clifton Taylor.

The second halftime show of the season will include the music of Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson and Earth, Wind and Fire, with later performances featuring the band’s annual patriotic show and homecoming.

“Associate Director Dr. [Clifton] Taylor and our Percussion Professor Dr. [Jason] Baker arranged the music for us as they have in years past, and FMB Auxiliary Coordinator Ms. Sarah Parker has been working with our guard to create a visually and musically entertaining experience to bring to Davis Wade this fall,” said senior drum major Kazarian Shumpert of Booneville.

Off the field, members of the band also excel in the classroom. With an average ACT score of 27, the band includes 25 high school valedictorians and 6 salutatorians. At the university level, the 2021 group had 87 students with a 4.0 GPA in the fall semester, while the band’s overall GPA was 3.22. Also, 52 students made the Deans’ List, and 124 made the President’s List.

When asked what it meant to be a part of the Famous Maroon Band, senior drum major Jolina Druetzler of Humboldt, Tennessee said, “Upholding the Mississippi State standard of excellence in both the classroom and on the football field is something I am proud to continue with some of my closest friends. The music we make together is beautiful and means so much for so many people whether they’re prospective, current or former students and alumni.”

The Famous Maroon Band is part of the MSU College of Education’s nationally accredited Department of Music. For more, visit or

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