Ensemble joins ‘Relay’ in 1st director’s memory

Published 11:15 pm Monday, May 4, 2009

For more than 30 years, Jerry Padgett gave his time and energy to help Lurleen B. Wallace Community College students make music in the LBWCC Ensemble. Friday, this year’s Ensemble students will make music in his honor.

Padgett founded the Ensemble in 1979, offering students at the college the chance perform and display their musical talents. He continued to direct the group until his death from cancer in 2002.

Friday, at the Covington County Relay for Life, this year’s Ensemble will provide live entertainment. Ensemble co-director Johnny Brewer said it is a perfect way for the group to honor Padgett’s memory.

“We just thought it would be a very nice thing for us to perform at the event in his honor,” Brewer said. “This is the first time we’ve done anything in relationship with Relay for Life, so it’s a really special thing to not only help that event but also help remember what Jerry did for this school and the ensemble.”

This year’s ensemble is 21 students who either sing or play a musical instrument, or both. The group performs at local high schools and civic organizations, and also plays a few public concerts each year. Last Friday, the students performed at the LBWCC Dixon Center in their “Family and Friends Night.”

Brewer, who was a member of the ensemble from 1992-93 under Padgett’s direction, said the program has two goals for its students.

“One, obviously, is to make music,” he said. “But the ensemble is also a tool that allows our students to hopefully grow as people. Music teaches teamwork and a lot of other life skills. We want to take musicians and make them better musicians, but we also want to take people and make them better people.”

The Ensemble’s students are each on a full scholarship, and several attended local high schools. There is a wide variety of instruments in the group, including guitars, drums, brass instruments and piano.

“I like being able to showcase my abilities,” said Candice Sosebee, a member of the ensemble. “I had never sung in front of anybody before coming here; singing was kind of my hidden talent.”

Students practice for several hours each day and perform in anywhere from 25-30 shows between January and May, Brewer said.

Brewer added that Padgett was a tremendous director and he is humbled to follow him as a director. Greg Aplin, who also was a student in the Ensemble under Padgett’s direction, serves as co-director.

“He was wholly devoted to the ensemble and to music, and to this school,” Brewer said. “He was very giving of his time. He always wanted to see his students go on and graduate, or to be successful at whatever they wanted to do.

“He taught here for 30 years and was basically an institution at LBW. It’s really an honor to me, and also very humbling, to follow in Jerry’s footsteps.”

This year’s ensemble members are: singers — Gaston Bozeman, bass, Sparta Academy; Erin Chavers, soprano, Andalusia High School; Andy Gibson, bass, Red Level School; Ashley Jones, soprano, Straughn High School; Landon Morgan, tenor, Brantley High School; Lindsey Oswald, soprano, Straughn High School; Dillon Worley, tenor, Straughn High School; Andrea Raines, alto, Red Level School; Taylor Wright, bass, Red Level School; Candice Sosebee, alto, Sparta Academy; Emily Walker, soprano, Andalusia High School; band — Chris Atkins, trumpet, Andalusia High School; Tom Kersey, guitar, Opp High School; Kathy Dowdy, piano, faculty; David Kervin, tenor saxophone, Straughn High School; Justin Gantt, trumpet, Andalusia High School; Robbie Yant, trombone, Pleasant Home School; Jeremy Grissett, drums, Elba High School; Clark Young, bass guitar, Greenville High School; Jeremy Hare, trombone, Andalusia High School; and Tyler Young, lead guitar, W.S. Neal High School.

For more information on the Ensemble, visit www.lbwensemble.com.