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ECHS band members receive scholarships

Four Escambia County High School Blue Legion marching band members are making the best of an opportunity.

Shakur Simmons on French horn; Jahiem Bowens on trumpet; Jaelon Wilson on tuba; and Tristan Ford on tenor saxophone recently received music scholarships to colleges and universities.

Simmons received a $4,800 per year scholarship to Alabama A&M University; Bowens received a full tuition scholarship to Coastal Alabama Community College; Wilson received a $4,400 per year scholarship to Alabama A&M; and Ford received the Scarlet and Gray Band Scholarship to Huntingdon College.

All have different origins as to how they got into music.

“My mom one night, she said that I could sing, but I could sing so she put me in choir,” Simmons said. “I was in there with a lot of girls. Before I went to choir I went to band, and she (ECHS Band Director Hayley Canterbury) put me on trumpet and I really liked it.”

However, Simmons said Bowens and himself formed a friendly rivalry to see who could hit the high note.

“And I won,” Bowens quipped.

A short time later, Simmons was transferred to French horn, and a match was made.

“I tried it and I actually like it,” he said. “There aren’t many notes to it. I liked the sound of it.”

Bowens said he got into music through church.

“I taught myself everything I know,” Bowens said. “I first joined band here at the high school after hearing them play at football game.”

Bowens said he tried out for band, and the first instrument he tried out was the trumpet.

Through his competition with Simmons, Bowens soon became the section leader and used his first chair position to teach others the instrument.

Williamson said he joined band his fifth grade year.

“Ms. Canterbury put me on saxophone first,” Williamson said. “Then, I got on tuba because I had a good sound on tuba. It really gave me something to do, and got me out of the house. The tuba has kept me straight.”

Bowens sent in a tape; and Simmons, Williamson and Ford auditioned via Zoom for the scholarships.