Brantley band members perform with Auburn University Marching Honor Band

By Haley Mitchell Godwin

A trio of Brantley High School Emerald Wave Marching Band members traveled to Auburn on Saturday, where high school students from all over Alabama received an opportunity to perform with the Sudler-Award-winning Auburn University Marching Band in the 17th annual Auburn University Marching Honor Band.

The Brantley students performed with Auburn’s band during the Tigers’ contest against San Jose State.
For Brantley senior Josie Knighten, a member of the Emerald Wave since ninth grade, the opportunity marked her second time participating in a collegiate honor band. She previously performed as part of the University of Alabama’s Marching Honor Band.

Knighten plays the bass drum and, while it is not set in stone, has entertained the idea of continuing her pursuit of music after high school with Troy University’s Sound of the South. Despite her band-related goals, she made it known that she remains a devoted Auburn fan.

“I plan on going to Troy for their athletic trainer program, but War Eagle always!” Knighten said. “Going to the Auburn University Marching Honor Band was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Auburn treats their band like a family and they always support one another. They were quick to help, and I met some of the sweetest people and had the absolute best time.”

Another Brantley senior, Alex Johnson, who plays the trombone, stepped out of his comfort zone when he successfully performed with the honor band in front of 87,000 people.

“I really liked the practice because we got to talk to and play with college students,” Johnson said. “Playing new music is always fun. (theclickreader) Being out on the field surrounded by thousands of people was terrifying, but I am glad I did it. It was a great experience to have my senior year before I am a college student.”

Jhalan Wiley, an Emerald Wave Marching Band trumpet player and a junior at Brantley, played with the Auburn University Marching Honor Band for a second time during his high school band career at the event.

“The Emerald Wave is a family and I get the same feeling when I am at Auburn,” Wiley said. “It felt like family as soon as we got there. Everyone at Auburn welcomed us with open arms, asking us if we were ok and if we needed anything. I was able to connect with a lot of college students and we are all still communicating. It was a great, new experience that opened my eyes to what it really feels like to be in a college marching band.”

Wiley foresees his future college days including being part of the marching band, concert band, and pep band at Auburn where he will be studying early childhood and elementary education after high school.

Kylie Blackstock, director of Bands at Brantley, said she is grateful her students have the opportunity to attend collegiate honor band performances like the one at Auburn.

“This Marching Honor Band offers the unique opportunity for high school students to experience taking the field to perform alongside the Auburn University Marching Band for an audience of over 80,000 people,” Blackstock said. “Many universities across the state host marching honor bands like this one, and each one that Brantley students choose to participate in gives them additional music opportunities outside of their high school ensemble. It is also a great way to experience college marching band if students have aspirations to continue their music career in college. I am proud of these Brantley band students for going the extra mile and trying something new.”

More information about the Auburn University Marching Honor Band can be found at