North Lincoln High School’s award-winning Band of Knights marching band will unite with 14 other high school bands from across the country this weekend to perform in the internationally televised National Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C.
Only a select group of bands are chosen to march in the annual event, NLHS Director of Bands Neil Underwood said.
Parade officials scour each state for the best groups, and they selected the Lincoln County school in April 2012. Three additional North Carolina high school bands, all from Raleigh, were later chosen.
“It’s a pretty big honor,” Underwood said, “so we’re excited.”
The Band of Knights, along with each of North Lincoln High School’s various other musical groups, including its choirs, Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band and Jazz Band, have acquired multiple awards throughout the years. Each of the groups received superior ratings at competitions this past year, Underwood said.
More specifically, since 2003, when the school first opened and Underwood moved from East Lincoln High School to the new Lincoln County campus, the Band of Knights have played twice at Carnegie Hall in New York City, three times at Bands of America Grand National Championships, California’s Hollywood Christmas Parade and numerous other locations across the country, the school website revealed.
Underwood noted that 120 students of the 140-member group will be attending this weekend’s parade. The group will leave today and return Tuesday, taking a few extra days to tour the world-renowned Smithsonian and other historical sites.
During the parade, the Band of Knights will perform the “Star-Spangled Salute,” a song that marching band music arranger Marty McCartt first crafted for Underwood’s ELHS band students in 2000, he said.
The seasoned band director has been instructing young generations of melodious talent for more than two decades, combining his passion for music and “working with kids,” he said.
The group will march an estimated 2.5 miles past the Capitol building and National Mall as well as through downtown D.C.
At $500 per person, the costly trip forced most students to look for financial sources outside of their own wallets. Earlier in the school year, students performed a benefit concert and held a BBQ fundraiser, Underwood said.
Additional students obtained sponsorships from family, friends and local businesses.
While the Lincoln County marching band has never before been invited to participate in D.C.’s Memorial Day event, Underwood said he took the group to perform at the World War II Memorial for the 60th anniversary of the war’s end in 2005.
A delayed broadcast of the National Memorial Day Parade is set to air 12 p.m. June 2 on WSOC-TV. For more information on the Band of Knights, visit bandofknights.com.
“We’re excited to represent the school, Lincoln County and our state,” Underwood said.