Manassas High School was the second Black high school in Memphis history to have a marching band, and the original band director of the school was none other than Jimmy Lunceford, the man who went on to become a legendary big band star of the 1930’s, fronting a band largely composed of former Manassas students. Later, Emerson Able mentored many fine Memphis musicians at Manassas, including jazz stars Frank Strozier and Booker Little, as well as Al Green’s drummer Howard Grimes. Although Manassas has suffered from low enrollment in recent years, it appears that its band program is on the way back up, as evidenced by their appearance in this year’s Southern Heritage Classic Parade, 9/14/13
#056 Manassas High School Band @ Whitehaven Christmas Parade (by John Shaw)
Memphis, and its marching band was originally founded by the well-known band leader Jimmie Lunceford. Another Manassas band director, Emerson Able, was recently honored with a star on Beale Street. The schools produced a number of great musicians, including trumpeter Booker Little, saxophonist Frank Strozier and pianist, singer and songwriter Isaac Hayes.
Manassas High School in North Memphis is the second-oldest Black high school in Memphis (it was originally a county school, as it was outside the city limits of Memphis). It has a long tradition of excellent music which began when Jimmie Lunceford was hired to be the band director of the school. Lunceford would go on to fame and fortune in the world of big band jazz, along with one of his former students, drummer Jimmy Crawford. Great Memphis musicians such as Emerson Able, Isaac Hayes and Howard Grimes attended Manassas High, and although the school has suffered from low enrollment in recent years, its football program was recently featured in a documentary called Undefeated. Here the Manassas High band marches in the Southern Heritage Classic Parade in Orange Mound, Memphis TN, 9/8/12