It's a bad week to be Jesus, but another messiah is preparing for a truly wondrous holiday season, and a local high school made the guest list. J.P. Taravella High School will be the only Florida high school to send a marching band to Barack Obama's inauguration parade on January 20th. Now, the question is, what to play? Neil Jenkins, who has directed the band at this A-rated Coral Springs school since 1990, says the Marching Trojans are contemplating a medley of different fight songs from the state's major universities.
Also under discussion: Swanee River, Florida's state song from 1935-2008.
After all, this would be an instrumental rendition, so nobody would have to hear the song's original 1851 lyrics. Swanee River was supposed to be sung in the black English vernacular of the time, from the perspective of a black man who longs for life back on the plantation. Composer E.P. Christy nicknamed the tune the "Ethiopian Melody."
The lyrics have since been cleansed of pejoratives like "darkie."
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Jenkins says he's partial to the Ray Charles version of the song. Then again, so is Florida A&M, which will be the university marching in Washington on behalf of our great state.
-- Amy Guthrie