Jimmy Carr never played in the band, yet each year he awards a scholarship to two members of the Ole Miss Pride of the South.
“Coming out of high school in Greenville, I was really fortunate to receive several small scholarships myself and, all combined, actually didn’t have to pay any tuition my four years of undergrad. Now, I’m in a position professionally where I’m fortunate to be able to give back to students who need the same sort of support that I needed coming out of high school,” said Carr, who earned undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Mississippi.
The Jimmy Carr State Farm Scholarship, created with the help of the State Farm Companies Foundation Good Neighbor Grant and Matching Gift Program, is awarded by Carr and his wife Amanda, a UM accountancy graduate. The scholarships are directed to an Oxford High School and a Lafayette High School graduate each year.
“The reason I picked the band in particular is that those students spend so much time and put their heart and souls and energy into it and get very little in return,” Carr said. “I couldn’t think of a more worthwhile group on campus to receive the support.”
This year’s recipients are LHS graduate Wes Brown, who plays the trombone, and OHS graduate Lee Easson, who plays the marimba.
“I appreciate the scholarship because it will help me through my first semester of college – a time when any aid, large or small, is greatly appreciated,” Easson said.
For Brown, the feeling is mutual: “It’s helping me reach my goal of graduating Ole Miss with a music education degree and becoming a band director one day.”
Carr says the Pride of the South is like a lifelong friend.
“Win or lose, the band is always there to lift spirits and provide extra enthusiasm and energy. The band adds so much to the atmosphere, the stadium and the Grove. The band is just one of those integral parts of my college game day experience.”
Ninety-five percent of Pride of the South Band members provide their own instruments, have spent years honing the skills they need to serve the university and work many hours in all kinds of weather to show up and perform on game day. The university’s current goal is to build a $2 million endowment to support band scholarships.
Gifts of all sizes combine to provide band scholarships. Individuals and organizations can make gifts to the University Marching Band Scholarship Fund by sending a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, Miss. 38655; or by going online at umfoundation.com/makeagift. For more information, contact Ron Wilson, development director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-915-1755.
November 2, 2015 | By Bill Dabney