Saving the Bands: Musician aims to give back to Jackson schools

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A local musician is on a mission to save band programs in the Jackson Public School District. Antwone Perkins hopes through a few gestures of kindness, he’ll spark a trend in the community to help rebuild struggling music programs.

“When I was a kid my mother couldn’t afford to buy me an instrument. It hurt so bad because I always wanted to march with the band. So I knew when I got older, I wanted to do something from a philanthropy standpoint,” he said.

As an adult, Perkins went back to his high school alma mater with his first philanthropic act.

“I blessed the school with a saxophone to give to a random less fortunate child,” he said. “I presented them with the saxophone, and he gave me a hug actually. He told me that they actually needed it because there was a young lady that needed the horn and that there were a couple of horns missing from their section that they needed.”

The exchange inspired Perkins to do more as he witnessed a need across other high schools in Jackson.

“Lanier is currently rebuilding their band program, and this will be a great help to them and to a child that can’t, and I believe it will be a great surprise for them as well.”

One Friday afternoon, Perkins went to the home of the Bulldogs to donate a trumpet to the school’s band program, and he received a huge welcome that he never expected.

Band Director Antonio Bratton said it’s a challenge rebuilding a band program, and donations bring hpe.

“It’s frustrating, but you can’t give up. You know where it’s been and to get it back from where it is, you have to keep fighting and keep fighting and get more kids like Dontavis to be interested, and it’ll come together,” said Bratton.

Dontavius Davis said, “We don’t really have that many instruments in there, so this is an addition to something, and Boyer can receive more in the future.”

“We have to push the agenda to save this music. The bands are getting smaller, the choral music programs, and what happens is when there are budget cuts, music is the first thing to go, and we have to save it since Mississippi is the birthplace of America’s music. We have to save the music. We have to keep our music because we’re the originators. So if we teach our kids that they wouldn’t embrace fighting at schools, they’ll embrace picking up an instrument. They’ll embrace positivity through extra-curricular activities, so that’s important,” said Perkins.

The musician is challenging other musicians to donate old or new instruments to schools in need. Perkins said this is also just the beginning, and he’s developing a scholarship program for high school students who desire to study music.

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