By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times
Adrianna Hendrix (Anna to her friends) just got a nice Christmas surprise. The Cullman High School senior recently found out that she is one of 325 students chosen from across the United States as a member of the Bands of America (BOA) Honor Band in the 2013 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, Calif.
Anna submitted a video audition at the end of the summer for a National Honor Band (Bands of America under the direction of “Music For All,” which is a national non-profit organization that promotes marching bands and orchestras).
“’Music For All’ is a band and color guard made up of high school students from all over the United States,” explained Anna’s mom, Camilla Hendrix. “The band has about 300 members and the color guard has 30 members.”
The goal of the organization was to bring together the nation’s top performers of high school marching bands and have them perform together at the Tournament of Roses Parade and other events in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.
Anna is one of the 30 nationwide color guard members. There will be students from every state in the nation. “We fly out to Pasadena on the 27th of December and stay until Jan. 4,” said Hendrix. “This will literally be a trip to ‘take time to stop and smell the roses’. We are so excited.”
Her mother and CHS principal, Dr. Elton Bouldin, kept her invitation to join the Bands of America band a secret for a couple of weeks so that Dr. Bouldin could surprise her with roses and the plaque that Bands of America sent to her. He announced it to her and the student body at one of the football pep rallies recently.
The conspiracy went even further than that. Her mom hijacked her email account and her dad went home every day to intercept the mail from the mailbox so that they could keep it a secret until the pep rally.
“I didn’t have a clue what Dr. Bouldin was calling me out for. At first I thought he was going to say congratulations for marching this summer with Music City (drum and bugle corps), then he started reading the plaque and I realized what he was telling me,” said Anna. “I knew they were supposed to notify me by email so I was not expecting a public notification in front of everybody. My parents kept that secret really well — even my Mom. The only person they shared it with was Dr. Bouldin.”
“I even saw the roses in the office that morning,” she laughed. “I thought Mrs. Heptinstall’s husband had sent her roses to school because he does things like that for her. I had no clue that they were for me.”
“Spinning that flag is absolutely the love of her life,” said her understandably proud mother. “In addition to the performances in the parade and other events she is also going to help work on one of the floats.”
Bands of America has been sending Anna video lessons of the choreography so that when she gets to Pasadena she already knows what her performance consists of. When band members from across America arrive, they will take the time to rehearse together and polish the show, putting the final finishing touches in place.
The BOA Honor Band is a 325-piece ensemble with wind and percussion instruments, and both flat and dance teams. Anna will spend a busy week in lovely southern California, rehearsing, and performing at the Tournament of Roses Bandfest and at Disneyland, doing special activities and making a featured appearance in the world-famous parade.
The parade will take place Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, at 8 a.m. (PST). According to a press release from Music For All, the 5.5-mile parade will be broadcast on ABC, the Hallmark Channel, HGTV, KTLA, NVC, RFD-TV, and Univision. It will also air in more than 220 international territories and countries.
By now Anna is experienced at performing in front of big audiences. “I’ve been lucky enough to perform in front of some very large crowds,” she said. “Our high school band has performed in some of the larger Thanksgiving day parades and I have performed with Music City twice at the Drum Corps International Finals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. All of those events had a lot of actual people in the audience but I have never marched at an event that was going to be televised worldwide with an audience as big as the Rose parade. I’m going to keep a tight grip on that flag,” she grinned.
“I’m excited about the Rose parade,” Anna said. “I love choreography and spinning and the rush you get before and during a performance. The parade route is long so I’m hoping the excitement will make it seem like only a mile.”
“To be selected for this unique opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for these students and a testimony to their excellence and achievements,” said Music for All President and CEO, Eric Martin in a press release. “The Rose Parade is one of our country’s national pageantry treasures, and the 2013 Honor Band members will be ambassadors of America’s bands, and of their states and communities.”
Anna was philosophical about her submission. “I was hopeful but I knew there were a lot of applicants,” she said. “I did my best to put together a good video audition and said a prayer. I asked God that if it would be a good experience for me to go to help open the door and if I didn’t need to go for any reason to shut the door.”
She does admit that now the reality has hit home, she has had time to think of little else. However, she does admit to one little problem, “I’m a little nervous about the plane ride,” she said. “I’ve been all over the United States with Music City but that was on a bus. This will be my first time to travel by air. I think it will be really cool to leave Birmingham at breakfast and be in LA for lunch.
“I’ve never been to California, so I’m really looking forward to being in a new city. We have two days after the parade and Tournament of Roses events that they are going to take us sightseeing. We will get to see the Hollywood sign and the Hollywood Walk of Fame,” she said. “I think it will be fun to see the Kodak Theatre and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. I’m hoping we might get really lucky and see Channing Tatum. If I do see him, I’ll send back his picture,” she laughed.
This has been a big year for Anna, and now this is a perfect finale for her senior year. She says that she has narrowed her college choices down to two schools. “I want to march wherever I go and hopefully be on color guard. I auditioned for Music City Drum and Bugle Corps again this past weekend and will be marching with them again this summer. Hopefully in the fall I will be marching in college. I haven’t decided on a major yet so that huge decision is still up in the air, but I have a little while to decide on a major so I’m still debating,” she said.