Mr. Russell Boone, MVSC Band Director, attended the public schools of St. Louis, Missouri, playing in both the band and the orchestra in high school. He graduated Cum Laude from Lincoln University of Missouri and received a master’s degree from the University of Missouri. He has also done some work at St. Louis University and the University of Illinois. For a number of years, he was Drum Major, Music Arranger, and Drill Instructor of the American Legion Post 77 Drum and Bugle Corps of St. Louis, Missouri. This group has been in many times state champions and has represented the state in the National Championship. At the Chicago Convention in 1939, he won the trophy as best drum major in the National Parade. During World War II, he served in the Navy as a musician. In addition to playing duties, he was Drum major and Drill Instructor for the Negro Bands assembled and trained at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. Before coming to MVSC, Mr. Boone was Band Director and Music Instructor at the Douglas Junior Senior High School in Columbia, Missouri, where his band won top honors in state and out-of-state festivals and engaged in an extensive exchange concert program with other high schools. He is was member of the Mississippi Teachers Association, Phi Delta Kappa, College Band Directors’ National Association, and served for two years as Chairman of the Columbia Fine Arts Teachers Association. He is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated.
Under the leadership of Mr. Russell Boone, the Mississippi Valley State College Band changed the total thinking philosophy of what school bands should present within the total performance package. Breaking new grounds in contemporary concepts in band innovation under Mr. Boone’s leadership, the program was the first to break away from the traditional marching band cliché to the Drum Corp Style in 1961, by introducing “atmospheric ornamentation” and drill designs within the field show presentations. The halftime shows ran the gamut of standard marches, Show & Broadway musicals, classical excerpts, and popular tunes. Other accolades and accomplishments include the following:
New Uniforms, New Instruments, & New Music in his first year.
Lead Band of the Mississippi State Fair Parade
Hosted “First Annual Band Day District Festival” 1962 & 1963
500 Festival Parade – Indianapolis, Indiana May 28, 1962
Implementation of the College Swing Band
named band the “101 Piece” Marching Band 1963
Southeast Regional Concert Tours – 1962, 1963, 1964
500 Festival Parade – Indianapolis, Indiana, 1964
Tournament of Roses Parade – Pasadena, California January 1, 1965 (First HBCU to be invited)
Main Street USA Parade at Disneyland, January 2, 1965
He named the band the “MVC133” 1965 (Showing growth in membership)
Tournament of Roses Parade – Pasadena, California January 1, 1968 (First HBCU to be invited twice)
President Richard M. Nixon Inaugural Parade – Washington, D.C. January 1969 (2nd HBCU Band to Perform)
With his love for music and service, he led seventeen bandsmen 4 women and their assistant band director T.W. Tyler, along with their Music Department Chairman, F.P. Abraham and University President, Dr. James Herbert White, chartered the first HBCU chapter in Mississippi. Joining the ranks of other chapters of Kappa Kappa Psi in Mississippi, including the Epsilon Chapter of Mississippi State University, Beta Beta Chapter of the University of Mississippi, and Gamma Chi Chapter of University of Southern Mississippi, the Mississippi Vocational College (Mississippi Valley State University), received the charter of Delta Pi Chapter on May 5, 1962. Delta Pi, along with Tau Beta Sigma – Gamma Eta Chapter were the FIRST Fraternity and Sorority on the Mississippi Valley State University Campus at the time of the charter. Mr. Boone served as Director of Bands from 1960-1972. He later served as Chairman of the Fine Arts Department from 1972-7981 and from 1984-1987. In October 2019, Mr. Boone was honored by the Delta Pi Alumni Association with the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Silver Baton Award from the Kappa Kappa Psi National Office. Mr. Russell Boone died peacefully at his home in St. Louis, Missouri on September 10, 2020 at the age of 99.