JXN Visionary: Dr. Roderick Little

As the Director of the Sonic Boom of the South, Dr. Roderick Little has the distinct honor of leading one of Jackson’s most celebrated groups day in and day out.

The Sonic Boom of the South is the world-renowned marching band of Jackson State University, the place where Little feels most at home.

Dr. Roderick Little, Director of Bands at Jackson State University.
Credit: Drew Dempsey

“I’m a homegrown Jacksonian,” says Little, who graduated from nearby Lanier High School before making his way to study at Jackson State, where he played the snare drum and served as drum major. “After I left JSU, I began to realize the monumental influence music had on my life. It was the vehicle I used to change my landscape and get a college education.”

Little set out to provide that opportunity for others by teaching music at Lanier High School, his alma mater.

“I wanted students to achieve something they didn’t know they could achieve,” he says. “A high percentage of my students graduated and received band scholarships in college.”

In 2012, the assistant band director position opened up at JSU, and Little jumped at the opportunity. He worked his way up the ranks and became Director of Bands in 2020, where he focuses on performance and individual student success.

“The general public sees our success with how we do on game day,” he explains. “I want to make sure my students have every little they need to be successful.”

In the short years since Little took the helm, the scholarship budget has increased, and he has actively participated in fundraising.

“We have been catapulted onto a national scale,” says Little. “We participated virtually in the Biden-Harris inauguration, have been on NBA TV, featured in YouTube’s recognition of HBCU excellence, and participated in the launch of Disney’s ‘Soul’.”

In 2021, Little was instrumental in rekindling the High School Battle of the Bands, sponsored by Visit Jackson, and several other events that lend vibrancy to the city.

“For me, being a native of Jackson, seeing the city thrive is personal,” he says. “The city shows support for us and creates opportunities for us to bring people here. JSU’s 2021 Homecoming brought out over 50,000 fans, creating an economic boom for the city.”

This story originally appears in the 2022 Jxn Tour Guide

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