In an interview this week Nathan Haymer, the director of bands at Southern University, was describing the excitement that came with performing at Super Bowl XLVII. As he listed the artists the band met – Jay Z, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson – the director interrupted himself.
“That was interesting, but I forgot,” Haymer said. “The most interesting and the most unusual venue was this past May. We performed for the fight of the century with Floyd Mayweather and (Manny) Pacquiao. Never has a band performed in that type of venue.”
Mayweather invited the Southern University band, better known as the “Human Jukebox,” to perform for his grand arrival before the opening press conference, where the band announced him with “Nobody Does It Better.”
This Saturday, that band will have nine minutes at halftime to wow those in Sanford Stadium. It will be the first time the band — which has played at Super Bowls and other impressive venues – has performed in an SEC stadium.
“Pull your phones out. Turn on your recorder. Bring your camera,” drum major Keith Morgan said. “You’re not going to want to miss the halftime show.”
Georgia’s game contract with Southern actually included the stipulation that the visiting team’s band play at halftime.
“The SEC is so huge as far as football,” Haymer said. “I had no idea that they paid attention to the pageantry of bands especially what Southern University band would bring to the table.”
The band creates a new set every week, collecting and blending music from all genres and all decades. He said that any performance including music from Michael Jackson is always a crowd-pleaser. Though, Haymer reiterated, it doesn’t matter what song is being played as much as the way the band plays it.
“It’s all in the delivery,” Haymer said. “You have to deliver it right for them to appreciate it. So that’s what we do.”
So what can fans expect from the acclaimed performers this week?
“I would love to tell you, but that would ruin it,” said Morgan. “We’ve got something special for you all.”
Haymer equated being a band member to being a football player in the process previous to freshman year. Like a football coach, Haymer recruits, holds summer camps for 500+ high school students, and often knows of future members years before their Human Jukebox careers.
But being in the band isn’t like football in all aspects. While Georgia’s football team is posted up in the hotel on Friday night, resting before the game, the Human Jukebox will be working— and recruiting.
The band will practice and perform at Langston Hughes High School in Fairburn, Ga., where the band director is a graduate of Southern University.
“One thing about our band is that we’re building off a legacy, and we keep a tradition here,” Morgan said. “It’s about the next generation because that’s who’s going to carry out that legacy.”
Normally, a game day starts at 7:45 a.m. for the Human Jukebox, in order to fit in an 8 a.m. practice. But where most of the games on Southern University’s schedule are 4:00 p.m. CT or later kick offs, their matchup with Georgia is five hours prior.
Alarms will be set for 5 a.m.
“That’s nothing to us,” Morgan said. “Early mornings and late nights.”
So when the second quarter clock hits 0:00, Haymer and Morgan both advised anyone in attendance to not leave their seat—unless it’s to get a better view.
“I find it highly offensive that fans are getting up and going to get popcorn, going to the restroom, or getting whatever concession they need,” Haymer said. “You can do that during game time. At halftime, we demand and command attention and we’re just a different type of band because we focus on entertaining the crowd.”
SEE THE HUMAN JUKEBOX PERFORM BELOW: