Ohio marching band serenades Ozark church members with gospel music

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OZARK, AL. (WTVY) - I'm sure you know the saying: "No matter how far you go…there's no place like home."
For this Ozark native, that saying has never hit closer to home than now.

Robert Baxter lll, Band Director at Maple Heights High School, says "I am a native of Ozark, Alabama and we came to play at my home church St. Paul A.M.E Church here in Ozark. It was a great experience...the church loved it, the kids loved it, and we're looking forward to many more opportunities, maybe doing this again in the future."

Maple Heights High School is located in Maple Heights, Ohio near Cleveland.
Their marching band landed a spot in Alabama State University's 'Battle of the Bands.'

Shelby Eggleston, 12th Grader at Maple Heights High School, says "It was a good experience for us. It was a learning experience...We got to go against other bands and just see the talent that they have and showcase our talent as well."

Maple Heights' students say there is some truth behind the perception that being in the South is way different than being in the North.

"It's a new environment, it's a whole different ball game with bands just because show-style comes from down South so just being up North...it was kind of nerve-racking that we were going to go against them...but we held our own," replied Eggleston.

Tyler Matthews, 11th Grader at Maple Heights High School, says "It was fun! We got out there and showed Alabama what we do and showed how much hard work we put into everything."

The trip down South didn't end there...

"I said since Ozark is maybe roughly an hour and some change away from Montgomery...why not bring them kids home, bring them home and show them off to my community, my family, and my church home," replied Baxter.

"I was really happy for my director. He was coming home and it was good to perform in front of everybody. I like performing anyways so it was fun overall!" said Matthews.

Having a live marching band serenade church members is almost un-heard of.
Baxter says none of this would've been possible without the church's pastor...Fred Flowers.

"He likes doing, kind of, unorthodox things to get the church "livened" up. He was really welcoming and he loved having us here," replied Baxter.

Tionne Brown, Member of St. Paul A.M.E. Church, says "I enjoyed my time. I loved the music...I almost had the spirit! I cried a little bit because it was good to see my friend who I'd grew up in the YPD with. It was wonderful, I loved it."

"It was very surreal. Just seeing a lot of people that I grew up with and performing in my home church was a very surreal experience," said Baxter.

Maple Heights High School has been invited to four Mardi Gras parades for 2020.

Band Director Robert Baxter says once they return to Maple Heights…they'll start to prepare for Mardi Gras.

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