Breaking with tradition as it closes in on its 125th anniversary on the Purdue campus, the Purdue “All-American” Marching Band will have three drum majors for its 2010-11 season including the first African-American selected to lead the band.
Returning drum major, Rich Marzullo, a junior from Stamford, CT, heads the trio selected Friday, April 30, in tryouts at the Band’s drill field. The two newly selected drum majors are Aurie Swartz, a sophomore from Charlestown, IN, and the band’s first African-American drum major Cherrie Lemon, a sophomore from St. Louis, MO.
During its long history, the band has traditionally been led by two drum majors. Director Jay Gephart cited exceptionally stiff competition as the reason for the expansion.
Lemon is just the sixth woman to hold the post in nearly 125 years of the band’s history on campus. Until 1973, men made up the entire band because of the program’s ties to the Reserve Officer Training Corps. Before that date women only performed with the band as majorettes. The first woman to be selected drum major was Fort Wayne native Anne Woods in 1991-92, followed by Danville native Cathy Tuttle in 1993-94.
Stephanie Swierczek, from Aurora, IL, helped lead the band for two years, 2001-02 and 2002-03; Danielle Donovan, of Dwight, IL, was a drum major in 2003-04; Melissa Linker in 2005-06.
Marzullo, Lemon and Swartz will lead the band when it participates in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in November, and will help the band department kick off the celebration of its 125th year on music on campus in 2011.