60 years later: SHS choir renews Henderson High alma mater

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – The choir at Starkville High School is preparing for a special performance during the upcoming Black History Program.

The students are bringing back a melody that, for almost six decades, had gone silent.

It’s been said that music brings us together.

In this case, it’s bringing two generations together blending education and history in perfect harmony.

This performance is almost 60 years in the making. Starkville High School Students singing the alma mater of the once segregated Henderson High School – where Black students attended before integration.

Jennifer Davis is the choral director at Starkville High.

“So we got a copy of the lyrics from what we think is one of the yearbooks,” said Davis.

But there was no recording.

“So from there we knew we had the right lyrics then we asked on social media if anyone would be willing to sing and record it. We got two recordings and from those two recordings we compared them,” said Davis.

So, Davis and her colleagues got to work composing the music and putting it on paper. Associate choral director Jordan Durham was there and her husband, also a music teacher, and Davis made the magic happen.

“The music theory knowledge that we learned in college I know helped him listen to it and then he and Mrs. Davis one night got together and they talked through the harmonizations and the music theories behind it,” said Durham.

What they didn’t know is the person who penned the lyrics is still in Starkville. Robbie Neely Jones was a librarian at Henderson High in 1967 when the principal gave her an important assignment.

“I still think about when Mr. Ward came in and gave me that directive. That’s what I called it. And said I need you to write a Henderson – and I say school song because that’s what the kids would say,” said Jones.

Jones was not a Starkville native, but her husband had graduated from the school and gave her some inspiration.

“Everybody was just so devoted to the school. And he gave me so much information that it was really not a task for me to put paper and pen together. It took me about two months to get it done,” said Jones.

And when her boss read the words.

“Oh, he loved it. He loved it. He said the next school assembly the students are going to learn this song,” said Jones.

Now, 57 years later another generation of students is getting ready to sing it at an assembly giving Jones’ lyrics new life.

“Being able to preserve a melody that otherwise might have gone away is just such a beautiful thing. There’s always going to be people that remember the Henderson High Alma Mater,” said Durham.

“I just think it’s awesome. I had a hand in that,” said Jones.

The choir will perform the song at the Black History program at Starkville High on February 29.

For 24/7 news and updates, follow us on Facebook and X

Categories: Exclusive Content, Featured, Local News