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GSU student from Hill to perform on Letterman

POSTED: March 13, 2013 11:57 a.m.
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Jose Morales practices at Georgia Southern University.

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By Caitlyn Boza

Most young musicians can only dream of performing on late night television.
But for Jose Morales of Richmond Hill, dream will become reality Thursday night when he and three fellow Georgia Southern University drummers will accompany country music singer Elizabeth Cook on the Late Show with David Letterman.
“I never, ever thought I’d get the opportunity to play on David Letterman or on national television,” said the 22-year-old senior communication arts major. “If you would have told me before high school that I would get to travel the country playing drums and go on Letterman, I would have said you’re crazy.”
He and the other Southern Pride drummers will help Cook, a GSU alumna, perform her rendition of the gospel song “If I Had My Way, I’d Tear This Building Down,” live tomorrow night at the CBS studio in New York City.
“I think this is great exposure for Jose and for the band,” said GSU professor of percussion Matt Fallin. “Elizabeth Cook being an (alumna) and having four members of the band back her up on national television, I think that’s big time for the school and for the music department in particular.”
GSU marching band director Colin McKenzie, said Morales was chosen to perform based on his seniority, leadership and academic performance.
“Jose has been a terrific member of the drum line for a number of years. He’s been on the leadership team for the drum line, and he’s served in an extensive way for a number of years with the marching band, so it seemed only right that he get to go,” said McKenzie.
Morales and the other band members departed for New York on Tuesday and will rehearse their performance with Cook today. Morales, who’s been to the Big Apple once before, said the group will have some time for sightseeing, and that he’s especially excited to catch a show on Broadway.
Back home, his family and friends will host parties Thursday night in both Richmond Hill and Statesboro to watch him perform, he said.
“My parents are above and beyond super proud. They’ve been telling absolutely everyone they know.”
Morales has been playing the bass drum since his freshman year at Richmond Hill High School, where he played in the marching band directed by Charles Westman.
“Jose was always the guy that was fun to work with, worked hard and lifted up other people around him,” said Westman, who is now director of bands for the Burke County school system. “I’m just so happy for him. Bravo.”
After graduating from RHHS, Morales went on to join the GSU marching band and has been on the drum line for all four years, which, according to Fallin, is no small feat.
“It’s not easy to make it on the drum line. Each year we have 45-50 students try for only 35 spots. For Jose to make it every year and do well, it’s an accomplishment.”
After graduation, Morales plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career in child counseling.

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