SU mourns loss of Knighten
Published: Thursday, February 2, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 2, 2012 19:02
Current and former Southern University music students and band members, along with many from the university community, said their goodbyes to Carnell Knighten Wednesday at the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
Knighten, 60, was the School of Music's technology director and director of the university's woodwind symphony.
Knighten died last Wednesday.
Knighten began his career at Southern University earning a bachelor's degree in music and a master's degree in journalism. In his freshman year, he wrote his first composition that the band played in concert the same year.
Beginning in 1988, under former Southern University Director of Bands Isaac Greggs, Knighten served as an arranger, composer and Assistant Director of Bands for the Human Jukebox, and later became Director of Technology and Director of the SU Wind Symphony.
According to Chancellor James Llorens, Knighten was very instrumental in the grant-writing process and was very avid about bringing music technology to Southern University.
As of 2010, Knighten was also the chief music arranger at South Carolina State University. Many of his music students traveled from Orangeburg, S.C., to play at his funeral, which was held yesterday in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
To Justin Brooks, a senior criminal justice major and band member from Nashville, Tenn., Knighten's death came as a complete shock.
"I was shocked by the death of Mr. Knighten. As a director, he always strived for perfection. He was the greatest person I've met," Brooks said.
He was loved by everyone who crossed his path and known for his wit, knowledge, greatness, and also for his love and passion for the art of music.
Nakia Peck, a senior music education and band member from New Orleans, reflects back on his time spent with Knighten.
"We lost a great man. Once you understood Mr. Knighten, you understood something fine," said Peck." My only regret is that I didn't take full advantage of what he had to offer."
Marching band drum major Tevin Coleman, a sophomore history major from Alexandria, La., said that he was really inspired by Knighten.
"Mr. Knighten was a very honest, straightforward man. He would tell you nothing but the truth and had a great standard of excellence," Coleman said. "Mr. Knighten handled business extraordinarily well and was just an inspiring man to be around. As a director, he was by far one of the best I've met throughout my entire life."
His presence influenced all who knew him and had the chance to learn from him. Assistant director of Bands Nathan Haymer from Gulfport, MS said "Mr. Knighten was a great mentor and teacher—my teacher. I am very sad to see him go. I will uphold his legacy by making sure the Southern University Marching Band is always looking and sounding good, strict and on time."
Known around the music community as an outstanding musician, composer, music arranger, classical conductor and individual with great work ethics, Mr. Knighten's death is not only a loss to SUBR and SCSU, but to the entire HBCU community, being dubbed by all who knew of him and his music as a "legendary music arranger and musician."