Ask Javorian Miller what his plans are after he graduates from Fairley High School in May, and his response will always be forthright and straight to the point.
“I would like to attend Jackson State University’s band camp in the fall,” Miller told MemphiSport during a recent interview.
Not only that, Miller, a percussionist and four-year member of Fairley’s marching band, has a direct message for the chief executive officer of Jackson State’s internationally-acclaimed Sonic Boom Of The South marching band.
“I would like for the college band director to know that I love my craft and I would give 100 percent every day for their band program.”
To get clear indication of why the 18-year-old Miller boasts lofty aspirations of continuing what has been a dazzling career as a member of arguably one of the top high school bands in the Mid-South, look no further than his unpredictable debut four years ago.
As Fairley band director James Thomas tells it, Miller was a once “scared” musician who, to his credit, has weathered an assortment of challenges, thus cleared a slew of hurdles in recent years.
“I have been one of Javorian’s band directors since he was in the ninth grade,” Thomas said. “I have seen Javorian’s growth from a scared little ninth grade boy to the 18-year-old young man that he is today. At Fairley High School, the band lives by a motto that we recite every day at the end of practice and that is D.P.A.C., which means DISCIPLINE-PRIDE-ATTITUDE-COMMITMENT. I have seen Javorian work hard at this goal his entire high school career.”
Miller’s rise as an accomplished musician came in the wake of arguably one of the most challenging moments of his young life.
A couple of years ago, it was discovered that Miller is a diabetic, something about which had taken a psychological effect on him.
“(Diabetes) caused him to feel like he really would not amount to anything,” Thomas recalled.
Consequently, Miller’s mother, Renatta Crawford-Malone, transferred her son to another school, a development that, given his immense progress in recent years, proved to be the wrong decision.
“I spoke with his mother and she told me that taking him away from Fairley High and the band was the worst thing she could have done,” Thomas said. “He spent that year at a different school. He quit band and really acted as if he had given up on life. So we spoke and she asked me if she could bring him back to Fairley and asked if he could get back in the band. I told her I really didn’t understand what happen…why she took him out and that we would love to have him back.”
Since his return to the school that enabled him to connect with his identity both as a member of the band and in the classroom, Miller managed to reinvent himself as the prolific musician he has become.
Now a little more than three months away from earning his high school diploma, he’s been labeled “college band material” by a number of his grandest supporters, most notably his mother and his close aunt, Bridgette Vaughn.
“He has always loved and had the compassion for music,” Malone said. “He expressed his feelings, emotions, and thoughts through music. He practices day in and day out with his sisters to make sure that every sound is to perfection. Music saved his life from becoming a wild child especially growing up around gangs, crimes and drugs. He has always had drum sticks in his hands as a little boy, beating on his grandmother’s pots and pans until he received his own drum set.”
Said Vaughn, his favorite aunt: “My nephew and I have a bond that can’t be replaced. It’s only me and my sister, Renatta Crawford- Malone, and he’s the only boy out of six siblings. We start off (each week) with church on Sunday, a phone conversation through the week, and family time on the weekend. His talent for music is crazy. He breathes it. In thinking of him and his music, I think of (the movie) Drumline. He always says, ‘Music is used for to reason…to rejoice and mourning.’ No matter what day it is, his passion for it will set the tone.”
And because of his much-anticipated return to Fairley, a school that, long before Miller was born, was deemed a basketball powerhouse in Memphis, the South Memphis inner city institution has now become popular for its marching band, a trend to which Miller undoubtedly contributed.
What’s next for this drumline sensation?
“Whichever school he attends,” Thomas said, “I know for a fact they will be very happy to have him.”
Thanks in large part to his DISCIPLINE-PRIDE-ATTITUDE-COMMITMENT.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson also covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.