Carnell Knighten remembered as a college band legend

Praises have been pouring in since Friday when Knighten fell ill on the Southern University campus and died shortly afterwards.  His sudden death shocked the University and hundreds of people who knew him or were taught by him.

"He was a music genius, an outstanding conductor, composer and arranger," said Director of Bands Lawrence Jackson. "He was a technician when it came to dissecting music scores and compositions."

Comments about him have flood Southern's Facebook page. "R.I.P. Brother Carnell Knighten, for you have touched the ears, hearts and souls of many my friend. A place in Gabriel's Orchestra awaits you, sir," reads an entry by Danny Wilson.

Visitation will be held until 7 tonight (the family will be present from 5 to 7) at Hall's Celebration Center, 9348 Scenic Hwy. Funeral services will start at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the F.G. Clark Activity Center on the Baton Rouge campus. Doors will open at 10 a.m. and there will be a Kappa Kappa Psi Fraternity Love Song at 10:45 a.m.

Knighten, 60, was a longtime assistant band director for Southern's famed "Human Jukebox" marching band. He was an arranger and composer for the band. Of late, he had been the director of technology and director of the woodwind symphony in the School of Music.

He had also been an arranger and composer for South Carolina State University's marching band.

In an article published in Halftime Magazine, Eddie Ellis, director of bands at SCSU said, "He was a tremendous musician, excellent arranger, and he's done so much for our band in these two years he was here. My condolences go out to his wife and his daughter and his two grandkids."

Called one of the greatest arranger's in the history of historically black college bands, Knighten earned a bachelor's degree in music and a master's degree in journalism from Southern.

Knighten was a band director at the Southern University Laboratory School and an arranger at Morgan State University. He was hired 1988 for the SU marching band by legendary former Director of Bands Dr. Isaac Greggs.

"He was a very good musician, very good," Greggs said. "He had a good ear. He could write and he could play...He was like a son."

Knighten is survived by his wife, Kathy Knighten, daughter and son-in-law Katoiya and Damion Bell of Arlington, Texas; mother and stepfather, Eloise and Alfred Thomas of Baton Rouge; and a host of other relatives and friends.