Mr. Carnell Knighten – Celebrating the Life of a Great Man

by Zeta Eta – KKΨ, South Carolina State University |

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #0099FF;”]M[/dropcap]r. Carnell Knighten was born June 18, 1951, to Eloise Thomas and Lester Knighten of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He attended the public schools of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, before enrolling in Southern University Laboratory School in 1966, earning his high school diploma in 1969. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education from Southern University in Baton Rouge and later a Master of Arts in Mass Communications from the same institution. In his freshmen year he wrote his first composition for concert band. This composition was performed in concert that same year.

Carnell loved music, educating kids and preparing them for the future. His life was a testimony to this passion. After graduating from Southern in 1975, he became arranger for the Morgan State University Band under Mr. John Newson in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1978, Mr. Knighten returned to his high school alma mater, Southern University Laboratory School, where he developed an outstanding marching band and symphonic band program. Along the way, he also taught at Louisiana Training Institute in Bridge City, Louisiana, Crestworth Middle School and Capitol High School both in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and in the Baltimore City Public Schools.

In 1988, Dr. Issac Greggs, then Director of Bands at Southern University, asked Mr. Knighten if he would like to move up to the University as Arranger and Assistant Director of Bands, a position that he graciously accepted. In this position, Carnell arranged and composed music for various ensembles at Southern University, where he also served as Associate Director of Bands; Symphonic Band Conductor; and Instructor of Music Technology, Band Arranging and Composition, and Enjoyment of Music. He was active as an adjudicator, guest conductor, commissioned composer, and music technology consultant.

As an Instructor of Music Technology, Carnell was instrumental in writing a grant, securing funding, procuring equipment and setting up a state-of-the-art Music Technology Lab to train students for the future of music. He worked extremely hard on the development of the Music Technology Lab and was very proud of it.

Beginning in 2010, Carnell also served as part-time Music Arranger at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. He was very proud of his work with the Marching 101 and at the time of his death, he was looking forward to attending the Honda Battle of the Bands with them. Carnell was a life member and former District Governor of Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity.

For more on Zeta Nu and Zeta Eta’s Tribute to Mr. Knighten, check out this video:

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