Sumter's Next Generation, presented by CCTC: Crestwood senior drum major Singleton shares passion, purpose of pursuing music


The glare of the football floodlights are all too familiar to Crestwood High's Jonathan Singleton.

The senior class president and drum major once braved those bright lights as a wide receiver and corner for the Knights. He soon switched out his padded helmet for a shakos, a distinctive headpiece worn by drum majors, adorned in the vibrant purple and elegant white local Knights are known for. Instead of listening for plays, his ears perk at the howl of a whistle, alerting his fellow band members it's time to show up and show out.

But Singleton didn't discover his passion for music on the field. Rather, he found it within the instruments inside local churches.

"Growing up in Sumter, I feel like I always had a passion for music since I was young. As I got older, I started playing for different churches - I play for these churches actually right now, and I came to [Crestwood's] band [because] I really wanted to pursue my music."

Balancing football practices and band rehearsals showcased his dedication but also proved to be a challenge. At the start of his junior year, Singleton decided to hang up his cleats to pursue band full-time. He wouldn't immediately become drum major, only earning the role after countless hours of hard work, dedication and leadership skills.

Alongside head drum major Nathan Riley, a junior at Crestwood, the pair leads the band in its performances, ensuring musical and social harmony among the instruments and their players. For the Class of 2024 overall, Singleton held true to his campaign goal of organizing memorable events - like Senior Sunrise - to make this year "the best senior year ever for Crestwood High School."

These moments throughout his senior year make the entire experience worthwhile. He hopes his legacy after graduation will include him being seen as a role model - just as he sees the local musicians and producers he creates alongside. Their influence fuels his aspirations to one day produce beats, becoming a well-known DJ. For now, he'll share his talents with Orangeburg, as he plans to attend Claflin University to major in cybersecurity and march with South Carolina State University's Marching 101 Band.

As the soon-to-be graduate prepares to pass the baton - or mace - he encouraged aspiring drum majors and generations behind him to "make sure you have good leadership skills [and] good social skills" and remember to pour themselves into their passions - regardless of what they are - as "it's good to have something going on, like always staying busy because you can get easily distracted."