Southern University Long time assistant Director, Arranger, Composer & Professor. Mr. Carnell Knighten died yesterday In Southern University’s Music Building. Although it’s been said it was likely a Heart attack or Massive stroke, At this time the actual cause of his death is still unconfirmed (at least to my knowledge)
I received the news of his death via texts message prior the confirmation. Along with that, seeing all the Facebook post about it had me at a loss for words. I got calls from a few friends who were his students who were still trying to figure out if it was true. and it’s sad for me to say that it is true.
It’s a Sad day in HBCU band history. Mr. Knighten was Legend, he Knew it but he was modest about it. I probably was among the many who have talked to him and told him that. I’ve played this man’s music, both written by hand and digitally and those tunes were some of the greatest I’d ever played. Starting with #1 Which was Paula Abdul’s Cold Hearted. That was the first tune I’d even Seen & Played in band. and to me, playing THAT was something big because I knew I was playing College music even though I didn’t quite understand it back then.
Knighten’s music Practically Defined 90’s era New Orleans bands. It makes me wonder if he Knew how big of a roll his music played on us. As Gerard Said, He Supplied us (New Orleans bands) with the Ammunition He was our Armory.
I spoke with G. Howard who had gotten confirmation from SU band director Mr. Jackson prior to calling me. Which led to conference call with Myself, G Howard and some others discussing the legend that was Carnell Knighten. Although We were all not Students of Knighten, We were among the many who have gotten a chance to p[lay his music. With what we knew of him we were able to express our thoughts about His impact on the Band community in our cities or just personally.
One of the guys Guys on the call was a formers student in the mid 90’s who had worked with and among Mr. Knghten in recent years and You could hear it in his voice that he was sheading tears talking about it. I would be too if I was that close to him. and That’s the wild part. Because as I said on twitter. Most of anyone who played the man’s music or Saw him direct or even got to briefly talk to him (such as myself) mainly knew him by his work. Yet His students and colleagues knew Him as a man, as family or even a father figure to many and My condolences are with them all.
It’s still unbelievable just sitting her talking about it. I don’t think its going to sink in till I hear some of his tunes live and he’s not there directing them.
Once again, My Condolences to the Knighten Family, as well as the Southern University Bandsmen and woman.
Rest In Peace Mr. Carnell Knighten and Thank you for your contribution to music.