This summer, Gunnery Sgt. Stacie Crowther will lead the Marine Band as the first female Assistant Drum Major for “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band. Crowther auditioned for and won the position in Fall 2016 and reported for duty in March 2017. During the audition, four candidates from the fleet Marine Corps bands spent several hours with Marine Band Drum Major Master Sgt. Duane King and Assistant Drum Major Gunnery Sgt. Steven Williams learning different marching and mace techniques used at Marine Barracks Washington.
During the audition, four candidates from the fleet Marine Corps bands spent several hours with Marine Band Drum Major Master Sgt. Duane King and Assistant Drum Major Gunnery Sgt. Steven Williams learning different marching and mace techniques used at Marine Barracks Washington. On the first day of auditions, the candidates led the Marine Band in the Friday Evening Parade Pass in Review sequence. The following day, the candidates conducted the band in several selections to include Honors, the National Anthem, a foreign anthem, and a march. The candidates also interviewed with the directors and leadership of “The President’s Own.”
Crowther auditioned to be Assistant Drum Major because it gave her the opportunity to expand her knowledge base and step outside the normal role of a fleet Marine Corps Drum Major. As Assistant Drum Major for “The President’s Own,” Crowther will lead the band in ceremonial commitments and, as the company gunnery sergeant, she will be responsible for unit and new member training. Following her tour with the Marine Band, she will return to the fleet Marine Corps.
“I am excited for new doors to be open and that history is being made,” said Crowther. “But at the same time, I’ll be responsible for the same job those before me have done, male or female. It’s an absolute honor being at Marine Barracks Washington. I’m still walking around asking myself if this is for real!”
“It’s a pleasure to have Gunnery Sgt. Crowther here with ‘The President’s Own’ as the first female Assistant Drum Major in our history,” said Master Sgt. Duane King. “Regardless of gender, she is one of the finest drum majors the Corps has to offer and I feel her talent and experience will be of great benefit to the organization.”
Crowther joined the military at the urging of her Mom. “She’d tell me, ‘You need to call the Navy band,’ almost every day. When I started my senior year in 1998, Marine recruiters were at my [high] school during lunch so I went up and looked at the musician pamphlet. There was a Marine there who was on Recruiter’s Assistance and was a flute player in one of the fleet bands. She said I could come up to the office and play for her, and she’d tell me what I might need to work on if I decided to audition. The rest is history.”
Crowther realized 10 years into her Marine Corps career that she wanted to be a drum major. “The extent of being in front of a band for me was having everybody play some chords and get a pitch before a performance or two,” she explained. “But in the Unit Leader Course you learn ceremonial conducting and drum majoring, among other things. Once we started spinning the mace, I wanted to get better; I’d never touched a mace before. When the day finally came for me to lead a band on the march, I knew I wanted to be a Drum Major. The wall of sound behind me was incredible, and I couldn’t believe I was the one in front.”
Crowther has grown accustomed to leading bands in parades and ceremonial events. She led the Marine Corps Band New Orleans in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Downtown Parade with an audience of more than a million both live and broadcast. Her all-time favorite was marching the Marine Corps Band New Orleans through the Superdome at the Krewe of Endymion Mardi Gras Ball. “The band had just finished marching about six miles in roughly four hours and we got to the Superdome for the Parade of Bands. We went in, the spotlight came up, and the roar of the audience was amazing. I’ve never experienced anything like it!”
Current Assistant Drum Major Gunnery Sgt. Williams says Crowther has all the tools she needs to do a great job here and she has adaptability due to her experience and nearly two decades in the Marine Corps. When asked why he thinks Crowther will be successful: “Because she is a Gunnery Sergeant of Marines!”
While she is no stranger to marching parades and leading Marines, there are challenges with being the first female drum major for “The President’s Own.” “I anticipate some growing pains with having a much less tall person up front,” she said. Marching with a sword will be new for the incoming assistant drum major, and there are uniform, marching, and mace differences. “The uniforms will be totally different, with the biggest change being the Bearskin. I’m still working on different ways to wear my hair under there.”
“But more than anything, I’m looking forward to being out on the deck with the elite.”
Washington -- The Evening Parade at Marine Barracks Washington takes place at 8:45 p.m., Fridays from May 5 to Aug. 25. The parades are free; however, reservations are recommended. Please visit www.barracks.marines.mil.