Five-year-old drumming prodigy lands full band scholarship to Alcorn State, 13 years before his high school graduation

November 20, 2019

Nicole Jackson, 40 and a mother of three, is taking out loans to help put her 21-year-old daughter through college. But she won’t have to do that for her 5-year-old.

Jeremiah Travis started beating on ABC blocks as a baby and has been “beating on stuff” ever since, his mother said to the Mississippi Clarion Ledger, part of the USA TODAY Network. Now, the talented snare drummer has been offered a full band scholarship to Alcorn State University in Mississippi.

When Travis graduates from high school in 2032, he has the opportunity — if he chooses — to play in the Sounds of Dyn-O-Mite Band.

“Now, to know that he is 5 and has a full scholarship made me feel so good. I am just amazed at his playing level with him being so young,” Jackson said.

Travis is a snare drummer at St. Helena College and Career Academy in Greensburg, LA. From the dance moves to the cadences, the kindergartner has dazzled crowds with his performances in halftime and sideline shows, including New Orleans Pelicans basketball games.

5-year-old drummer ‘always working on his skills’

At the age of 5, most kids are playing with toys, video games or watching PAW Patrol on television.

“My child only plays a video game for no longer than 15 minutes and then he wants to beat on something,” Jackson said.

“He’s not a video game person. He likes to move and learn different things with drums.”

Each day, Travis is surrounded by beginner band members and drummers who are 10 years older than him and more than twice his size.

But, Chesteron Frye — the band director at St. Helena College and Career Academy and former student band director at Alcorn State University — said it is Travis’ work ethic that makes him who he is.

“He’s 5 years old but he’s always working on his skills,” Frye said.

“Any free time in the band room or when we go on break, he’s drumming on the floor, getting other drummers to come and just asking them ‘can we play, can we play’.”

‘When it is time for battle, play time is over’

Brandon Dorsey, the percussion instructor at the school and a 2017 graduate of Alcorn, said Travis constantly wants to learn.

“I don’t force him to do things because he is 5 years old,” Dorsey said. “Sometimes, I have to revamp myself and remember that he is so young. What he has, it is a God’s gift.”

When the percussion section prepares to battle an opposing drumline, Travis is in his element.

“He is just zoned in,” Dorsey said. “Sometimes, I don’t teach him a part because I think he might not be able to play it. Next thing you know, we start playing a cadence, he just starts playing it and I’m amazed. When it is time for battle, play time is over. He is really about business.”

He loves ‘Drumline,’ learning moves from cousin

When a normal school day ends — if Travis is not watching Drumline, his mother says — he’s looking for his cousin, Kenya Brooks, a member of the St. Helena College and Career Academy’s percussion section.

“Kenya was the person who brought Jeremiah to the band room when I first got hired as the band director here,” Frye said.

“All they do is drum together during and after practice. They have like the big brother-little brother relationship.”

Kenya is responsible for teaching Travis all of the dance moves and parts to cadences.

“When he graduates, whichever college he attends — hopefully he attends Alcorn State — he has a bright future,” Dorsey said.