The purpose of “Up Close and Personal” is to help NJNJ web site followers familiarize themselves with the new faces who will be judging with us. But in the case of Julian Williams, we hardly have a stranger to our neighborhood, although we may not be accustomed to seeing an MP3 recorder in front of that face.
As the person behind the twenty-five creative endeavors of the Light Brigade winter guard, Julian has been directly responsible for developing a guard with a unique identity that is known worldwide. For this reason – although his products have always been identifiable by the audiences – it might be a pleasure to relive some of that joy in Light Brigade’s history.
What is it that makes Light Brigade unique in contrast with other guards?
Light Brigade is truly one of the hardest working performance color guards that I have ever worked with. Those performers would showcase their individual talents to the staff and it was up to us to take those abilities and run with it! They brought a special fearless flair of excitement and entertainment to the activity and they enjoyed themselves doing it.
Light Brigade has been around for forty years. Sheila Henderson has been their only director and she is the glue that holds that program together. Over the years, others have also contributed to the guard’s success, including Daniel Bostic, Jerry Corradino and Marc Sylvester.
All of Light Brigade’s shows are special to me. If I had to single out one season, it would be the 2003 show, “Thy Will Be Done”, collaboratively written with Daniel Bostic and Sheila Henderson, which garnered their highest WGI honor of a bronze medal at the World Championships.
Besides your involvement with winter guard and judging, you spent seventeen years with Morgan State University. How did that happen? Did your involvement with MSC help precipitate other achievements in the activity?
After taking the position as guard caption head, I was offered the opportunity to attend the University and earn my degree in Elementary Education. Working with the band involved a tremendous amount of hands-on contact as they were constantly changing their shows to accommodate the many requests besides home football games. One of the highlights of working with MSU was their performance in Chris Rock”s movie, “Head of State.”
To express their gratitude for my contributions to MSU, I was honored with the Silver Baton Award and was inducted Kappa Kappa Psi fraternity. Along with these recognitions, I have alsao cherished WGI’s Volunteer of the Year Award for my contributions with the Light Brigade and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Citation for my contributions to the Mechanicsburg Scholastic Winter Guard.
What winter programs are you involved with now?
At Mohonasen (NY) HS and Draper Middle School, I am working with my good friend Daniel Philpott-Jones in putting those programs on the floor. We both share the same passion and enthusiasm for the activity, which we incorporate into the programs with long planning sessions before we decide to ever walk into the gymnasium.
In 2014, Franco Robinson connected with me, the director of Q. Q has been a breath of fresh air with an extraordinarily talented cast and a caring instructional team. I am honored to be part of their program.
Who have you had contact with that has made a lasting impression on you?
I will always remember Steve Woods for his tireless efforts with the Baltimore Squires, the 1983 NJA Open Class (which was the highest class then) champions, is highly remembered for his tireless efforts. Steve’s greatest achievement was remaining loyal to one group only, something that is truly missing in today’s activity. Besides Steve, people such as Mary Denniston, Thomas White, Rich Templin and Barry Swain were instrumental in helping me develop in the Sport of the Arts.
Mary once told me: “Sit back and just watch.” Barry’s profound words of wisdom were: “Judge what you see, reward it and don’t be afraid to help it along.” And that is what I hope to do for NJNJ this season.