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A Few Clouds

Zac Cannon tapped to lead Long Beach High bands


By Andy Kanengiser

Zac Cannon has picked up the baton from his mentor Mickey Mangum to become the new director of Long Beach High bands.

Cannon, assistant band director/percussion director in Bearcats Country, was promoted to succeed Mangum, who recently retired. His new role begins August 1.

Cannon and his wife, Paige, are fans of the close-knit Mississippi Gulf Coast community and Long Beach High.

“We love the city of Long Beach, and the students are some of the best in the whole state!” Cannon said. “I look forward to continuing to serve our students and community to build upon our great foundation of excellence.”

Facing enormous health challenges with the rest of the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Long Beach band held their first live in-person concert in more than a year in late April. The program at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College marked Mickey Mangum’s finale as their inspirational conductor.

Cannon will be in charge of a series of in-person band activities stretching from this summer through the upcoming academic year.

Events kick off with a drum, color guard and rookie camp for Long Beach students July 19-23. Full high school band camp runs from July 26-30. Cannon also works on staff this summer with the Mississippi Lions All-State Band as its percussion director, composer and arranger.

Beginning in August, there’s a blitz of Long Beach Bearcats football games on his calendar. The workload seldom slows down. Student musicians will compete for spots in State Championships in October. Concert ensembles will perform live programs this fall, as well.

“Long Beach will be proud of the work he and his staff will do for the music students in our area,’’ Mangum said. “He is a fantastic music educator who will always keep the needs of the students as his main focus.’’

Long Beach High Band Boosters say they are thrilled with Cannon’s selection.

“We’re so happy that Mr. Cannon was promoted from inside the program,” said booster club member Hayes Johnson, whose son is the marching band’s saxophone section leader for the upcoming academic year. “The kids love and respect him, and he sets the same high standards as his predecessor.’’

A 2010 Jones College graduate, Cannon earned his bachelor’s in music education at the University of Southern Mississippi. In 2019, he received his master’s in music education at William Carey University.

A 2007 Pearl High graduate, Cannon has band skills embedded in his genes. His dad, Jeff Cannon, retired after an illustrious decades-long career as Pearl High’s band director.

His dad and Mickey Mangum played major roles in Cannon’s musical journey. The Mississippian began performing in Pearl bands in the sixth grade as a percussionist. He became a snare drummer in the Pearl High Pirates marching band and a symphonic band timpani player. A Mississippi Lions All-State Band member, Cannon later performed on the snare line for Jones College in Ellisville.

Cannon transferred to Southern Miss, where he joined the snare line in USM’s Pride of Mississippi Marching Band. Highlights included a trip to New York City to entertain in the Southern Miss band at the 2010 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

Earlier in his career, Cannon worked at Warren Central High in Vicksburg as the percussion program leader and sixth-grade band conductor. In 2015, he reunited with Mangum as an assistant band director at Long Beach schools.

Cannon said it’s been a joy to be teamed with a great teacher. Cannon first took percussion lessons from Mangum as a Pearl High student and learned from him once more as a Clinton High student teacher.

Cannon’s wife Paige serves as coordinator of student activities at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. They enjoy life with their Siberian Husky, Laska, and a Calico cat named Biscuit. The couple attends Northwood Church in Long Beach. Says Paige: Zac “lives, eats, sleeps and breathes band.’’