At the 2013 Drum Corps International World Championship Finals in Indianapolis, Carolina Crown become the first corps to win the World Class title for the first time since Phantom Regiment won in 1996.
Blue Devils took second place with its homage to the 100-year anniversary of Stravinsky's “Rite of Spring,” while The Cadets took third place with a show based on the music of Samuel Barber.
Amongst the many other highlights was Santa Clara Vanguard disappearing and playing behind a cityscape of Paris, and Madison Scouts' celebration of the corps' 75th anniversary with a gut-wrenching vocal performance of the corps' theme song, “You'll Never Walk Alone.”
With the corps' 12th-place “Voodoo: I Put a Spell on You” production, the Blue Stars snuck into the Finals competition after edging the Troopers by just over a tenth of a point in the Semifinals.
The corps employed no large sets on the field as it had in recent previous seasons. Instead, prominently displayed at the front of the field were two tables loaded with items meant to play up the voodoo theme, including a skull, candles, and talismans.
The fanfare opener of “At Last” was written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren and recorded by the Glenn Miller Orchestra for “Sun Valley Serenade,” the 1941 musical film that starred figure skating superstar Sonja Henie. It became the signature song for famed blues singer Etta James after she recorded an R&B rendition in 1961.
Setting the story in motion, the show opened with color guard members playing a New Orleans man and woman who were in love. It was a nice and subdued moment until another woman entered the scene to steal him away. That action led the corps into “Voodoo,” a piece written by corps arrangers Richard Saucedo, Ian Grom and John Mapes.
As the first love watched her man go away, a voodoo priestess emerged and handed the spurned woman a pouch filled with talismans. Moments tinged with anxiety alternated with lighter moments of hope, leading into a short jazz-swing section that represented the environment of New Orleans, followed by music that sounded like the backdrop to a film noir crime drama.
Next, the corps transitioned to “I Put a Spell on You,” written by blues singer Jay Hawkins. The 1956 song was originally intended to be a tender love song, but it was the wacky screaming version that Hawkins and his band came up with that instantly became famous for its weirdness. Almost overnight, Hawkins became known to the public as Screamin' Jay Hawkins. The Blue Stars' arrangement, however, took the form of a bluesy ballad.
As the spurned lover discovered a voodoo doll, the male members of the guard appeared in black voodoo doll costumes. In an attempt to manipulate the doll, the woman took control of the actions of the horn line. She threw the voodoo doll in the air as sabers were tossed and color guard members did cartwheels, representing the doll sailing through the air.
The female members of the guard stabbed the males with the sabers when the brass players formed a giant, lopsided heart form. After figuratively sticking the pin into the voodoo dolls, they ripped out the hearts of the dolls by removing the red heart form on the front of their costumes.
The corps closed things out with “One Speed” written by New Zealand composer Graeme Revell for the 2004 film starring Vin Diesel, “The Chronicles of Riddick.”
After figuring out the voodoo culture, the jilted lover used her knowledge to become a voodoo princess and manipulate others, in the process getting back her man, who was unaware of the powers that now were used to control and direct him.
His limbs went limp as the voodoo took control of his actions. A set of four long colorful fabric banners poured out into the horn line from a center point, then expanded outward to cover the brass players with a giant shield.
The lesson for all was to not spurn a vengeful woman by falling for the charms of another, emphasizing the 1697 quote by British playwright William Congreve in The Mourning Bride: “Heav'n has to Rage, like Love to Hatred turn'd, Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn'd.”
Michael Boo was a member of the Cavaliers from 1975-1977. He has written about the drum corps activity for more than 35 years and serves as a staff writer for various Drum Corps International projects. Boo has written for numerous other publications and has published an honors-winning book on the history of figure skating. As an accomplished composer, Boo holds a bachelor's degree in music education and a master's degree in music theory and composition. He resides in Chesterton, Indiana.