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ECHS alums ready for Late Night debut
Elizabeth Cook rehearsal
Elizabeth Cook rehearses with Southern Pride drummers at the Gene Bishop Field House at Paulson Stadium. - photo by Photo by Jeremy Wilburn, Georgia Southern University

Trey Exley and Jimmy Rotureau have played together in the Effingham County High School marching band and Georgia Southern University marching band, so it’s fitting their first appearance on national television will be together.

Exley and Rotureau are two of four drummers from GSU’s Southern Pride marching band who will perform with country music singer, songwriter and Georgia Southern alumna Elizabeth Cook on Thursday’s Late Show with David Letterman. The show will air at 11:35 p.m. eastern on CBS.

“We’re definitely looking forward to it,” said Rotureau, a junior nursing major from Guyton.

“It’s still kind of hard to believe, really. It was just the most unexpected thing,” said Exley, a senior from Rincon majoring in exercise science. “I really can’t describe how excited I am. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

The GSU drummers accompanying Cook were chosen based on seniority, leadership and academic performance, according to band director Colin McKenzie. Exley and Rotureau are captains on the Southern Pride drum line, as they were in high school for the Rebel Regiment.

Rotureau said he was awakened one day in January by a phone call from McKenzie telling him the big news.

“He called and told me one morning after I had a huge test,” Rotureau said, “so that gave me a nice wake-up and got me out of bed.”

The Georgia Southern band members will depart for New York Tuesday and will rehearse with Cook on Wednesday. While in New York, they also will attend a Broadway show and take in some of the sites.

“I have never been to New York,” Rotureau said, “and being able to be on national TV while having that experience is great for not just me but also the drum line, the band and the university.”

This will be Exley’s first trip to the Big Apple. He has traveled with Southern Pride to several other states and performed in front of thousands of spectators for Georgia Southern away football games. He will now add a trip to New York to perform on “a really iconic show” that he said he often watched growing up.

“When I was in fifth grade, I had a decision of whether or not I wanted to sign up for middle-school band class,” Exley said. “I never would’ve thought all the places that music would take me just from that small decision 10 years ago.”

Cook, a 1996 Georgia Southern graduate, is the host of “Apron Strings” weekday mornings on Sirius XM’s Outlaw Country channel. Her latest EP, Gospel Plow, includes some of her favorite southern gospel songs as well as a cover of Velvet Underground’s “Jesus.”

Cook recently traveled back to Statesboro for an initial rehearsal with the drummers at Paulson Stadium. On the Late Show, they will perform Cook’s rendition of the Blind Willie Johnson song “If I Had My Way, I’d Tear This Building Down.”

Rotureau’s parents Joe and Vicki and his brother Jonathan will be watching on television, as will Exley’s parents Larry and Kim and his sister Jill. People across Effingham County also are sure to tune in to see the 2010 ECHS graduates.

“Hopefully Southern Pride and a lot of Georgia Southern students will be watching too,” Exley said.