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Music Remains Constant – Multi-talented Gulf Coast musician performs to unify Mississippi

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Chandler Ladner performing with the saxophone at a bar in Gulfport, Mississippi. Photo by Samuel Palode.

Samuel Palode
Oxford Stories
sjpalolde@go.olemiss.edu

The first instrument Chandler Ladner mastered was a guitar at age 8. The piano followed. Then the saxophone.

“I love challenges,” said Ladner. “It takes me to a new level and shows me new things, new attributes of music. Music is always a lesson based on the flow or rigidness of each note played. It will tell anyone a story and put them at peace at the same time. Music is life to me, and it should be to everyone. A life without music is a life wasted.”

Today, Ladner, 20, is the lead guitarist and back-up pianist of The Trent Ladner Band. The Kiln, Mississippi native performs with the group on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and during performances, he said he often thinks about racial harmony and unity.

After high school, Ladner joined a band at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He played the saxophone for small gigs, weddings and church events. The variety of musical styles made him believe he could unite people through music, no matter their race or religion.

“I understood that in today’s society that race is a big issue,” he said. “It has been for a long time, and it has never subsided like many expected it to. While the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, one thing to me and all of us remains constant – music.

“I made it a mission to find places locally that seem separated due to the actions taking place in higher society, and just remind them through music that everything will be alright, and that even though we may not have the same color skin, we are all human.”

Understanding It All

Ladner connected with music at an early age.

“I first picked up a basketball,” he said. “It was fun and all, but when I heard music, it touched me in a way that I never thought possible. Whether it was good old country, or the new generation of rap, any and all music I heard put me in a good mood. It spoke to me, I guess you can say. The amazing thing about it was that I could understand it all.”

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Chandler Ladner rehearsing for a musical. Photo by Samuel Palode.

Chandler later helped create The Trent Ladner Band in late 2015 with relatives. Dedeaux, Mississippi native Trent Ladner, 18, said the band was Chandler Ladner’s idea.

“He showed selflessness by allowing me to find other musicians I was comfortable with, and allowed me to come up with a name,” he said. “He didn’t want all the attention. That just goes to show the personality and character Chandler is – an awesome human being with an even better mind for music and the ability to play.”

Trent Ladner said the band tries to utilize Chandler Ladner’s multi-talents.

“Usually, I’m a huge fan of country music,” Trent Lander said. “Chandler is the one to do more of the exploring of music. When we collaborated, I understood that country music would not always be the way to go. Due to that, with Chandler’s abilities to play so many instruments, we spend a lot of time mixing the sounds and finding the perfect blend for different locations on the coast.”

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The Trent Ladner Band performing “Purple Rain” by Prince in Biloxi, Mississippi. Ladner is pictured at left. Photo by Samuel Palode.

Trent Ladner said band members decide what music to play based on their audience. In Gulfport, they select music that will generate joy.

“We like to add some upbeat tempo while also bringing a jazz type flow to keep the atmosphere at a steady,” he said. “Our music ranges from a hundred percent county to music that resembles rap and R&B, as well as jazz.”

After every concert, The Trent Ladner Band members evaluate the concert as a whole to improve.

“It is kind of hard to tell what is going on and process it,” Chandler Ladner said. “When people are dancing while we play, then we’ve done a good job. If people are seated and only clap at the end of every song, we feel like we have not done our jobs.

“Once the concert has concluded and people are still at the stage and conversating with us, we understand we have touched the hearts of those people. That is what this is all about, and I am looking forward to touching many more lives through music.”

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