Sole female member of Marine band performs at Sac State


U.S. Marine Corps Jazz Band’s member Cpl. Madeline Young plays the baritone saxophone along with Gunnery Sgt. Jason Knuckles during a performance at Capistrano Hall on March 9. (Photo by Andro Palting)

Andro Palting

At a concert with a Frank Sinatra feel, one female musician took to the stage when the U.S. Marine Corps Jazz Band filled Capistrano Hall with its music on March 9 following performances by Sacramento State’s jazz band.

Cpl. Madeline Young is the only woman among the Marine Corps band’s 16 members. She performed a solo on the baritone saxophone during “TTG,” a music piece added to the program last minute and which was composed by Mark Lemstrom, a soon-to-be retired trombone player.

Young — who also plays alto and tenor saxophone — has been in the band for two years playing the baritone saxophone, which she said is her favorite instrument and the one she gets asked to play the most in shows.

The first instrument Young played was the alto saxophone when she was eight years old, and did not pick up the baritone saxophone until the eighth grade.

Looking to travel and develop her professionalism, Young made that decision to join four days after meeting up with a Marine recruiter.

She said that her family was surprised when she first broke the news, but proud of her for being the first woman in their family to serve in any branch of the military.

“My mother called everyone in my family and everyone was very proud of (me) being in the Marine Corps,” Young said.

Young said that being the only female band member does not bother her.

“It is really cool to represent women in the Marine Corps in the way that I do, but I am here to make great music,” Young said. “Don’t let the fact that it’s a male-dominated field be a (turnoff) to you.”

She explained that during her years growing up playing the baritone saxophone, she had a female teacher who played the saxophone professionally. It was not until then that she noticed there were so many famous saxophone players.

“I’m proud to be a member of this ensemble whether I’m the only female or not,” Young said.

Capt. Skye Martin, the public affairs officer of the 12th Marine Corps District, said that Young’s “tenacity and hard work” have inspired others.

“I truly enjoyed witnessing the impact Cpl. Young’s performances had on musicians in the audience, particularly how she inspired other young women,” Martin said. “Her talent, professionalism and dedication landed her in the Marines’ premier jazz ensemble, and her performances have spoken volumes to countless others that they too can be up on that stage with the Marines.”

The Marine Corps Jazz Band performs publicly hundreds of times across the nation and overseas each year. The Marine Corps band joined Sac State’s band and the concert had several guest appearances, including from Sac State’s own music professor Steve Roach.