The 105 members of the Omaha Central High School Marching Band were ready to welcome Taylor Swift to Omaha last week.
They practiced the school's fight song. They told their friends. They wondered how they got so lucky that they were chosen to surprise the 23-year-old superstar with a musical welcome to the CenturyLink Center, where she'll play tonight and Thursday.
Alas, Swift's travel plans changed, the welcome concert was canceled, and 105 students tried not to be too disappointed. They focused on Central's performance in the Boys State Basketball Tournament.
But after Friday's semifinal game, they got their own musical surprise, this one from Swift.
The pop star wondered if they would like to attend one of her Omaha shows — her treat.
The Eagles had won the game, advancing to Saturday's finals, and spirits among the band members were already high, said sophomore Jared Givens, who plays the alto saxophone.
“Then we came back and got more good news,” he said.
Paula Erickson, a spokeswoman for Swift, said the star felt bad when she heard about the surprise concert that wasn't.
“She would never want to disappoint the students,” Erickson said.
A Swift representative contacted Dionne Kirksey, an assistant principal at Central High School, and told her about the invitation. Then Kirksey got the happy job of telling the students, who were, predictably, ecstatic.
Kirksey was impressed. The singer didn't have to do that.
“She is really nice,” Kirksey said.
Givens, a fan who is especially fond of Swift's first album, has never seen the singer live. In fact, this will be his first experience seeing any big pop act. The closest he's come was a Kenny G concert.
He's excited to see what a big concert is like, and he's curious about which songs Swift will play. All together, more than 70 band members have signed up to attend one of the two concerts, Erickson said.
For the band members who attend, the shows will cap off a roller-coaster week. There was the news of the surprise concert, the news of its cancellation, and the excitement of Central's fourth straight state basketball title.
The show is icing on the cake that the students didn't expect but are grateful for nonetheless, Kirksey said.
“We are very appreciative.”