Tag Archives: Aristocrat of Bands

Legendary Music Producer and TSU Faculty Reflects on Memories with ‘Queen of Soul’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – On the morning of August 16, 2018, Sanchez Harley reached for his cell phone to send a comforting text message to his dear friend who was gravely ill with pancreatic cancer.

“I’m praying for you. I will always love and appreciate you,” he wrote.

Harley, a Tennessee State University Alum and legendary music producer, did not know that the 18-time Grammy Award-winning Icon Aretha Franklin would not live to respond to his message. She would die that same morning.

“The only way to describe her is she was a one and only, and there will never be another. She taught me a lot,” he said.

This fall, Harley has returned to TSU as an adjunct professor in the Department of Music to teach students some of the valuable lessons he learned from the “Queen of Soul” and other wisdom he has accumulated during his journey in the music business.

Aretha Franklin with Sanchez harley and Jerry Parries, former president of the Tehillah Music Group. (Photo submitted)

“I was working on a duet with her and Karen Clark-Sheard, and I was trying to get them tight on a particular line, and she said to me, ‘Sanchez, perfect is not perfect.’ And I thought about that and taking it to the next level. Taking it to the next level means that you discover what feel is,” he said. “The definition of feel is the amount of imperfection. It’s the imperfection in something that creates the feel, because if it’s perfect, it doesn’t feel good… You really arrive as a producer when you figure out what of and how much of the bad you need to include in something for it to be good.”

Although he entered TSU on a music scholarship as a bass clarinetist and performed with the instrument in the symphonic band, Harley also played saxophone in the TSU jazz band and in the Aristocrat of Bands. He said that during his career he has worked in several capacities, including arranger, producer and coordinator of live events.

Harley credits Tennessee State for playing a major role in preparing him to work with music greats like Shirley Caesar, George Clinton, Rufus, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Kirk Franklin, The Temptations and Patti Austin.

“While at TSU I started arranging music for the marching band under Dr. Greer,” he said. “A lot of those experiences, just getting up and standing in front of the band over in the music building, prepared me to stand in front of musicians on Music Row.”

He said some of the most important traits a music producer must have are a great ear, objectivity and the ability to recognize a great song.

“I told my class in our last meeting, you can take a great song and a poor artist and a poor performance, and win most of the time. But you can take a great artist with a great performance and a poor song and almost never win. It’s all about the song,” he said.

Dr. Robert Elliot, head of the Department of Music, said Harley has visited the department as a guest speaker prior to this semester, but wanted to do more for his alma mater.

Sanchez Harley with Aretha Franklin and his late mother, Sarah Harley, at Franklin’s annual revival in Detroit in 2010. (Photo submitted)

“He wants to give back to his university, and his university definitely wants him here with us. The students have just plugged in to him in a big way,” Elliot said. “He’s got this history of having worked with performers and doing production in the studio. Too often the thing that is left out of all that instruction is how to get the best performance out of an artist. Well, he’s done that for decades, and he is bringing those skills in to teach our students how to do the same thing.”

Harley said the course he is teaching this fall, Introduction to Music Production, is a course Elliot gave him the freedom to design.

“I find that many young producers have a misconception about what production is. They don’t really understand all of the things that are involved administratively. It’s more than administrative; it’s technical. It’s psychological—being able to get the best performances from your people. It’s accounting. It’s organization. It’s tact. It’s so many things,” he said. “I designed an Introduction to Music Production course to give individuals who are inspiring to produce some background of all of those things.”

Elliot said the university is proud to have Harley as part of its faculty.

“We say that ‘Excellence Is Our Habit’, and this is just one more bit of proof of just how much that excellence has been the habit at TSU for over 100 years, and it is going forward.”

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU celebrates history-making Homecoming with new constructions, record fundraising and parade attendance

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – This year’s Homecoming at Tennessee State University involved a bit of history-making, in addition to the excitement.

The Tigers’ trouncing of the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (41-14) in the football game at Nissan Stadium on Saturday was just the icing on the cake. Add that to the much-anticipated parade along Jefferson Street that brought out thousands, and groundbreaking ceremonies for four new buildings, as well as a scholarship gala the night before that raised a record amount to keep students in school.

President Glenda Glover waves to the crowd along the 2018 Homecoming parade route. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The Scholarship Gala is the university’s single largest fundraising event. Organizers said when all the tabulation is completed, they expect this year’s proceeds to top last year’s $1.3 million intake.

No doubt, TSU President Glenda Glover called this year’s Homecoming one of the most exciting in school history.

“We are on record pace here,” Glover said to a packed room of cheering fans at the President’s Homecoming Reception at Nissan Stadium, just before the football game.

“We broke ground for four new buildings this week, including two new residence halls that will

The world-renowned TSU Aristocrat of Bands participates in the Homecoming parade. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

help us to recruit more quality students. We are just very excited.”

The new structures include two new residence halls, a Health Sciences Building and an Alumni Welcome Center. The new dorms will be the first to be built at the university in 23 years, and the Health Sciences Building will be the first state-funded building to be constructed on the campus in 15 years.

Glover also touted the record number of participants in the 2018 Homecoming parade.

“We had 140 entrants in this year’s parade, that’s the largest ever. It is really good to see the Nashville community come out in such numbers to support TSU,” she said.

Mr. TSU and Miss TSU and their Court wave to the cheering crowd from atop their Homecoming float in the 2018 parade along Jefferson Street. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

At the reception, Glover recognized and congratulated several individuals, including Special Presidential Honoree James Shaw, Jr., the “Waffle House Hero”; the parade grand marshals, and the Homecoming honorees. She also recognized and thanked TSU alums Amos and Brenda Otis for their “generous contribution” of $1million toward the construction of the new Alumni Welcome Center.

She paid special tribute to the family of injured TSU football player Christion Abercrombie for their courage. The family, including Abercrombie’s aunt, Shawn Neason, and uncle Kevin Richardson – sporting the player’s No. 6 jersey – later joined President Glover for the coin toss at the start of the game. Also present at the reception was Abercrombie’s other uncle, Obie Mitchell, and Chris Wyckoff, a family friend.

TSU President Glenda Glover, along with senior administration and Foundation Board members, receive a check for $1 million from TSU alums Amos and Brenda Otis toward the construction of an Alumni Welcome Center on campus. Picture from left are: President Glover, Amos Otis, Brenda Otis, Dwaye Tucker, Foundation Board chair; Dr. Lesia Crunpton-Young, VP for Research and Institutional Advancement; Joni McReynolds, President of the TSU National Alumni Association; Cassandra Griggs, Alumni Affairs director; and Dr. Curtis Johnson, Chief of Staff. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Like Glover said, excitement about homecoming was widespread and rekindled a lot of memories.  Nathan Andrews was all smiles as he stood in front of what is now Humphries Hall and pointed to the parking lot on the other side – soon to be the home of the Alumni Welcome Center.

“That was a baseball field, where we passed the time in the evening,” said Andrews, of Nashville, who came to TSU in 1959. “And where I am standing was a little beer joint. We couldn’t go to many places so some of us would sneak around here.”

Injured TSU football player Christion Abercrombie’s family member accompany President Glover for the coin toss at the start of the Homecoming game at Nissan Stadium. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Andrews said although he is not active as he should be, he watches the parade every year if his health allows, and sits at his favorite spot – “across from the baseball field.”

Colette Combs, of Miami, Florida, a 1976 TSU graduate, looks forward to always coming back to where she called her beginning.

“Homecoming is filled with exciting moments of rekindling and renewing old friendships,” said Combs, who this year celebrated her 45th anniversary as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. “This is a time when we celebrate and reminisce on precious memories formulated here at Tennessee State University.”

A group of TSU alums, attending the Homecoming parade, celebrated their 45th anniversary as members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Several members of the class are not in the picture. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

From Oct. 14-20, Homecoming events included the Robert N. Murrell Oratorical Contest, a gospel concert, the Mr. TSU and Miss TSU coronation, the Homecoming Concert, the Alumni Whiteout Party, the Charles Campbell Fish Fry, the President’s Legacy Society Luncheon, and the Breakfast of Champions, among others.

Also this year, the university launched the Dr. Levi Watkins, Jr. Symposium in honor of the late TSU alum and pioneering heart surgeon. The Watkins family, who attended the inaugural symposium, received rousing applause from the audience and President Glover for contributing $500,000 to establish the Levi Watkins, Jr. Endowed Scholarship at TSU.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

For Tennessee State University, Southern Heritage Classic game Cancellation Not a Loss

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Although the much-anticipated 29th Southern Heritage Classic football game was canceled due to inclement weather, TSU’s spirit remained high.

The university experienced gains in recruitment, fundraising and community relations – three of TSU’s main goals at the annual gathering.

Emily Greer, Chief Administrative Officer of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, welcomes President Glenda Glover during a guided tour of the world renowned hospital. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The game between TSU and Jackson State University scheduled for Sept. 8 was eventually called off because of inclement weather.

TSU, with a 17-11 SHC record, was looking to extend its current win streak, which stands at 6-0 over JSU. Last year, the TSU Tigers defeated the JSU Tigers 17-15 before more than 47,000 fans in the Liberty Bowl.

While there was obvious disappointment, it did not overshadow positive experiences that occurred during the weekend.

Leading up to the game, TSU officials, administrators and staff engaged in a number of activities around Memphis.  Among them, a life changing experience when TSU President Glenda Glover was taken on a guided tour of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the only facility in the world with a research center and a hospital in the same venue.

The TSU Aristocra of Bands participates in the 29th Southern Heritage Classic Parade in Memphis on Sept. 8. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Accompanied by former Memphis Mayor AC Wharton, and Richard Lee Snow, senior adviser for Multicultural Marketing & Business Development for St. Jude, Glover saw labs and research facilities. She also received the history on the vision of St. Jude’s founder Danny Thomas, the evolution of the hospital, as well as its partnership with African-American communities, institutions and organizations.

Hospital employees who are TSU graduates were among those who greeted Glover. Earlier, Emily Greer, chief administrative officer of the St. Jude Children’s Hospital and Research Center, received Glover.

“It was phenomenal to see all the research that’s being done to save lives,” Glover said. “I am also amazed to see the generosity of the hospital as it pertains to patients, when families’ only concern is the well-being of their child and not costs. That is truly amazing.”

TSU sophomore Rachelle Brown. (Submitted photo)

The rain also didn’t stop Tennessee State University sophomore Rachelle Brown from winning big at the Classic. Brown received the first of four $10,000 McDonald’s “True to the HBCU” scholarships, facilitated by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. While maintaining a 3.8 grade point average, the Memphis native was active in her community: sorting and packaging food at the Second Harvest Food Bank in Nashville, Tennessee; collecting supplies for homeless women and victims of natural disasters in the Virgin Islands; and serving as a reading volunteer with Smart Baby, an organization promoting childhood literacy to children.

“I chose to attend an HBCU, for the rich education, both inside and outside the classroom,” Brown said. “I wanted to go to a college that would encourage me to step outside of my comfort zone and provide me with an atmosphere designed to promote excellence.”

Memphis WANTV Local 24 reporter Jeané Franseen interviews President Glover Sept. 7 during a morning show outside the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

As for recruitment, officials said a number of top graduating high school seniors who attended TSU’s Memphis Recruitment Reception on Sept. 7 have signed on to attend the university next fall. They said nearly 80 percent of the students who attended the reception in the Sheraton Memphis Downtown Hotel have already met “scholarship requirements.”

“We have already received their scholarship applications, transcripts and ACT scores,” said Dr. Gregory Clark, director of high school relations and NCAA certification at TSU. To be considered for a scholarship, a candidate must have at least a 3.0 GPA and 21 or higher on the ACT.

More than 200 high school seniors from the West Tennessee area and their parents attended the standing-room-only program in one of the hotel’s reception areas.

Jovon Jones, associate director of recruitment at TSU, talks to students and parents about scholarship requirements and deadlines at recruitment reception. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

According to officials of the Office of Institutional Advancement, this year’s Alumni Mixer – a key fundraising event of the Classic week – was a big success. With President Glover and Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young, vice president for Research and Institutional Advancement leading the charge, more than $20,000 was raised and nearly 20 new individuals joined the President’s Society. These are individuals who commit to contributing $1,000 or more a year.

“We just want to say thank you for all that you do for Tennessee State University to help keep needy students in school,” Glover said. “Your continued financial, material and other support and gifts are making a big difference in our students’ lives. We are thankful beyond measure for your support.”

During the week, Glover, accompanied by several senior university officials, also visited Power Center Academy High School and Whitehaven High School where she spoke to students and administrators, and answered questions about the importance of a college education and the programs and offerings at TSU.

Earlier on Saturday, Glover, the TSU Aristocrat of Bands, student organizations, including Mr. TSU and Miss TSU and their court, lead the 29th Southern Heritage Classic Parade in Memphis, with thousands along the route cheering on parade participants.

Next year’s Southern Heritage Classic football game is scheduled for Sept. 14.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Johnson Sworn In As Public Defender, Becomes Sixth TSU Alum To Currently Serve as First African American In Position In Metro Nashville Government

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University alum Martesha L. Johnson has reason to celebrate. She is the first African-American Metropolitan Public Defender for Nashville-Davidson County.

Her swearing-in ceremony, which was held Aug. 28 in Poag Auditorium in the Walter S. Davis Humanities Building, represents the crowning achievement of years of service Johnson has provided since she set her sites on being a public defender when she served as an intern with the Nashville Public Defenders Office in 2007.

“It was during that summer internship that I sort of decided, that’s exactly what I want to do! I knew that I had an interest in criminal law. I knew that I had an interest in being a trial lawyer. I learned that I was passionate about those things while I was at Tennessee State,” she said. “So when I had the internship in 2007, it sort of changed the course of what I wanted to do as a lawyer, and I immediately knew then I wanted to be a public defender.”

Johnson with TSU President Glenda Glover.

After graduating Summa Cum Laude from TSU in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in English, Johnson immediately transitioned to law school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where she graduated in August 2008.

Johnson began volunteering as a licensed attorney at the Nashville office in August 2008 and worked nights at Macy’s to support her career. Her determination paid off when her predecessor, Dawn Deaner, offered her a position in January 2009, and she hasn’t looked back.

Johnson receiving special gift from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority at Swearing-In Ceremony.

After the ceremony, Johnson became one of six TSU alums who currently serve as the first African Americans to hold their positions in Metro Nashville Government. The other five alums include: Criminal Court Clerk Howard Gentry, County Clerk Brenda Wynn, Property Assessor Vivian Wilhoite, Register of Deeds Karen Y. Johnson and Juvenile Court Clerk Lonell Matthews.

State Rep. Harold Moses Love Jr. (58th District-D), who is a TSU alum and also pastor of St. Paul’s AME Church, said TSU has a legacy of producing public servants.

The Temple Baptist Church Praise Choir perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

“Tennessee State University has always produced leaders that have blazed trails for others to follow. The significance of these six alums serving in Metro Nashville Government at this time points to the preparation that TSU provided for them, the confidence that they each had to seek election and the trust that the voters placed in them,” he said. “They embody our Univeristy Charge of ‘Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve.’”

Erica Gilmore, assistant dean of Student Contacts and Council Member at Large for the City of Nashville, shared similar sentiments.

TSU Aristocrat of Bands

“It’s truly unbelievable to have so many firsts to represent a consolidated government in so many different areas,” she said. “It’s significant because African-Americans make up 28 percent of Nashville. That means that these persons who have won have a very broad appeal, which is very important in the political arena. It means that TSU has a strong commitment to the community. When we say ‘Think. Work. Serve.’, I think the graduates are really doing that.”

Public officials from throughout Middle Tennessee attended the ceremony, including Nashville Mayor David Briley, Davidson County Property Assessor Vivian Wilhoite, who served as the mistress of ceremony. Musical selections were provided by the Aristocrat of Bands and the Temple Baptist Church Praise Choir, which shared a rousing rendition of James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

The best in HBCU Bands meets the Best in Country Music, Keith Urban and TSU

By Kelli Sharpe

 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands and country music megastar Keith Urban came together during the singer’s recent tour stop in Nashville and the show stopping performance has taken the world by storm.

Keith Urban and head drum major Hassan Moody take flight before landing in splits on stage. (Submitted photo)

The TSU world renowned band, fondly called AOB, was featured as a part of Urban’s closing song, and number one hit “Wasted Time.”  The singer introduced the band to a sold-out Bridgestone Arena.

The crowd roared with each marching step of head drum major Hassan Moody and the 40- member band ensemble. That was nothing compared to the dramatic closing that culminated when both Urban and Moody took flight and landed in splits on stage. The photo and video have gone viral on social media.

Hassan, an Atlanta, Georgia native, said it was a once in a lifetime moment and it couldn’t have happened at any other place than at TSU. After having a day to reflect, the business administration major said it’s something he will always cherish.

“You can’t explain that type of experience; the energy was absolutely unbelievable!” said Moody. “Only at TSU. My band members and I are thankful to TSU and Mr. Urban for the opportunity.”

Submitted photo.

Dr. Reginald McDonald, director of bands, said the request came from Urban unexpectedly, a day before his Nashville appearance.

“The band’s performance was amazing, and the element of surprise for the audience made our appearance even more electric,” said McDonald.

“We truly appreciate Mr. Keith Urban for giving our students and university this type of exposure on a national stage. I woke up to an email about 5:30 Thursday morning from Urban’s associate manager basically saying that he wanted the band to perform with him to his tune “Wasted Time” at his concert Friday night.”

McDonald added he informed band staff about the request and gave specific instructions for them to work out the logistics. He said the students learned a valuable life lesson as musicians.

Keith Urban, TSU Director of Bands Dr. Reginald McDonald, and band staff. (Submitted photo)

“Our students also had an opportunity to see the importance of being ready at a moment’s notice and staying ready for when the call is made. That’s how you shine. Our practice with Keith Urban was less than an hour before performing with him.”

This isn’t the first time TSU’s band has made national headlines or been in the spotlight. The AOB played on the lawn of the White House for President Barack Obama and guests in 2016 and performed at halftime of the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio. Both venues were the first for any college band.

“The university is extremely proud of our students for their spectacular performance with country music star Mr. Keith Urban,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “The Aristocrat of Bands serves as one of the institution’s greatest ambassadors as they travel around the nation, and even here at home, showcasing the best and brightest student musicians. We are a comprehensive university offering top academic programs and extracurricular activities. This iconic moment where HBCU meets country music could only happen at TSU, Nashville’s only public and most affordable university.”

Please visit the TSU homepage at www.tnstate.edu and social media to view video and photos of the performance.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

 

Nashville’s First African-American Public Defender To Hold Swearing-In Ceremony at TSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University Alum Martesha L. Johnson will be sworn in as the first African-American to serve as the Metropolitan Public Defender for Nashville-Davidson County next week.

Johnson, who was officially elected on Aug. 2 and will take office on September 1, said she decided it was time for her to seek the position when Dawn Deaner, Nashville’s current Public Defender, announced that she would not seek another term.

Martesha Johnson

The swearing-in ceremony will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 6 p.m. in the Walter S. Davis Humanities Building at TSU. It represents the crowning achievement of years of service Johnson has given since she set her sites on being a public defender when she served as an intern with the Nashville Public Defenders Office in 2007.

“It was during that summer internship that I sort of decided, that’s exactly what I want to do! I knew that I had an interest in criminal law. I knew that I had an interest in being a trial lawyer. I learned that I was passionate about those things while I was at Tennessee State,” she said. “So when I had the internship in 2007, it sort of changed the course of what I wanted to do as a lawyer, and I immediately knew then I wanted to be a public defender.”

Johnson performed as a member of the Tennessee State Aristocrat of Bands Sophisticated Ladies Dance Line during her undergraduate years at TSU.

After graduating Summa Cum Laude from TSU in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in English, Johnson immediately transitioned to law school at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where she graduated in 2008.

With her heart set on working in the Nashville Public Defenders Office, the newly licensed attorney met with the harsh reality that no new jobs were available at the office because of a hiring freeze caused by the economic recession.

“I made a decision that I was going to volunteer my services as a licensed attorney at the Nashviille office, and I did that,” said Johnson, who began volunteering in August 2008 and worked nights at Macy’s to support her career. Johnson’s determination paid off when Deaner offered her a position in January 2009, and she hasn’t looked back.

Since then Johnson has spent almost a decade serving Nashville by defending people who are accused of crimes but do not have the resources needed to hire an attorney.

“This job has been everything that I thought it would be. It is a great feeling to know that I really get to get up every single day to help people and advocate for people who need it the most,” she said. “My clients are poor. They have sometimes experienced trauma in their lives. They suffer from addictions, and a lot of things that contribute to their need to have a lawyer to represent them. I get to help them navigate through a system that is not always kind to poor people.”

Johnson with Retired TSU Assistant Professor of Pre-Law Julian W. Blackshear

Retired TSU Assistant Professor of Pre-Law Julian W. Blackshear said Johnson showed great promise during her undergraduate years at TSU.

“She stood out as being ambitious.   She really wanted to learn. She had a purpose for being in class. She soaked in everything I said, and she was hungry for legal knowledge,” said Blackshear, who founded the Pre-Law Department at TSU in 1975. “My standard quote to her all the time was ‘Succeed in spite of your obstacles, rather than fail because of them.’”

Johnson’s mother, Jacqueline Johnson, said MarTesha’s success serves as a source of inspiration for their entire family.

“This is one of the proudest moments not only for me personally but for my family as a whole. Martesha has always been very focused and very driven and has just excelled at everything she has put her hand to,” said Jaqueline, who earned her bachelor’s degree from TSU in psychology and went on to secure a master’s degree in public administration from the university in 2005, graduating the same day Martesha secured her undergraduate degree.

MarTesha Johnson with her mother, Jacqueline Johnson when the two graduated together from TSU in 2005. MarTesha earned her bachelor’s degree in Pre-Law with a minor in English, and Jacqueline earned her master’s degree in Public Administration.

“As she was growing up, I often used to tell her when I would drop her off at school, ‘Go forth and do well.’ And for me, this election as Public Defender has just been the culmination of her going forth and doing well,” said Jacqueline.

Blackshear said, with the election of Martesha, Davidson County is getting a “person of great character.”

“Martesha’s purpose embraces the notion that all people should be treated fairly, but with the end toward improving individuals to build people up rather than tearing them down. That’s the kind of person she is,” he said. “She is just one example of the many great students at Tennessee State University.”

 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

 

TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands prepares for big performance and recruiting in Texas

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Houston, Texas will serve as the backdrop for a special performance by Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands in July.

TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands

Affectionately known as the AOB, the band will be front and center during the upcoming national conference for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Members are preparing for a big show, which is extremely important as the natives believe, “everything is bigger in Texas.”

“The Aristocrat of Bands is honored to be invited and have the opportunity to perform for a prestigious audience such as Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated,” said TSU Band Director Dr. Reginald McDonald.  “This performance will also give us exposure in the Houston area. The Aristocrat of Bands Staff started vigorously recruiting the Houston market about three years ago to date,” added McDonald.

Dr. Glenda Glover, TSU’s first female and eighth president, will become the 30th international president of Alpha Kappa Alpha. The service organization is the oldest African American sorority in the country with nearly 300,000 members worldwide, in 1,000 chapters. Glover believes her leadership role with the organization will assist in recruiting talented students to TSU and enhance the university’s presence on a national stage.

“I’m truly humbled by the membership  for electing me to this position, and just as proud to have my institution, and alma mater be  part of the this special moment,” said President Glover. “Our world renowned band is one of the university’s greatest ambassadors. Band members will have center stage in front of nearly 20,000 sorority members and special guests to showcase their talents. The performance will be a proud moment for me and for the institution.”

The band is a part of several performers scheduled for the 68th national conference for the sorority.  Glover noted she was pleased that friends and sponsors made the trip possible. This means the university will not incur costs or be responsible for paying transportation, food or lodging, another major incentive for the band. McDonald said he reminds band members they represent themselves, but most importantly TSU whenever they travel.

“While we are no strangers to being on a national stage, anytime the Aristocrat of Bands has an opportunity to perform anywhere, I always remind my students that the TSU on our chest is bigger than we are.  We represent the dreams and hopes of past, present and future alumni, as well as all of our stakeholders.”

In 2014, the AOB became the first collegiate band ever to be presented at halftime of the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame game. The band and university made national headlines again in 2017 by accepting a special invitation from President Barack Obama to perform on the White House Lawn. Both President Glover and McDonald believe the presentation in Houston will continue to open more doors for the band and TSU.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Former TSU Band Member Makes History, Shares Stage with Beyoncé at Coachella

The Coachella Valley Music Festival may have been thousands of miles away from Tennessee State University and Nashville, but that didn’t stop the influence of the Aristocrat of Bands and the cultural sounds of the HBCU band experience from taking center stage at the event on Saturday night.

When mega superstar Beyoncé took the stage, former Tennessee State University band member Michael Jones performed with her as she made history as the first African American woman to headline the musical event. Jones was a part of the band and drumline that provided music for Beyoncé, in what many are calling an iconic performance.

Jones, a Florida native, along with musicians from other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), including Tennessee State University, Florida A&M University, Alabama State University, Prairie View A&M University, Hampton University, North Carolina A&T State University, Norfolk State University, Bethune-Cookman University, University of Georgia and Kennesaw State University, backed the Grammy Award-winning performer during her nearly two hour performance, which included a reunion performance with Destiny ‘s Child band mates Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland.

TSU Alum Mike Jones plays sousaphone as a member of DRUMline Live, an international tour based on the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) marching band tradition. Jones along with other members of DRUMline Live performed with Beyoncé at Coachella 2018 on Saturday. (submitted photo)

“This is tremendous exposure for our university and the other HBCUs that had band members perform with Ms. Knowles,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “Our institutions have a rich history and legacy that many may not be familiar with, but a performance highlighting our cultural presence, with someone the stature of Beyoncé, creates an incredible buzz and interest. We are thankful for her knowledge of our contributions to the fabric of education and the scholarship program she has established specifically for HBCUs.”

The singer’s website issued the release to announce the four schools to receive the newly established Homecoming Scholars Award Program for the 2018-2019 academic year, through her BeyGOOD initiative. The universities include Xavier University, Wilberforce University, Tuskegee University and Bethune-Cookman College. One winner from each school will receive $25,000 for the 2018-2019 academic year for study in various fields. This is the second year for the scholars program created by Ms. Knowles.

Beyoncé’s historic show was the first time the 36-year-old had performed on stage in over a year.  According to a press release on her website, the set was “a celebration of the homecoming weekend experience, the highest display of college pride. The energy-filled production put the spotlight on art and culture, mixing the ancient and the modern, which resonated masterfully through the marching band, performance art, choir and dance.”

Reginald McDonald, TSU associate professor of Music Education and director of Bands, said he was thrilled to see the HBCU band experience shared at Coachella and around the world.

“As an HBCU band director, it is thrilling and exciting to witness our performance style influence pop culture,” he said.  “The admiration and excitement for HBCU bands extend far beyond a football game halftime.”

He cited the TSU Aristocrat of Bands performance at the White House, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Honda Battle of the Bands and their 2016 performance with Cedric The Entertainer as examples of performances that still garner positive feedback.

Founded in 1999, Coachella is one of the largest, and most profitable music festivals in the world.  It features a mix of popular and established artists with emerging artists from genres of music including pop, rock, indie, hip hop and electronic dance music.

Jones looks to continue his musical odyssey with the iconic superstar as a member of the sousaphones section. A second Coachella performance is scheduled for this weekend.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Band Members, Music Education Majors Entertain 114 Children to Celebrate Week of the Young Child

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More than 100 area kids came to Tennessee State University’s main campus on Monday in observance of the national Week of the Young Child, April 16-20.

The event, which is usually in April, is sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and celebrates early learning, young children, their teachers and families.

At TSU, the children, ranging between ages 3-5 from North Head Start in Nashville, listened to nursery rhymes and children songs like “Old McDonald Had a Farm,” “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” performed by members of the Aristocrat of Bands and music education majors.

About 25 TSU students interacted with the children and demonstrated musical instruments like the clarinet, the French horn, trombone, and trumpets in the band room at the Performing Arts Center.

According to Dr. Reginald McDonald, director of Bands, the kids also participated in a demonstration of percussion instruments and saw clips of the TSU marching band.

“The joy on the kids’ faces showed that they were very happy with how they spent their time,” said McDonald.

He said the goal of the invitation and the interaction with the kids was to let the community know that “TSU’s music and band programs” are accessible.

“I believe that we should be accessible because there are others in the community who genuinely benefit from our accessibility. You never know, some of these kids might be here in a few years as members of the band just because of this experience today,” McDonald said.

He said the visit also allowed “our music education majors to get ‘live hands-on’ experience teaching general music.”

Throughout the week, Nashville community partners, departments and agencies will be making “fun” presentations to students at various schools and sites.

On Sunday, the city kicked off the week’s events at the Nashville Zoo, with Bouncy houses, table activities for the children, and of course, the “wonder of nature and animals to explore.”

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Aristocrat of Bands to Compete at 2018 Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Cheers and congratulations to the Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands!

The award-winning, nationally and internationally recognized marching band is on its way to yet another Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase.

The band was one of eight selected from among the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities after a fierce online voting process.

An overall winner will be selected Saturday, Jan. 27, when the final eight bands take the field in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

TSU President Glenda Glover, accompanied by administrators, faculty, students, alumni, and friends of TSU, will be in attendance to cheer on the Aristocrat of Bands.

They will compete against the Marching Maroon & White Band of Alabama A&M University, the Mighty Marching Hornets of Alabama State University, the Marching Wildcats of Bethune-Cookman UniversityHampton University’s The Marching Force, and the Purple Marching Machine of Miles College. The others are the Blue & Gold Marching Machine of North Carolina A&T State University, and the Marching Storm of Prairie View A&M University.

This will be the eighth appearance for the Aristocrat of Bands at the Honda Battle of the Bands, having performed in 2003, 2004, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

“Our students are extremely excited to be a part of this, and a tremendous opportunity for all eight HBCU bands,” said Dr. Reginald McDonald, director of Bands. “We are very proud of our students who are also matriculating in great academic standing, with more than 40 percent of band members making the Dean’s List and 80 percent matriculating toward the pursuit of their degree. We are thankful to Honda, the only corporation in America that has made this type of investment in the art form of HBCU bands.”

Tickets to the Honda Battle of the Bands are available for purchase now on the official website. The participating eight HBCUs will receive a $20,000 grant each from Honda to support their music education programs, plus travel to and accommodations in Atlanta for the Invitational Showcase.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.