Tag Archives: Aristocrat of Bands

TSU, Honda Battle of the Bands Ready to “March On” to the Georgia Dome

Voting Open for Fans to Help Determine the Final Eight to Perform in Atlanta in January 2015

2014BattleOfTheBandsNASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Aristocrat of Bands from Tennessee State University is hoping to make a triumphant return to Atlanta and the Honda Battle of the Bands as one of the eight most prestigious marching bands from America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. They hope to be selected to take the Georgia Dome by storm with their incredible musical talent and electrifying showmanship.

In order to secure one of the top spots from the 38 bands attempting to do the same, the band needs everyone to vote them into the January 24, 2015 competition. Voters can visit the Honda Battle of the Bands website and vote up to six times per day for their favorite TSU band.

To date, the Aristocrat of Bands has appeared five times at the annual showcase in Atlanta beginning in 2003. They subsequently appeared in 2004, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

For 13 consecutive years, the Honda Battle of the Bands has provided the nation’s top HBCU marching bands a platform to share their unique blend of musicianship and choreography with millions of fans. This year’s theme, “March On,” serves as a reminder to students and fans that life on and off the field is a journey, and no matter the challenge, the dream or what may lie ahead, learning never stops as long as you commit to “March On.”

Now until Wednesday, Oct. 15, fans can go online and vote daily to help select the final eight bands that will perform at the 2015 Invitational Showcase. Voting ends on October 15, 2014, at midnight EDT.

“Honda is deeply committed to supporting the dreams of HBCU students by investing in their education and showcasing exceptional student musicians,” said Stephan Morikawa, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Community Relations, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “As we continue to prepare our participating band members to March On, both on the field and in life, we look forward to a thrilling and uplifting event in Atlanta.”

The 2015 Invitational Showcase will feature the first-ever Honda Battle of the Bands Power of Dreams Award. Each participating team will have the opportunity to nominate an outstanding member of their community who is working to help students achieve their dreams. Honda will then select a winner who will be recognized in Atlanta at the 2015 Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase.

For more information on the 2015 Honda Battle of the Bands, visit HondaBattleoftheBands.com.

Since its inception in 1946, and subsequently becoming a show band under the administration of second TSU President Dr. Walter S. Davis, the Aristocrat of Bands has been featured at many international and national events, including half-time shows at several NFL games, Bowl games and Classics, and Presidential Inaugurations.

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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.

Aristocrat of Bands Marches into History

TSU becomes first collegiate band to perform at Hall of Fame Halftime Show

Tennessee State University's Aristocrat of Bands performance concluded with a tremendous fireworks display during the Pro Foot Ball Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Sunday, August 3. Hall of Fame inductee Claude Humphrey was on the sidelines for the show. (photo by John S. Cross, TSU Media Relations)
Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands performance concluded with a tremendous fireworks display during the Pro Foot Ball Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Sunday, August 3. Hall of Fame inductee Claude Humphrey was on the sidelines for the show. (photos by John S. Cross, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame game in Canton, Ohio, proved to be better the second time around for the Aristocrat of Bands when they became the first collegiate band to perform the halftime show in the game’s 51-year history.

The TSU marching show band, the only collegiate band ever invited to perform at the Hall of Fame game, was first invited in 2011 when TSU Tiger great and former Chicago Bear Richard Dent was enshrined. However, the Band never made it to the field due to the NFL lockout.

But like a scene from the 2002 movie, “Drumline,” the dynamic group wowed fans with their high-energy show in the Pro Football Hall of Fame stadium parking lot. While hundreds of fans showed up for the performance, it just wasn’t the same as performing at halftime, a show the AOB has become known for both in NFL and college stadiums across the country.

“It was a little disappointing but we were fortunate to be invited back a second time, this time for Claude Humphrey, the second TSU Tiger enshrined into the Hall of Fame,” said Dr. Reginald McDonald, acting director of Bands. “It was important for us to represent the University and to celebrate the achievement of one of our family members.”

The performance by Band, according to officials at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is the first time a University band has played in the nationally televised halftime show at the annual enshrinement game that wraps up a weekend of festivities and induction ceremonies.

They can now add this honor to their already impressive list of firsts, including the first HBCU to play in a presidential inaugural parade in 1961; the first university, black or white, to play an NFL halftime show in 1955; and first HBCU invited to perform at the high school Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis last year.

“It really was an honor to not only perform for the enshrinement of one of TSU’s legendary football players, but also to bring part of the University to Canton and share our showmanship with the country. It’s something our students will never forget,” added McDonald.

AOB2The excitement started as soon as the 294-member Aristocrats ran onto historic Fawcett Stadium, a high school venue that seats only 22,000 fans. When the announcer asked the crowd if they were “ready to start the show,” the stadium erupted into deafening cheers and applause as the band broke into a rendition of “Happy” by Pharrel Williams. The eight-minute show concluded with the introduction of Humphrey, Dent and TSU president, Glenda Glover.

The show and participation in the HOF parade the day earlier, said McDonald, was an opportunity for the band to “puff out their chests.”

“This really was an opportunity to show off to the nation the high-energy showmanship of the Aristocrat of Bands,” he said. “I’ve been at the University for 14 years and director for four, and I can say this group is going to be a very special group this year and beyond.”

The Aristocrat of Bands now shifts their attention toward the John Merritt Classic halftime show at LP Field, Saturday, August 30.

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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.

Aristocrat of Bands Brings High-Energy Show to Pro Foot Ball Hall of Fame Game Aug. 3

The Aristocrat of Bands perform last year during halftime of one of the home football games at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee. The Band has been invited to perform a halftime show during the nationally televised game Sunday, Aug. 3 during the NFL Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. The Band will be in Canton to celebrate the enshrinement of TSU's great Claude Humphrey into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  (photo by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations)
The Aristocrat of Bands perform last year during halftime of one of the home football games at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee. The Band has been invited to perform a halftime show during the nationally televised game Sunday, Aug. 3 during the NFL Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. The Band will be in Canton to celebrate the enshrinement of TSU’s great Claude Humphrey into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (photo by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – They have marched and performed all across the country, from presidential inaugurations and marching competitions to nationally televised NFL halftime shows, as well as movie and concert venues.

Now the Aristocrat of Bands from Tennessee State University will head north later this summer to celebrate TSU’s great Claude Humphrey’s enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The band will perform in the nationally televised halftime show of the Hall of Fame game on Sunday, Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio.

When Dr. Reginald McDonald found out that one of TSU’s own was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, he knew the band had to be part of the celebration.

“As soon as we heard that Claude Humphrey was one of the seven NFL legends to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, we knew we had to be there,” said McDonald, acting Director of Bands. “It is important for us to represent the University to celebrate the achievement of one of our family members.”

McDonald found out the band would be the featured halftime performance the day after Super Bowl XLVIII and immediately began thinking about what they could do to make the performance memorable. However since the band was heavily into the spring semester, plans would be put on hold until this summer when members of the band return to school.

Once they do return, it will be a quick and steep learning curve, McDonald explained since they have less than three weeks to gel together as a full band when the freshmen and the upperclassmen practice as one unit.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to show off to the nation the high energy showmanship of the Aristocrat of Bands,” added McDonald. “We have about two weeks to put together an eight-minute show but we will definitely be ready. I know the people in Canton will be impressed by what we bring.”

This is the Bands’ second NFL halftime performance in less than a year. Last September, the band was invited to perform during the nationally televised game between the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome.

McDonald added it’s a lot of work preparing for halftime shows during the TSU football season along with the additional pressure of the NFL shows. But he knows it’s more than just a performance. It is also a venue to bring the TSU brand, he said, to those outside the state.

“This is an opportunity for us to recruit in a different area, perform in a different part of the country that we usually don’t get to, and show that TSU is the best marching and performing band in the country,” he said.

Since its inception in 1946, and subsequently becoming a show band under the administration of second TSU President Dr. Walter S. Davis, the Aristocrat of Bands has been featured at many international and national events, including half-time shows at several NFL games, Bowl games and Classics, and Presidential Inaugurations – the latest that of Bill Clinton in 1993.

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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.

National, International Students March into TSU Summer Band Camp

Jesus Carmona, a trombone player from Sincelejo, Colombia, takes part in a band rehearsal during the Edward l. Graves Summer High School Summer Band Camp. Carmona is one of 90 students from around the country and South America taking part in the eight-day camp learning what it takes to be part of an elite university marching band. (photo by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations)
Jesus Carmona, a trombone player from Sincelejo, Colombia, takes part in a band rehearsal during the Edward L. Graves High School Summer Band Camp. Carmona is one of 90 students from around the country and South America taking part in the eight-day camp learning what it takes to be part of an elite university marching band. (photo by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” Just ask Jose Carmona, a music student from Sincelejo, Colombia with limited English skills, who traveled nearly 2,000 miles to attend a summer camp for musicians at Tennessee State University.

Carmona is one of 90 students from around the country and South America taking part in the Edward L. Graves Summer High School Band camp through June 28. The camp, now in its third year, is known for fostering musicianship and marching expertise in high-school students from 9th to 12th grade.

“That has been the hardest part of this camp,” said Carmona through a translator. “Aside from the marching and getting up early for practice, not understanding the language has been hard. But through the music and instruction, it has all come together.”

Jose Carmona
Jose Carmona

Carmona, who is here as a part of an exchange program with 16 other members of his university band, joins students from across the U.S. who have descended on the campus for eight days to learn what it takes to be part of an elite university marching band.

According to Dr. Reginald McDonald, acting Director of Bands, students from as far as Chicago, Atlanta, Kansas City, Kansas, and Memphis, Tennessee, have come to the University to learn the rigors of performing as a member of TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands and what it takes to be successful in today’s collegiate band programs.

“This is a great opportunity for high school students to be exposed to a university setting and our music program,” he said. “When they return to their high school, they will have the tools to be a productive member of their high-school marching band.”

Also, McDonald said, many students come to the camp as a stepping-stone once they graduate from high school to become a member of the Aristocrat of Bands.

Marcus Cooper, an alto saxophone player from Oxon Hill, Maryland, said his ultimate goal is to march and play in the University’s world-renown marching band.

“This is my second time attending this camp,” said the soon-to-be high school senior. “I love everything we are learning, from the marching style and breathing, to keeping up your tone and different music styles. It has made my decision easier to eventually attend TSU and be a member of the band.”

Laurie Ordonez
Laurie Ordonez

Laurie Ordonez, a junior from Kansas City, agreed, saying that the camp will prepare her not only for college, but also a larger role in her school band when she returns to her school in the fall. Along with playing the piccolo, she is also taking part in drum major training.

“I was told by our band director at my high school that this is some of the best musical and marching experience I could get, and it would prepare me for the next phase of my musical aspirations,” she said. “In the few short days I’ve been here I’ve been able to focus on playing with more confidence, memorize music quicker, and most importantly, play loud the TSU way and not sound sloppy.”

After eight days of early-morning workouts and grueling practices, the students will have the opportunity to show off what they have learned at the end of camp. They are scheduled to perform Friday, June 27, at the Edward L. Graves Retirement Gala, honoring his 34-year career as director of the Aristocrat of Bands.

The gala takes place at 7 p.m. in Kean Hall on the main campus. In addition to paying tribute to Professor Graves, the gala will launch the Edward L. Graves Scholarship Endowment that will provide scholarships to students participating in the TSU Band.

Family members will also have the opportunity to listen to the high school musicians during “The Showcase” concert Saturday, June 28 at the Gentry Center. The concert is free and open to the public.

“I’m proud of what these young students have been able to accomplish in just few days,” added McDonald. “They sound great, they’re talented, and have an excellent music foundation that will translate into their current programs and future endeavors.”

For more information about the Gala or Showcase, contact Michelle Allen, Band Office Manager, at 615.963.5350.

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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 Drum Line Participates in World’s Largest Percussionist Convention, Festival

The Tennessee State University Drum Line  performed recently Nov. 9 at the TSU football game in Hale Stadium, and is  among several other major university percussion groups that will present exhibition performances at this year’s Marching Percussion Festival in Indianapolis. (photo by John Cross, TSU media Relations)
The Tennessee State University Drum Line performed recently Nov. 9 at the TSU football game in Hale Stadium, and is among several other major university percussion groups that will present exhibition performances at this year’s Marching Percussion Festival in Indianapolis. (photo by John Cross, TSU media Relations)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University Drum Line is among several other major university percussion groups that will present exhibition performances at this year’s Marching Percussion Festival in Indianapolis, Nov. 13-16.

The festival is part of the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, the largest percussion event in the world, featuring more than 120 concerts, clinics, master classes, labs, workshops, panels and presentations.

In addition to taking part in all of these events, TSU, only the third HBCU drum line to be invited to PASIC in it 38-year existence, will participate in the group’s first-ever drum line battle, featuring Ball State University, the University of Michigan, Indiana University, Lamar University, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of North Alabama.

“Being invited to present an exhibition performance for the Persuasive Arts Society International Convention is indeed an honor,” said Dr. Sean Daniels, assistant Band Director and Percussion Area Leader. “Participating on a global stage brings positive attention to our students as well as the institution”

According to Daniels, with more than 6,000 participating in PASIC each year, percussion artists present and perform in areas including drum set, marching, keyboard, symphonic, timpani, music technology and new music, among others.

In one-on-one competition, TSU will go against the University of Cincinnati in the Drum Line Battle, while in the College Snares, senior Music major Steven Phillips (Solo Snare Drum), will represent TSU against representatives from Southern Arkansas University, University of Texas at Austin, Missouri Western State University and Troy University.

In College Key Board, Malcolm Jackson, junior Music Education major (Solo Marimba), will be the face of the Aristocrat of Bands Drum Line against those from the University of South Carolina, Mississippi State University, Texas A&M University-Commerce, Lamar University and UT Martin.

Derrick Greene, junior Music Education major (Solo Timpani), will perform in exhibition in the College Timpani.

“I am excited about this event and the amount of knowledge our students will gain from attending this year’s PASIC convention. I am confident that our students will cherish this experience for many years to come,” Daniels added.

PASIC, a music service organization based in Indianapolis, promotes percussion education, research performance and appreciation throughout the world. The organization is considered the central source for information and networking for percussionists and drummers of all ages.

 

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

 

 

About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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.

Drum Major Devyn Miles Marches in the Footprints of Trailblazers for Change

Devyn Miles performs with the Aristocrat of Bands recently at LP Field during the John Merritt Classic. Miles is the third female drum major in the marching band’s nearly 70-year history, and the first in almost 20 years. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)
Devyn Miles performs with the Aristocrat of Bands recently at LP Field during the John Merritt Classic. Miles is the third female drum major in the marching band’s nearly 70-year history, and the first in almost 20 years. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

Atlanta Native Only the Third Female in History to Lead TSU Marching Band

 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Don’t be fooled by Devyn Miles’ lanky, 110-pound frame with a baby smile that will charm even the toughest heart.

At 5 feet 10 inches tall, she does not settle for the conventional. In fact, she challenges the status quo.

And that, along with hard work, has earned her front-row presence with the Aristocrat of Bands, as the only female drum major on the Tennessee State University 221-member marching show band.

Miles’ presence breaks a long all-male dominance of the now four-member squad, considered the heartbeat of the band. She becomes only the third female drum major in the marching band’s nearly 70-year history, and the first in almost 20 years.

“I had been watching and wondering how come there is no girl up there,” said Miles, a junior Computer Science major with concentration in Bioinformatics, and a French horn player in the marching band and the Wind Ensemble.

After being with the band for three years, Miles was just not pleased with the continued absence of a female on the leading team, referred to as the “Fantastic 4,” although she knew becoming a drum major would require a lot of work.

Along with being a drum major for the AOB, Miles also plays French horn in the marching band and the Wind Ensemble. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)
Along with being a drum major for the AOB, Miles also plays French horn in the marching band and the Wind Ensemble. (photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

“Just then the call came out for applicants to try out for two drum major spots, and immediately I said to myself, ‘This is your chance Devyn,’” the Atlanta native said. “But there were some key requirements. Before even applying you had to have proven leadership skills, a minimum 2.7 GPA, and playing ability.”

For Miles, those seemed to be the easy part. She was averaging almost a 3.0, had been playing instruments since middle school, and she knew she could lead.  She applied and made the final cut as the only female along with four males to compete for the two spots.

Miles was ready for what laid ahead – the auditions and conditioning. In fact, according to Acting Band Director, Dr. Reginald McDonald, Miles was a formidable competitor in the tryout. She asked for no favors, and wanted no special treatment because she was a female.

“Actually what helped Devyn during the try-out process was that she did not look different from the men,” McDonald said. “She went out of her way to make sure that she was able to keep up with the men and that no one in our audience was able to distinguish the one female from the three males until they took off their hats.”

In the long history of the marching band, Miles’ team of applicants was the first group to go through a tryout to become drum majors. Prior to spring 2013, McDonald said drum majors were selected by the band director.

“First I was scared and felt some intimidation about the amount of work involved in the tryout, including a lot of practice,” Miles said. But she was used to hard work. Playing the French horn, arguably the most difficult brass instrument to master, one must practice a lot. And, that she did in the tryout, to master every move, step, detail, and definitely, throwing and catching the mace.

“You can’t let your mace fall; it’s sacred,” Miles said, adding, “I set my mind to it with a lot of practice until I found a comfortable way to do it.”

Miles was selected along with another male.  Today, she is a key part of the “Fantastic 4” – standing tall, moving in unison with the others and gracefully tossing and catching her mace – as she and the other three drum majors whistle and signal commands to their fellow marchers.

“Devyn is a very capable part of our team and I am glad to have her as a member of the Fantastic 4,” said Semaj Wansley, head drum major and a senior Music major from Moss Point, Miss. “I admire her work ethic. She overcomes those difficult obstacles placed before her, and I am sure that’s going to take her far in life.”

While Miles is thankful to her fellow band members and directors for their support, she can only imagine the difficulty her earlier compatriots faced more than 30 years ago (when the band allowed its first female) to make it possible for her to even dream of becoming a drum major.

“A lot of people supported me and there was no resentment toward me, and I thank them for that because if it was not for that support I probably wouldn’t be here,” Miles said. “I feel very fortunate and blessed because I heard it was not so smooth for the other females who were here before me. Their struggle and perseverance helped to pave the way for me.”

Felicia Carter Johnson was one of those females. As the first woman band member to become a drum major at TSU, Johnson, a Birmingham, Ala., native, had a bumpy start.

“I was teaching a dance routine when Prof. (Edward) Graves asked me if I was interested in becoming a drum major,” said Johnson, a 1983 graduate (Biology), then a sophomore with a dual role of playing the tenor saxophone in the marching band and the baritone saxophone in the Jazz Band.

She agreed but little did she know the amount of resentment she would receive from her fellow band members.

“I was resented mainly by the men and some even quit because I was asked to join, and that really hurt me,” Johnson said. “But I realized that I was a musician first, and I didn’t think it (drum major) was handed to me. I felt I earned it because I was just as qualified and good as any of them. There were many others who supported me and some of those who quit started coming back when they saw how well the band was doing. Some apologized to me later.”

Johnson’s perseverance, talent and leadership showed that women were just as capable as men, and paved the way for other women such as Quanda Watkins (’92 – Sociology, trombone) of Atlanta, who would later become only the second female TSU drum major, and now Miles. These women, together, prove that anything is possible. You just have to have the courage to steer ahead.

“I am glad I didn’t just think about wanting to be a drum major. I saw the opportunity and I went for it,” said Miles, whose dream is to become a music producer or arranger.

For now, Miles is making sure her mace never falls, and staying in step with the “Fantastic 4.”

Don’t forget to come out on Saturday, Oct. 26, when the “Fantastic 4” and the Aristocrat of Bands lead the TSU Homecoming parade down historic Jefferson Street.

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John A. Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331


About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university and is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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 celebrates 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu

AOB Preps for Primetime (video)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Courtesy of WKRN Channel 2) – The Tennessee State University band is taking their show on the road to be part of a nationally televised game.

The 221-member group known as the Aristocrat of Bands (AOB) will perform during halftime of the Rams-49ers matchup Thursday night in St. Louis.

“We love what we do,” said Head Drum Major Semaj Wansley. “The crowd, they come for a good show, and we give it to ’em.”

The band was already scheduled to be in St Louis for Saturday’s Gateway Football Classic between TSU and Central State University (CSU), when they were given the go-ahead for the NFL gig by a TSU alumnus who works for the Rams organization.

As an Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) marching band, the high-steppers put on a show like no other.

“Doing a halftime show for us is a 40- or 50-minute aerobic exercise, and so we have to first make sure everybody’s in good shape and things of that nature,” said Dr. Reginald McDonald, Director of Bands at TSU.

“Cardio,” added Rocile Cain. “Cardio really helps and once it’s time to perform the adrenaline kicks in. So that helps, too.”

(video courtesy of NewsChannel5)

Cain is captain of the Sophisticated Ladies, the dance team that accompanies the instrumental ensemble.

The AOB spent weeks practicing for not only the halftime show, but also two other routines for Gateway Classic events.

“It’s somewhat difficult, but it’s all keeping everything in your head focused,” Wansley said.

“(It’s all about) going over everything more than once, and just making sure we have it and it’s perfected,” said Cain.

The AOB has a history of high-profile performances since its inception in 1946. The group performed during the Presidential Inauguration of Former President Bill Clinton in 1993. In recent years, they have performed at several home games of the Tennessee Titans.

Dr. McDonald told Nashville’s News 2 the band tailors every performance for the specific audience.

While the group marched for News 2 cameras Tuesday morning, the full performance scheduled for Thursday night is top secret until showtime.

“We want to kind of keep some things as a surprise, but we do promise to entertain a national audience,” McDonald said. “And we promise to entertain the people in the St. Louis area that have never seen a band like our band before.”

The AOB is scheduled to leave campus en route to St. Louis Thursday morning.

Thursday night’s game will be televised on the NFL Network.

 

 

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John A. Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331


About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university and is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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 celebrates 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu

Aristocrat of Bands to Perform During Thursday Night NFL Game

The Aristocrat of Bands perform last year during halftime of one of the home football games at Hale Stadium. The Band has been invited to perform a halftime show during the nationally televised game Sept. 26 between the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. (photo by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations)
The Aristocrat of Bands perform last year during halftime of one of the home football games at Hale Stadium. The Band has been invited to perform a halftime show during the nationally televised game Sept. 26 between the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams in the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. (photo by Rick DelaHaya, TSU Media Relations)

TSU takes the field Sept. 26 during 49ers-Rams game

NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – They have marched in presidential inauguration parades and thrilled audiences across the country with their showmanship and musical versatility. They have played halftime shows for the NFL in front of thousands of fans from Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and in their hometown of Nashville, Tenn.

Now the Aristocrat of Bands from Tennessee State University can add St. Louis to the list of venues played when they march into the Edward Jones Dome Thursday, Sept. 26 and take the field at halftime during the nationally televised game between the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams.

“This is a real honor,” said Dr. Reginald McDonald, acting director of Bands. “There are a lot of college bands in the country and only a very few ever get the chance to play in this type of venue. We are excited to perform in a different market and let the Midwest know what TSU is all about.”

The opportunity to play during halftime, according to McDonald, came about because the band will be in St. Louis for the Gateway Classic football game later that week, and he was looking for another venue to play and help spread the TSU name.

While reading the newspaper, he noticed that the Rams were playing a Thursday night game on the NFL Network and jumped on the opportunity to make it happen. The staff contacted the senior director of communications for the team, who just happens to be a TSU alumnus.

“We contacted Artis Twyman who has been with the Rams since 2003 and approached him with the idea,” explained McDonald. “He let us know within two days that we would be performing a six-minute show.”

As soon as Twyman was contacted, he knew it was something he had to make happen. Always looking for new talent, he approached team executives and showed them a YouTube video of a recent performance by the band, and the executives were hooked.

“Everybody thought it was a great idea and excited about the University performing in front of 62,000 fans,” said Twyman. “Not that many people in the St. Louis area have seen a show band like the Aristocrat of Bands. I am excited not only about showcasing them here in front of our fans, but also to a national audience.”

While the students and staff are excited about appearing in primetime and performing in front of a national audience, it won’t come easy and will take a lot of hard work. The freshman band members arrive the beginning of August, with upperclassmen arriving Aug. 18. The band will have two weeks to prepare for the first home game, the John Merritt Classic, on Sept. 1, and then devote practice time to the four performances they have scheduled in St. Louis over a tree-day period.

“We will have 12 days to put together the NFL halftime program, the pep rally for the Gateway Classic and parade, then a separate halftime show for the classic,” added McDonald. “All the performances will be different, and will surprise and thrill the crowds. It will be exciting for everybody.”

The Aristocrat of Bands have been performing NFL halftime shows in Nashville for the Tennessee Titans since the team relocated to the state, playing at one or two home games each season. As ambassadors of the University, the performance in St. Louis, according to McDonald, will enable the band to spread their recruiting reach to the Midwest, especially since many may have not been exposed to the high-energy performance styles of an HBCU marching band.

“This is the first time we have been to the area and people will get to see the showmanship that is the Aristocrat of Bands,” said McDonald. “This is an opportunity for us to recruit in a different area, perform in a different part of the country that we usually don’t get to, and show that TSU is the best marching and performing band in the country.”

The Aristocrat of Bands will perform during halftime, Thursday, Sept. 26. The game between the 49ers and Rams will be televised on the NFL Network beginning at 7:25 p.m. CDT. They will also perform during halftime of the Gateway Classic, Saturday, Sept. 28, beginning at 2 p.m. also at the Edward Jones Dome.

Since its inception in 1946, and subsequently becoming a show band under the administration of second TSU President Dr. Walter S. Davis, the Aristocrat of Bands has been featured at many international and national events, including half-time shows at several NFL games, Bowl games and Classics, and Presidential Inauguration – the latest that of Bill Clinton in 1993.

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John A. Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331


About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university and is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. 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 celebrates 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu