Tag Archives: Dr. Reginald McDonald

Tennessee State University’s World-Renowned Marching Band to Perform at the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons’ Home Opener

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands will be front and center Sept. 15 when the Atlanta Falcons take to the field in their season home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The marching band has been invited to perform at half-time of the Falcons-Eagles game in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the second AOB NFL invitation this season. The band will also perform during the half-time show of the Tennessee Titans-San Francisco 49ers game at Nissan Stadium on Oct. 6.

Just a day after performing at the Southern Heritage Classic, the Aristocrat of Bands will be in Atlanta to perform in the half-time show of the Falcons’ home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Photo by Lalita Hodge, TSU Media Relations)

For Atlanta native Julien Dooley, a drum major with the AOB, performing in his hometown, especially in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, is special. He knows his family will be thrilled, but he plans on surprising them.

“I have not told anyone yet, but this is just so exciting,” said Dooley, a senior commercial music major and a graduate of Atlanta’s Southwest DeKalb High School, who also plays trombone for the AOB.

“I am a huge fan of the Atlanta Falcons. It is very exciting that the AOB gets the opportunity to perform for the Falcons, which means I get to go back home, something I rarely get to do because of our busy band schedule.”

Dr. Reginald McDonald, TSU’s director of bands, said he received the Falcons’ invitation last week, with a choice to perform at any one of their next three home games. The band performs at the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis between TSU and Jackson State University on Saturday, the day before the Falcons game in Atlanta.

“Our preference was the Sunday after the Southern Heritage Classic. Needless to say, that’s going to be an extremely busy weekend for us again,” he said, noting the band’s back-to-back performances at the John Merritt Classic on Aug. 31 in Nashville, and the Battle of the Bands competition in Houston the following day.

“One thing we learned last week that even after the John Merritt Classic our kids did a great job. We got on the bus and drove 14 hours to Houston. The show in Houston was even better than the one we did Saturday night. So, we know that our kids are performers and they will rise to the occasion.”

McDonald, who previously performed for the Falcons as a high school band leader at Southwest DeKalb  (1999 playoffs – Falcons vs. 49ers) said going to Atlanta is also personal and special.

“That was a huge moment in my career as a young man, and to have that opportunity 20 years later as a college band director, is even more significant,” said McDonald. “This is a market where we get a lot of our band kids from. Majority are from Memphis and West Tennessee, the next largest group – 30 percent – of our kids come from the Atlanta area , and those connections that I have with band directors from Atlanta and the school system are tremendous.”

Sophomore Tiara Thomas, a political science major from Olive Branch, Mississippi, plays the French Horn in the AOB. She said the invitation to Atlanta gives band members the chance to play in another NFL arena away from home.

“I am really excited because normally (since she came to TSU) we only perform for our home NFL team – the Titans,” said Thomas, a member of the TSU Honors College, with a 3.9 grade point average. “So, to be invited to a whole other state to showcase our talent, that’s really big.”

The Aristocrat of Bands made global headlines last week when Lizzo, a rising star topping the charts with her hit “Truth Hurts,” gave a shout out to the band. During the halftime of TSU’s game against Mississippi Valley State at the John Merritt Classic, the AOB included Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” in its medley. They also delivered a repeat performance the following day at the National Battle of the Bands in Houston, Lizzo’s hometown.

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands Gets Shout Out from Pop Star Lizzo for ‘Truth Hurts’ Medley

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University world famous marching band has done it again.

Lizzo, a rising star topping the charts with her hit “Truth Hurts,” gave a shout out to Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands.

The Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands have performed at major events and places, including the White House for former President Barack Obama and and First Lay Michelle Obama. (Photo by John Cross)

During halftime of TSU’s game against Mississippi Valley State on Aug. 31, the Aristocrat of Bands included Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” in its medley. They also delivered a repeat performance Sunday at the National Battle of the Bands in Houston, Lizzo’s hometown.

TSU sophomore Paula Rodriquez, also a Houston native, was elated to hear Lizzo call out her school.

“It feels great because I have a sister who went to Grambling and always bragging about Grambling having the best band, but I tell you AOB is doing great getting recognition from all over and now by Lizzo, it is just great,” said Rodriquez, a computer science major. “I am from Houston and Lizzo is also from Houston. It is great to be recognized so far away from home.”

Zack Glover, a junior mechanical engineering major from Atlanta, expressed the same sentiment about his school.

“Lizzo cosigning the Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands is a positive direction for the band,” Glover said. “It shows their hard work will be recognized by other hardworking artists, and through her, other stars who did not know about this great band will certainly know now.”

In a note to university administrators, Dr. Reginald McDonald, director of bands, could not hide his excitement.

“Since our performance in Houston this past weekend, we have received a lot of positive social media buzz from the artist Lizzo for our rendition of her song ‘Truth Hurts,’” McDonald said. “I estimate that over 4.7 million people have seen her tribute to the Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands.”

A former marching band member and flutist herself, Lizzo tweeted overnight, giving props to TSU, specifically how they incorporated “Truth Hurts” in their medley performance at the National Battle of the Bands in Houston.

“Truth Hurts” has reached to the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

Lizzo is coming to Nashville on Sept. 30 for a stop on her “I Love You Too” tour at Ryman Auditorium.

The AOB is not new to national or international recognition. They have performed at the White House, at NFL games, and appeared at events and performed with many other big stars.

During the recent NFL Draft in Nashville, the AOB thrilled fans with a performance on ESPN’s “First Take.” Percussionists from the band performed in the Rose Bowl Parade. The AOB performed with country music legend Keith Urban, and performed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Catch the award-winning AOB performing this Saturday at the TSU vs MTSU game in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and on Sept. 14 at the Southern Heritage Classic  in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Future music composer says TSU education is paving the way for a successful career

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Jakori Hollinger’s career goal is to own an orchestra company to compose music for film, television and artists. He believes he is well on his way at Tennessee State University.

“I am in the right place,” says the junior music education major from Montgomery, Alabama. “Tennessee State University has a great music program with well-rounded professors, and being in the heart of Nashville, a major center for music and entertainment, makes it so much better.”

Jakori Hollinger

Hollinger, a highly recruited and multi-talented student from Jefferson Davis High School, came to TSU with a near 3.7 grade point average. In high school, the first-degree black belt was trumpet section leader and drum major in the marching band.

”Being a part of the band played a heavy role in my decision to come to Tennessee State University,” says Hollinger, adding that his interest in music developed by accident.

“When I was in the 9th grade, I had a choice of going to the marching band or joining some type of club in school. For some reason, the name marching band had a ring to it that appealed to me. I tried it out and it stuck with me. I liked the people; I really liked the atmosphere. After that, my love for music just grew.”

At TSU, Hollinger is a member of the world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands, a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society (with a 3.6 GPA), a member of the student branch of the Tennessee Educators Association, and a member of Eta Xi Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America.

Dr. Reginald McDonald, TSU’s director of bands, describes Hollinger as very mild-mannered and a hard worker who never complains.

“I just have been extremely pleased with him,” says McDonald. “He’s another example of how the Aristocrats don’t take lightly their responsibility as major ambassadors for our university, and also living the true-life student musician. That’s Jakori.”

With a concentration in instrumental music, Hollinger says he plans to go to graduate school to study composition and some day teach music on the secondary or collegiate level. Like most of his professors, who are TSU graduates, he would like to come back to his college alma mater to give back.

“All of them have been in the industry. They have actually done great things and are very successful,” says Hollinger, about his professors. “For most of them to come back and are teaching us the dos and don’ts on how to be successful in the business is amazing.”

Hollinger adds that TSU has been good to him. Many things stand out during his college career, but being a part of the Aristocrat of Bands as a freshman, when they performed for former President Barack and Michelle Obama at the White House, is one “I will never forget.”

“Hopefully, I plan to finish my career by being … an arranger/composer, as a way to give back to my alma mater,” says Hollinger.

For more information on the TSU Aristocrat of Bands, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/aristocratofbands/

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 7,000 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.

 

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.

Unflagging commitment: Tennessee State University student pursues dreams through Aristocrat of Bands

Courtesy: The Tennessean

During her first two years in the Tennessee State University band, Deprea Crane lived off campus — on the other side of Nashville — a two-hour city bus ride away.

She couldn’t afford otherwise.

Deprea Crane (Tennessean Photo)

So on the mornings of flag corp pre-drills, she would get up at 3 a.m. to catch a pair of buses from beyond the airport to school.

And after late-night practice, she would again endure the long bus ride that would put her home around 1 a.m.

But she never missed a rehearsal. And she never fretted the sleeplessness.

Band, to her, is one of the best things in life.

“I just love doing it,” Crane gushes, her caramel-colored eyes brightening. “I love performing.”

On Saturday, Jan. 27, Crane and TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands performed in one of the most prestigious events of the year as part of the Honda Battle of the Bands in Atlanta.

‘Exciting and humbling’

The annual live showcase was created to celebrate and support the excellence of college marching bands at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

On Jan. 27 Crane took part in the Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational. (Tennessean Photo)

“The Honda Battle of the Bands is basically a showcase to allow people to see the top eight black college bands in the country,” says Dr. Reginald McDonald, TSU’s band director. “There’s no placement in regards to first, second or third. By being selected you’ve won.”

Each year, eight bands are selected from across the country to perform. The high-stepping, drum-thundering theatrics and music become a show-stopping event for thousands of spectators.

At one point during its performance, the Aristocrat of Bands spelled out “OPRAH” — who received a degree in Mass Communication from TSU and has provided scholarships for students at her alma mater.

“Everyone in the building, please give it up for Tennessee State University alum Miss Oprah Winfrey,” the announcer said over the band. “O, are you running for president in 2020?”

Being chosen for the Honda Battle of the Bands means rigorous practice schedules that must be juggled with class and homework demands.

But the reward, for many of the marching Aristocrats, goes beyond the field on which they play.

Every school participating in the Honda Battle of the Bands receives a $20,000 grant. At TSU, which will mark its eighth appearance at the event, that money goes to further support its music education program.

“Several kids in the band are currently here at TSU because of that commitment,” says McDonald. “It’s refreshing and exciting and humbling to me as a band director.”

For Crane, it’s personal.

Making music a visual experience 

Crane is paying her own way through college.

A Nashville native, the business information systems major is a member of the Honors College. She holds a 3.6 grade point average and has made the dean’s list each semester.

She will graduate this spring, a year early.

And every bit of her schooling has been funded through state and school scholarships.

That includes support from the Battle of the Bands grant. In fact, this year she is able to live on campus because of that aid.

But her schedule is still grueling.

Last semester she had three night classes. This semester she has more. That means taking a shuttle to TSU’s downtown campus and then hopping back on that same bus to the main campus — and then sprinting to band practice.

When she rushes in just after 7 p.m., her book bag slung over her shoulder, she’s already missed an hour. She quickly has to catch up on changes in choreography, learning new moves and new positioning.

But as she swings the silver pole of her big blue flag, artfully weaving it behind her back and tossing it in circles above her head, she doesn’t stress. She smiles.

This is her happy place.

And the whips and ripples from the blue cloth she flings are her favorite type of band accompaniment.

“We show visually what the music is saying,” she says. “In a band, you have to be very attuned with what you hear, but for us, we are able to show it.”

The White House, Atlanta and more

These students get a lot to show for it.

In 2016, the band performed on the White House lawn at a reception honoring the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama were there that day, as were music icon Quincy Jones, former basketball star Kobe Bryant and actor Samuel L. Jackson, to name a few.

“Being a part of this band has opened up so many avenues for me,” Crane says. “And has opened up my eyes to so many things.

“We went to the White House. That’s not something you can just say that you did because you went to college. That’s an experience because you were a part of a prestigious unit, a band.

“We all do this together, we all work hard together, that way we can all benefit together.”

It’s all about unity

And every appearance at the Honda Battle of the Bands means performing with the top programs among HBCU bands in America.

“Any time you have something of that caliber it brings out your best,” McDonald says.

For Crane, the showcase — which is more like a talent show than a competition — is about unity.

“You get to connect with other people that enjoy something as much as you do,” she says. “To come to college and choose to do band, you have to have a lot of dedication and really love something like this to be a part of it.

“To find people who are like-minded, that is absolutely wonderful.”

And worth every bus ride.

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.