Tag Archives: Reginald McDonald

TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands Thrills NFL Draft Watchers with Performance on ESPN’s ‘First Take’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Football fans across the nation who tuned into ESPN Friday morning to watch the NFL Draft in the Music City got a taste of the thrilling sound of the world-renowned Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands.

The AOB, known worldwide for their melodious musical renditions and marching prowess, were the featured guest entertainers on the nationally syndicated ESPN sports talk show, First Take, with popular hosts Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman and Will Cain.

Stephen A. Smith, host of ESPN’s First Take, interacts with members of the TSU Aristocrat of Bands following the band’s performance on the popular sports talk show. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Diehard TSU fans, friends and supporters were among the hundreds who made up the studio audience at Nissan Stadium. Daryl Rice and Brad Strode were among them.

“This is a very big deal,” said Rice, a former Flying Tiger and a 2015 graduate of TSU. “I am Big Blue true and true. I am a big First Take fan and to be able to see my fellow alumni and our band on live television and on this huge stage is an amazing experience.”

Strode, a 2015 graduate who also ran track for the Tigers and a big Fist Take fan, did not know the AOB were performing at the show until he saw the group enter the stadium.

“I was just so excited to see my school’s marching band,” Rice said. “It is always a great feeling when you see your fellow Tennessee State students in the house. It is even more exciting to see that my HBCU is here on this big stage with outstanding representation. I am just very proud.”

Daryl Rice, left, and Brad Strode, two TSU graduates, were among hundreds who saw the Aristocrat of Bands perform on First Take, the popular ESPN sports talk show. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

To kick of the show, hosts Smith, Kellerman and Cain joined band members in their opening rendition of “I am so glad I go to TSU.” The band also entertained audience members during commercial breaks with such favorite songs as “Aristocrat Opener” and “Best Band.” 

Band Director, Dr. Reginald McDonald, said it is a “huge deal” anytime the university has an opportunity to be exposed to this type of audience, whether nationally or internationally. He is thankful to the university administration for the support.

“This goes beyond recruitment for the university,” said McDonald, who added that he had less than 36 hours to prepare the band for their appearance. “It was all made easy because of the support of (TSU) President (Glenda) Glover, who immediately gave us the greenlight. We realize this is an opportunity for the world to see TSU.”

Julien Dooley, the AOB drum major, said coming to TSU has just opened him to so many opportunities. He called his mom, sister and girlfriend and friends in his hometown of Atlanta to tune in.

“One thing that I really like about the AOB is that the opportunities are plentiful,” said Dooley, a rising senior majoring in commercial music, who McDonald recruited a day after his graduation from Southwest DeKalb High School in his native Atlanta. “Since coming here, I have seen nothing but benefits like from going to the White House (to perform for the Obamas), to a studio session with (Emmy winning) music Professor Larry Jenkins, to being handpicked to do the NFL Draft on national television. I think anything with the AOB name on it is purely amazing.”

Dooley’s fellow band member, Tiara Thomas, also a rising senior majoring in political science, said she watches First Take every morning, but actually appearing on the show “was extra special.”

“I am really excited for this experience because it is something I watch at home every morning,” she said. “It is big to have an HBCU. We work really hard to brand ourselves and to get opportunities and exposures like this for our university. I am just really excited.”

Band members, along with TSU President Dr. Glenda Glover, graced the NFL red carpet the day before as a part of opening Draft Day ceremonies.

“I am so proud that our students, as band members, are included in a once-in-lifetime experience in their own backyard like the NFL Draft,” said President Glover. ”Our inclusion in the NFL Draft experience from the Draftville promotional video to opening ceremonies, and now an appearance on a nationally syndicated sports show speaks to our institution’s importance and notoriety not just in Nashville, but also across the country.”

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.

Nearly 60,000 Fans Witness Aristocrat of Bands Performance at 2015 Honda Battle of the Band Invitational Showcase

Fans also witness presentation of first-ever Honda Power of Dreams Award to TSU honoree with on-field surprise: a 2015 Honda CR-V

 

 

The Aristocrat of Bands returned to Atlanta for a sixth time to participate in the 2015 Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase January 25, performing in front of nearly 60,000 fans in the Georgia Dome.
The Aristocrat of Bands returned to Atlanta for a sixth time to participate in the 2015 Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase January 25, performing in front of nearly 60,000 fans in the Georgia Dome.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –Returning for a sixth time, the Aristocrat of Bands from Tennessee State University marched into the Georgia Dome in Atlanta January 25 and performed their high-energy showcase that has made the band famous at home and across the country.

The AOB performed in front of nearly 60,000 fans in the dome along with seven other bands from Historically Black Colleges and Universities from across the country during the 13th Annual Honda Battle of the Bands that showcased the talents and musical showmanship of more than 2,100 student musicians.

According to Dr. Robert Elliot, chair of the Music Department, the students had an opportunity to see what excellence meant in a real-world setting.

“The Honda Battle of the Bands is a class act in every way,” said Elliott. The planning was excellent, while the execution was even better, and everyone involved is treated with respect. It was an honor to be a part of this event.”

The AOB was one of eight of bands selected out of 38 bands competing for an opportunity to travel to Atlanta through a fierce online voting process. In addition to voting, students, alumni and fans of each HBCU took to social media to help their favorite marching bands advance. The band not only scored big with fans during their performance, but also with Honda, which provided each school with a $20,000 grant to support music education, plus travel to and accommodations in Atlanta for the Invitational Showcase.

“The Honda Cooperation is the only major company in the United States to make this type of significant contribution and support to HBCU bands and instrumental music education,” said Dr. Reginald McDonald, acting band director. “It was indeed an honor to be selected as one of the top eight HBCU bands in the country, and as a show of support for the selection to attend, our students put on an awesome performance.”

This was the sixth appearance for the Aristocrat of Bands at the Honda Battle of the Bands, having performed in 2003, 2004, 2011, 2012 and 2014. According to McDonald, the support of Tennessee State University student body, alumni, administration, faculty, staff and Fans was truly “breathe taking.”

“To be selected for the fourth time in five years under my leadership is confirmation that we are moving the band program here at Tennessee State University to elite status,” he added.

Audrey Stradford sits in her new 2015 Honda CR-V presented to her by American Honda Motor Co. Stratford was named the first-ever Honda Power of Dreams Award honoree for her lifelong dedication to serving HBCU students and the Tennessee State University community, and was awarded the vehicle at the 13th annual Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase on Jan. 24, 2015.
Audrey Stradford sits in her new 2015 Honda CR-V presented to her by American Honda Motor Co. Stratford was named the first-ever Honda Power of Dreams Award honoree for her lifelong dedication to serving HBCU students and the Tennessee State University community, and was awarded the vehicle at the 13th annual Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase on Jan. 24, 2015.

The showcase provided another first for schools and fans attending the event. This year, Honda awarded the first-ever Honda Battle of the Bands Power of Dreams Award, meant to honor an individual who has helped HBCU culture thrive—by helping students achieve their dreams through positive support, guidance and leadership within the institution or community.

This year, the inaugural award went to Audrey Stradford, who works as a financial aid assistant at the University, for her lifelong dedication to serving HBCU students and the Tennessee State University community. The surprising moment came when Honda presented her a new 2015 Honda CRV.

“I was floored and didn’t know what to make of it,” said ‘Miss Audrey,’ as she is known around campus. “I’ve always been one to work behind the scenes. I’ve been a giver my whole life and it was hard for me to be on the receiving end. The new car was just the icing on the cake.”

The showcase, dubbed this year as “The Power of Dreams,” was intended to 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.’”

“Honda congratulates the bands that participated in this year’s Invitational Showcase, and thanks all of the schools, students, alumni and fans who joined us to celebrate these amazing student musicians,” said Stephan Morikawa, Assistant Vice President, Corporate Community Relations, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “Honda is proud that the Invitational Showcase truly helped students realize what Honda calls The Power of Dreams.”

 

 

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Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands Selected for 13th Annual Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase

Honda Turns Spotlight on TSU “Dream Maker”

 

 

 

 

Department of Media Relations

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

About Tennessee State University

With more than 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.

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.

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