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.



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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