AOB thrills in 2022 Rose Parade; band wows many in ‘West Coast swing’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands once again showcased its excellence to the world with a spectacular performance in the 2022 Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.  

TSU President Glenda Glover receives rousing acknowledgement as her image is projected on the jumbotron in the Arena, during the AOB’s halftime show for the Los Angeles Lakers’ game. (Photo by Aaron Grayson, TSU Media Relations)

One of only four university marching bands and the only one from a historically black college or university (HBCU) to participate in this year’s parade in Pasadena, California, the AOB also captivated huge crowds and fans in a “West Coast swing” that included performances in Disneyland Park, the California African American Museum, and a halftime show for the Los Angeles Lakers in the Arena, formerly Staples Center.  

TSU President Glenda Glover, who traveled to California with a large group of TSU supporters and alumni to cheer on the AOB, also received rousing applauses during the various stops, including a cheering acknowledgement when her image was projected on the jumbotron in the Staples Center. 

The TSU Aristocrat of Bands march in the 133rd Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California, to cheers from the thousands of spectators. (Photo by Aaron Grayson, TSU Media Relations)

“This is one of the most exciting moments for us and especially in the lives of these students to be able to represent the university at the Rose Parade,” said Dr. Glover before leaving for Pasadena. “This is so special to represent TSU, the state of Tennessee, and HBCUs. That is just phenomenal.” 

The Aristocrat of Bands is celebrating 75 years of existence this year. Officials call the appearance in the Rose Parade the highlight of the anniversary celebration, themed “75 Years of Excellence.” TSU was invited to participate in the Tournament of Roses last year, but the parade was cancelled due to the pandemic. 

President Glover joins the Los Angeles Chapter of the TSUNAA in presenting a plaque of appreciation to Director of Bands, Dr. Reginald McDonald. From left, are Charles Galbreath, TSUNAA National President; LaVonne Williams, President of the LA Chapter; Dorothy Thornhill, VP of the LA Chapter; Dr. McDonald; and President Glover. (Photo by Aaron Grayson, TSU Media Relations)

“In a perfect sense, us getting the opportunity to do the parade this year actually aligns well with this very significant year of the AOB,” said Director of Bands, Dr. Reginald McDonald, when the university received the reissued invitation. “This is the 75th year of the existence of the Tennessee State University AOB. The capstone performance of the anniversary is definitely the Tournament of Roses.”

With the parade and the “West Coast swing” now under their belt, band members and students can’t say enough about the experience, excitement and opportunity afforded them to represent their university. 

TSU alum and Tennessee State Rep. Dr. Harold Love, Jr., who traveled to California to support the AOB, makes a statement at the Tournament of Roses Parade celebration. (Photo by Aaron Grayson, TSU Media Relations)

“As a graduating senior, my California experience was an amazing way to end my time in the Aristocrat of Bands,” said Tiara Thomas, who plays the French Horn in the band. “Each performance was electric and allowed us to make our mark in California. This was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.” 

Fellow band member and lead drum major Travion Crutcher added, “My experience on the Aristocrat of Bands’ tour through California was truly amazing. We had the opportunity to showcase to the world what makes the AOB different from other marching bands. This trip was filled with memorable moments created with friends and with once-in-a-lifetime performances. Thank you to everyone who had a part in making this experience possible for me and my fellow band members.”

Kiesha Nix

At the Arena, the AOB followed a longtime Lakers tradition, in which the HBCU selected to perform in the Rose Parade is also invited to perform at a Lakers’ game during the school’s visit. But this year, Lakers officials said the AOB’s performance was “out of this world.” 

“No coincidence that both the TSU Aristocrat of Bands and the NBA are both celebrating 75 years of excellence and triumph,” said Kiesha Nix, vice president of charitable affairs and executive director of the Lakers Youth Foundation. “The Lakers count it a privilege to be a part of this epic moment in time and to make lifelong memories for the TSU students!”  

Band members Travion Crutcher, lead drum major, left; and Tiara Thomas, French horn player and TSU Student Trustee, thank the audience on behalf of the AOB during the Tournament of Roses Parade Celebration. (Photo by Aaron Grayson, TSU Media Relations)

Overall, band director McDonald said he is grateful for the opportunity and support from fans and supporters, and glad that the “students gave it their all with outstanding and superb” performances in all of their appearances. 

“The experience in California was really great. Our students were outstanding in their performances, and remarkable in how they conducted themselves. It says a lot about our students, our band staff and just everybody involved,” McDonald said. “We are still getting positive feedback from folks at all of our events. I must say thank you to our alumni. They came in droves like at Homecoming or at a classic game. Their support was overwhelming.” 

The Sophisticated Ladies of the AOB strike a pose at the Tournament of Roses Parade Celebration. (Photo by Debbi Howard)

California is home to one of the largest concentrations of TSU alumni. Many attended the parade, while others, including fans from across the nation, traveled to cheer their “beloved AOB.” 

Featured photo by Aaron Grayson
The TSU Aristocrat of Bands march in the 133rd Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, California, to cheers from the thousands of spectators

Department of Media Relations

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