Tag Archives: Grammy-award winning

TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands readies for historic Juneteenth celebration at the White House

Tennessee State University will be well represented when the Aristocrat of Bands performs at the White House Juneteenth celebration later today, Tuesday, June 13. The Grammy-award winning band, fondly called AOB, will be a part of an all-star music event as President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden host dignitaries for the first Juneteenth Concert on the White House South Lawn. The festivities will start at 7pm EST.

The band held a final rehearsal, at Eastern Senior High School in Washington, DC, before the big performance. Others set to perform include fellow Grammy winners Jennifer Hudson and the Fisk University Jubilee Singers. 

The nation will officially observe Juneteenth on Monday, June 19. President Biden signed the Juneteenth holiday into law in 2021. Hundreds of thousands of Americans celebrate Juneteenth to highlight the end of slavery. Juneteenth is the 12th federal holiday, and the first since Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was signed in 1983.

Click here for video from rehearsal.

Celebrating community, culture and music other confirmed appearances will also include the following artists:

Audra McDonald

Broadway Inspirational Voices

Cliff “Method Man” Smith

Colman Domingo

Hampton University Concert Choir


Maverick City Music

Morgan State University Marching Band – The Magnificent Marching Machine

Nicco Annan

Patina Miller

Step Afrika!

“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band The concert is also taking place during Black Music Month.

About Juneteenth

Juneteenth, which has also been referred to as Black Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, not only marks the abolition of slavery in the state of Texas on June 19, 1865, but is also a historic moment in American history and the culmination of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that was written three years prior.


TSU Aristocrat of Bands makes successful, historic debut at CMA Fest

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Grammy-award-winning Aristocrat of Bands continues to go where no other band has gone! This time, it was the 2023 Country Music Association Fest (CMA) in downtown Nashville, serving as the opening act. Early morning concertgoers rocked to the soulful sounds of AOB and watched the Sophisticated Ladies, creating an unforgettable HBCU band experience. Thursday marked another successful and historic performance as the TSU band became the first collegiate band to perform at the four-day music festival.

AOB members before hitting the stage at the 2023 Country Music Association Fest (CMA), in downtown Nashville as the opening act.

“This is important because people don’t usually associate country music with HBCU bands, said Hailey Russell, a Nashville native who is a piccolo section leader for AOB. “So, us performing today felt like bridging a gap and letting us celebrate music all around.”

Russell said the best part of the overall experience was kicking off the CMA Fest Hall of Fame Ceremony with a performance on the John Seigenthaler pedestrian bridge. “Playing on the pedestrian bridge with everyone who walked past being able to enjoy our music even if they weren’t there for the CMA Fest was my favorite part.”

AOB member Jayden Stitchcomb walks up the steps with his instrument, ready to debut at the CMA Fest.

TSU graduate student Jibril Lee, who plays the trumpet, said he was very excited about the outcome of the crowd and their performance. “It was a different stage, a different environment and it was amazing,” Lee said. “I’m feeling pretty excited about the future of AOB performances of this magnitude, like the CMA Fest.”

The massive crowd, at the Riverfront Stage, also roared with applause as the band accompanied local 8th grade student Ariah McEwen, who sang the National Anthem.

AOB and the Sophisticated Ladies rocked the crowd with an unforgettable HBCU band experience.

Assistant band director Larry Jenkins said the performance represented everything AOB and the university stands for. “This was an amazing performance,” Jenkins said. “I am glad we were able to represent the university on this stage and that the crowd got to experience the culture as we know it.”

While AOB’s director Dr. Reginald McDonald said he is grateful that the students took time out of their summer to be a part of CMA Fest memories. “For them to give up two weeks of their summer to be here for TSU, is truly amazing,” McDonald said.

“I am feeling extremely proud right now. This is the opportunity for people to see the excellence of TSU.”

To watch AOB’s debut at CMA Fest, visit TSU’s YouTube.

AOB accompanied IT Crestwell Middle School student Ariah McEwen, who sang the National Anthem on the Riverfront Stage at CMA Fest.

Next week AOB members will help celebrate the nation’s first official observance of Juneteenth with President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden at the White House on June 13.

AOB is also hosting their 10th Annual Edward L. Graves High School Summer Band Camp from June 11-17, marking this year as the largest High School Band Camp ever with 267 kids registered from across the country.

TSU’s Grammy-award winning Aristocrat of Bands makes historic performance at the Grand Ole Opry

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Grammy-award winning Aristocrat of Bands marched through the doors of the Grand Ole Opry with Tiger spirit for their historic debut in front of thousands.

TSU’s Grammy-award winning Aristocrat of Bands debut at the Grand Ole Opry April 4, 2023. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Fondly referred to as AOB, the band has had many firsts, with appearances across country at several iconic venues.

Now, the trailblazing band can add to its list of ‘first to do it’ following their debut at the Grand Ole Opry on April 4.

“Being at Opry tonight as an HBCU band … this opportunity is breathtaking,” said AOB’s director Dr. Reginald McDonald. “To be a band of firsts, we are excited. This is another opportunity for our students to learn beyond the classroom.”

TSU Sophisticated Ladies debut at the Grand Ole Opry. (Photo by Jenai Hayes)

There were about 80 band members and five Sophisticated Ladies that participated in the 12-minute performance.

“It feels so good to be here,” said Joshua Knox, an AOB drum major from Detroit, Michigan. “Being able to perform at this historic stage makes everything so great being here with my fellow band members.”

AOB performed two songs off their Grammy-award winning album The Urban Hymnal. The band performed Dance Revival and Blessings on Blessings with soulful sounds from the Grammy-award winning duo Louis York, who is featured on the song, along with TSU alumna Ashley “FluteBae” Crawford.

Joshua Knox

TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands is the first collegiate marching band to win a Grammy, the music industry’s highest honor for Best Roots Gospel Album.

Aimee Rollins, a freshman from Atlanta who plays the clarinet, said the overall experience was another one for the books.
“Every time we perform it is a great time,” Rollins said, noting that the crowd’s energy was lively. “When they come and experience something new, introducing them to a new world of music they didn’t know about before .. with a lot of TSU people in the crowd hyping us up, I really did appreciate it.”

Aimee Rollins

Louis York singer and music producer Claude Kelly, described the experience of performing with AOB at the Grand Ole Opry as ‘next level history.’

Check out the Aristocrat of Bands debut at the Grand Ole Opry here. Listen to The Urban Hymnal album on all music streaming platforms such as Apple Music, YouTube, and or Spotify.