Tag Archives: Grammy nominated

Road to the Grammys: Band’s TV Appearance Inspires Student to come to TSU, join AOB

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –In September 2016, Logyn Rylander was surfing through her TV streaming service for something good to watch. It was in her living room when she first learned of Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands (AOB) on television.  

Logyn Rylander

“I was watching Cedrick the Entertainer’s special on Netflix, and I saw the band performing,” Rylander said. “I was shocked.” 

Rylander was mesmerized by the AOB’s energy and passion as members marched up the aisles of a Nashville auditorium. The high-octane performance was during their appearance with nationally known stand-up comedian and actor, Cedric Kyles, also known as Cedrick the Entertainer. She didn’t know much about TSUs band at first, but she was very familiar by the time the Netflix special performance was over. 

“I thought, yes, I am going there (to TSU.)” 

Logyn Rylander has been playing the saxophone since the third grade.

The Philadelphia, PA native, who was a sophomore in high school at the time, applied to the university and received a band scholarship to play the saxophone. 

Fast forward to today, Rylander will graduate this Fall with a degree in music technology business. Along with getting her degree, the saxophonist says the other ultimate accolade is being a part of a Grammy-nominated, groundbreaking gospel album The Urban Hymnal.  The historic music project is produced by the Aristocrat of Bands and features several gospel icons in the industry. The AOB is the first collegiate marching band in the history of the Grammys to receive a nomination. 

Rylander has been playing the saxophone since the third grade and picked up the bassoon her freshman year at TSU. She recalls the emotional journey of performing with AOB for the very first time.  

“My freshman year, I cried at multiple performances because I knew someone was watching me, the same way I watched the band on television … it was a full circle moment,” she said. She knew one day her talent was going to take her far. 

AOB band director Reginald McDonald and TSU alumnus, Sir the Baptist watches as Logyn Rylander submits the application to the Grammys.

“This is going to inspire someone the same exact way it inspired me.” 

Rylander also had the honor of submitting the application to the Grammys as her fellow band members looked on anxiously. 

Dr. Larry Jenkins, assistant band director and co-producer of the album, said Rylander wasn’t aware that she would be the person to submit the album, but that she deserved the chance to do so. 

“From the beginning, Logyn’s enthusiasm towards the project showed me that she was a visionary and that she was able to see the big picture,” Jenkins said. 

Logyn Rylander and TSU alumnus, Grammy award-winning producer Dallas Austin

Rylander helped create the soft and mellow notes with her saxophone in the songs titled Dance Revival and Fly. Rylander’s deep, reedy, and woody bassoon sounds can also be heard in the song Blessings

She said she admires the music AOB produces and is grateful to be a part of this musical journey with fellow band members she considers family.  

“I’m very grateful and honored to be in this band,” Rylander said. “What a way to end my school and band career.” 

The Grammys will take place on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California. Listen to The Urban Hymnal album on all music streaming platforms such as Apple Music, YouTube, and or Spotify. 

Road to the Grammys: Father and son share TSU band legacy 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – When Kedrick Malone Sr., visits his alma mater to watch his son march onto the field with TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands, he can’t help but feel a sense of pride.  The father says seeing Kedrick Malone Jr. dressed in a band uniform, like he was decades ago a as drum major for the famed AOB, is priceless.

Kedrick Malone Jr., right, said his father’s support and band legacy are what made him decide to follow in his footsteps at TSU. 

For Malone Sr., being in the band during his college years had been a defining experience. For Malone Jr., his father’s support and band legacy are what made him decide to follow in his footsteps at TSU. 

Now Malone Jr., a finance major, can be heard playing his saxophone on the Grammy-nominated, groundbreaking gospel album The Urban Hymnal, produced by the Aristocrat of Bands. 

“I never thought being in the band could take us this far,” Malone Jr., said. “The main reason why I decided to come to TSU and be a part of the band is because of my father. Growing up, all I’ve known was TSU band,” the Memphis native said.  

“My dad has taken me, my younger sister, and mom to the home opener game and the Southern Heritage Classic every year.” 

Kedrick Malone Sr., who played the saxophone with AOB, was a drum major in 1994-95 at TSU.

Malone Jr., notes flow effortlessly from the instrument as a part of the production for the songs Fly, Dance Revival, and Alma Mater, on the 10-track album.

The historic album also features several gospel icons in the music industry. The AOB album is the first collegiate marching band in history of the Grammys to receive a nomination.

Malone described the production of the album as ‘unbelievable.’ 

It was surreal,” he said. “All the different icons and getting to work with them. Being able to say that we are the first … we are making history. This is something no one can take away from us.” 

His father Malone Sr., who was an AOB drum major in 1994-95, said seeing his own son carrying on the tradition, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of legacy.

Kedrick Malone Jr., performing in Fall 2022 parade with AOB.

“It was perfect to pass what I learned and experienced to him and talk about the tradition, our sound and who we are,” Malone Sr., said. 

Malone Sr., who also plays the saxophone, noted that performing with the band was one of his best experiences. He is proud of the quality sounds the band has produced over the years and for being recognized for a Grammy nomination.  

The Grammys will take place on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California. Listen to The Urban Hymnal album on music streaming platforms such as Apple Music, YouTube, and or Spotify.

Road to the Grammys: TSU freshman says one call changed the trajectory of her life 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Freshman Me’Kayla Smith’s life changed instantly when she decided to attend Tennessee State University. Smith was initially forgoing college to focus on her budding singing career after experiencing the difficulties of juggling high school academics during the pandemic. However, a phone call from TSU alumnus Sir The Baptist, a two-time Grammy award-nominated songwriter and artist, changed everything.

Me’Kayla Smith

Smith is a part of the Grammy-nominated, groundbreaking gospel album The Urban Hymnal by TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands. Fondly called AOB, they are the first collegiate band in the history of the Grammys to receive a nomination. 

“It just shows you that life can change for anyone at any moment,” said Smith.  “A lot of opportunities that are afforded, we don’t know the magnitude of it. TSU was something I did not know I needed. And now I’m singing on a Grammy-nominated album.”

Smith’s captivating voice can be heard on the chorus of the song titled ‘Alright,’ on the10-track album featuring trailblazers within the gospel music industry.

Smith has been singing in church choirs since she was a child. When she turned 7 years old, she realized singing was more than just a hobby.

Me’Kayla sings with New Direction Choir during TSU 2022 gospel explosion.

“Singing is the way that I breathe,” added Smith. “One of the reasons I was created is to sing. I sing because it’s a part of what makes me who I am.  It’s a form of how I connect with the Lord.”

Smith’s road to the Grammys began summer 2022, when Sir The Baptist reached out to her on social media and followed up with a call about attending TSU and being a part of the album. The soprano says she was honored, and the decision was a no-brainer.

“My stepfather has a studio downstairs. I recorded it right then and there at home … and the rest was history,” she says.

Despite her reservations about attending college, she knew furthering her education and career as an artist at the university was a great decision. Smith, who is a business major, had an active first semester as she is a Sophisticated Lady, a member of the New Direction Choir and AOB.

Sophisticated Lady, Me’Kayla Smith during a 2022 TSU parade.

The song ‘Alright’ supports everything Smith believes in, she says, as the record gives her a sense of hope. “It’s an encouraging piece for anyone who need some uplifting … it is innovative, full of creativity, and it feels like home.”

Smith says she wasn’t surprised when the Grammy nomination was announced as she knew the quality of the album and its originality was bound to go far.

The Urban Hymnal is one of five nominated in the Best Roots Gospel Album category. Smith looks forward to the band bringing the trophy back to Tennessee and being recognized as the first collegiate band in history to earn a Grammy. The Grammys will take place on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California. 

Listen to The Urban Hymnal album on music streaming platforms such as Apple Music, YouTube, and or Spotify.