Tag Archives: TSU Aristocrat of Bands

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.

Tennessee State University marching band gets historic nomination for two Grammys

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands has been nominated for a Grammy for their album The Urban Hymnal in the Best Roots Gospel Album category!

AOB also received a second Grammy nod for their collaboration on Spoken Word Artist and Poet, J. Ivy’s album, The Poet Who Sat By The Door.

The groundbreaking album has 10 tracks filled with organic sounds that were created on TSU campus and features trailblazers within the gospel music industry. The AOB is the first collegiate band in history to earn a Grammy nomination. 

Two-time Grammy award-nominated songwriter and artist Sir The Baptist, left, and AOB assistant director professor Larry Jenkins records historic gospel album titled ‘Urban Hymnal,’ with AOB on campus. (Photo by Aaron Grayson, TSU Media Relations)

“This is a tremendous day in the history of our beloved Tennessee State University,” Dr. Reginald McDonald, director of bands, said. “This is not just a band accolade, but a university-wide accomplishment. I personally appreciate our President, Dr. Glenda Glover’s vision for our university.”

Artists, albums, and songs competing for trophies at the 65th annual ceremony were announced on Tuesday by the Recording Academy. The Urban Hymnal is one of five nominees within the Best Roots Gospel Album category. 

“The university is very proud of this accomplishment by the Aristocrat of Bands that is celebrated by the TSU family and all of Tennessee,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.

AOB students recorded the Urban Hymnal gospel album at TSU for several months. (Photo by Aaron Grayson, TSU Media Relations)

“The AOB’s historic Grammy nominations add to the legacy of excellence that is TSU and cements the band as a part of the mystique that is Music City.”  

AOB assistant director Larry Jenkins described this moment as “surreal.”

“The Aristocrat of Bands receiving a Grammy nomination is a dream come true,” Jenkins said. “This serves as a truly historic and monumental moment for all of our students, staff and the university at large. Thank you to every band student, artist, producer and each person who contributed to our album. Thank you to the Recording Academy for making this moment a reality. Like our fellow HBCU, Fisk University, did in 2020, we hope to bring another Grammy Award down Jefferson Street soon.”

The Urban Hymnal is one of five nominees within the Best Roots Gospel Album category. 

The Grammy’s will take place on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.

Music moguls and acclaimed artist such as Jekalyn Carr, Fred Hammond, Kierra Sheard, J. Ivy, John P. Kee, Louis York, Dubba-AA, Sir the Baptist, Prof. Jenkins, Take 6, Mali Music, and more are on the album. 

The executive producers for the album are AOB Director Dr. McDonald, Prof. Jenkins, two-time Grammy award-nominated songwriter and artist Sir the Baptist, Grammy award-winning songwriter and artist Dallas Austin, and TSU alum and platinum recording artist Dubba-AA.

TSU’s World-Renowned Aristocrat of Bands Names New Leaders as Group Prepares for 2021 Tournament of Roses

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – As the Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands prepares for its historic appearance in the Tournament of Roses in January, the marching band has announced a new lineup of drum majors.

Julien Dooley, the only returning drum major, will lead the “Fantastic 4” in 2020-2021. (Submitted photo)

The new “Fantastic 4,” as they are called, were announced at the AOB’s recent virtual banquet, which also recognized outgoing drum majors who are part of the 2020 TSU graduating class. Julian Dooley, a senior communications major from Decatur, Georgia, who will lead the new Fantastic 4, is the only returning member. Joining him are Justen Ramsey, rising junior, health science, from Atlanta; Travion  Crutcher, rising junior , mechanical engineering, from Huntsville, Alabama; and Cameron Brown, senior, mass communications major from Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr. Reginald McDonald, TSU’s director of bands, congratulated the new Fantastic 4, and paid special tribute to the outgoing members for their accomplishments and service to the university.

“I thank you for your love, service, hard work, dedication and loyalty to the Fantastic 4, the Aristocrat of Bands and Tennessee State University,” McDonald said. “Congratulations on your accomplishment in earning your degrees. We wish you the very best in all of your future endeavors.”

Justin Ramsey, Drum Major No. 2

 The outgoing drum majors, who will receive their bachelor’s degrees in various disciplines at the August 1 commencement ceremonies are Hassan Moody, from Decatur, Georgia, business administration; Cole Gilbert, from Jonesboro, Georgia, health science; and Xavier Ellis, from Stone Mountain, Georgia, criminal Justice.

At the virtual banquet, the AOB also announced captains for the Sophisticated Ladies, Royal Elegance, and section leaders for the instrumentalist.

In March, the world-renowned AOB received official invitation to participate in the 2021 Rose Bowl Parade on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, California. Dr. Robert B. Miller, president and chairman of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, came to TSU to personally present the band with the official tournament flag and invitation.

Travion Crutcher, Drum Major No.3

The AOB will be one of only four university bands nationwide to participate in the parade, with a domestic television audience of more than 38 million.

“Only the best of the best are invited  and the Aristocrat of Bands is one of them,” Miller said in the Gentry Complex, amid thunderous cheers from university officials, relatives, former band members, and Mr. and Miss TSU and their royal court.

Cailyn Sparks, a member of the AOB Sophisticated Ladies Dance Line, called the Rose Bowl Parade invitation “an opportunity of a life time.”

“I am glad my mom and dad and maybe some other family members will be there,” said Sparks, a junior elementary education major from Phenix City, Alabama, who will be going to California for the first time. “I am extremely excited about going to the Rose Bowl and excited to be there with my family.”

Cameron Brown, Drum Major No. 4

McDonald added, “If you know anything about parades in this country, the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Macy’s Parade are numbers one and two,” he said. “To have either one of those parades on your performance as a portfolio, says a lot about your band program.”

In addition to the Tournament of Roses invitation, receiving the Best Band ranking, and a record ninth appearance at Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational, the AOB is enjoying a stellar year of achievements and accolades. In April 2019, during the NFL Draft in the Music City, the AOB were featured on the nationally syndicated ESPN sports talk show, First Take; the band received a shout out from pop star Lizzo for the band’s rendition of her “Truth Hurts” medley. In January 2019, percussionists from the band performed in the Rose Parade. They were also featured performers at the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons’ 2019 home opener.

For more information on the AOB, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/aristocratofbands/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. 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.

TSU Aristocrat of Bands Ranked No. 1 Among HBCU Bands

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – The Tennessee State University world famous marching band has done it again. Just in time for homecoming, The Undefeated has named the TSU Aristocrat of Bands the Best HBCU marching band in America.

Ranked No. 4 in the September poll, AOB moved slightly ahead of North Carolina A&T State University to take the title, with top finishes in all categories, including No. 1 in drum major.

This is the third ESPN/The Undefeated HBCU Ranking this season. Bands are evaluated based on musicality, drill and design, percussion, auxiliary crops and drum majors. The rankings are conducted by two six-person panels consisting of current and retired band directors from HBCUs, as well as choreographers.

The AOB is not new to national or international recognition. They have performed at the White House, at NFL games, and appeared at events and performed with many other big stars.

During the recent NFL Draft in Nashville, the AOB thrilled fans with a performance on ESPN’s “First Take.” Percussionists from the band performed in the Rose Bowl Parade. The AOB performed with country music legend Keith Urban, and performed at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Lizzo, a rising star topping the charts, gave a shout out to the band recently after they performed a dynamic medley including her hit song “Truth Hurts”  at TSU’s game against Mississippi Valley State on Aug. 31, and delivered a repeat performance at the National Battle of the Bands in Houston, Lizzo’s hometown.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

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.