Tennessee State University’s AOB becomes first marching band to win Grammy

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s marching band is now known as the Grammy-award winning Aristocrat of Bands! The AOB made history as the first collegiate marching band to win the music industry’s highest honor for Best Roots Gospel Album, The Urban Hymnal, at the 65th annual ceremony.

AOB is also featured on Spoken Word Artist and Poet, J. Ivy’s album The Poet Who Sat By The Door, that won a Grammy as well. 

“We congratulate our students, Dr. Reginald McDonald, Professor Larry Jenkins, and the band staff for this amazing accomplishment as we continue to write history and prove why the Aristocrat of Bands is the best marching band in nation,” said TSU President Glenda Glover.  

Walking the Grammy red carpet and accepting the award on behalf of TSU and the band were the album’s co-executive producers, l-r: TSU alum platinum recording artist Aaron ‘DUBBA-AA’ Lockhart, assistant band director Larry Jenkins, and TSU alumni, two-time Grammy award-nominated songwriter and artist Sir the Baptist

“It is quite appropriate that this historic moment in our institution’s history takes place during Black History Month, highlighting the accomplishments of great African American scientists, educators, civil rights and social justice leaders, innovators, visionaries and the trailblazing musicians of our Aristocrat of Bands.”

Dr. Reginald McDonald, AOB band director, said being the first college band in the nation, leading amongst HBCU bands is a ‘surreal’ moment that all universities can be proud of.

From l-r, AOB members Celeste Boykin, Curtis Olawumi and Logyn Rylander in Los Angeles at the 65th annual Grammy award ceremony. (Photo submitted)

“It is a true testimony to how HBCUs with tremendously less resources find ways to educate and overcome enormous obstacles,” McDonald said. “The lesson for our students is that hard work, dedication, determination, perseverance and faith always win.”

The album also features TSU’s New Direction Gospel Choir along with acclaimed gospel artist Jekalyn Carr, Fred Hammond, Kierra Sheard, J. Ivy, John P. Kee, Louis York and more. 

New Direction Gospel Choir’s powerful vocals are heard on “Dance Revival,” a track that lift the spirit and soothe the soul.

The internationally acclaimed gospel choir has been featured on BET’s Sunday Best, toured Europe with a command performance at the Vatican hosted by the Pope Francis.   

L-r: The Urban Hymnal was executively produced by, Assistant band director professor Larry Jenkins, AOB Band Director Dr. Reginald McDonald, platinum recording artist, TSU alum Dubba-AA, Grammy award-winning songwriter and artist Dallas Austin and two-time Grammy award-nominated songwriter and artist Sir the Baptist

Walking the Grammy red carpet and accepting the award on behalf of TSU and the band were the album’s co-executive producers, assistant band director Larry Jenkins, TSU alumni, two-time Grammy award-nominated songwriter and artist Sir the Baptist, and TSU alum platinum recording artist Aaron ‘DUBBA-AA’ Lockhart. Grammy award-winning songwriter and artist Dallas Austin also co-produced the album.

Jenkins thanked every student who worked hard to make the dream a reality.  

“Thank you to the best band in the land, Tennessee State University AOB. Thank you to all of our amazing students. Your hard work and dedication created the pen that allowed you to write your own page in the history books. We made history, but it is also February, so we also made Black history.”

AOB students gathered for the historic Grammy watch party. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

It was just as exciting on the TSU campus as hundreds of students, including band members, waited anxiously for the category and announcement.

The Grammy watch party erupted when the band’s name was read as the winner.

Emotions couldn’t be put into words when the award winner for the Best Roots Gospel album was finally announced. 

There are more than 280 AOB members. Chelsea Flournoy, a music education major who plays the trombone for the band, jumped for joy with her fellow classmates. 

John King (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“I cried tears of joy,” Flournoy said. “We worked so hard, long nights recording this album to make it perfect, and the perfect way got us a Grammy. I was confident in this album, we made history!” 

TSU senior John king, who plays the cymbal, said he was very confident in last night’s win before the announcement. “I saw the vision,” King said. “Being a part of this journey and seeing this being accomplished, it motivates me and it gives me hope.” 

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