The Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands traveled to Atlanta and put on an amazing show on Jan. 26. Fans, students and alumni packed the Georgia Dome adding to the energy generated by the dynamic performances by eight of the nation’s top marching bands from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) at the one-of-a-kind ‘House Party,’ known as the Honda Battle of the Bands 11th annual Invitational Showcase.
Edward L. Graves, the band director at TSU for over 30 years, was given a special recognition by Honda prior to the band’s performance, third in the lineup, which was very well-received by the crowd, especially alumni of the band.
“To say I was proud would be an understatement,” said distinguished TSU alumnus Grant Winrow. “I was more than thrilled to see Prof. Graves honored. He has been mentor, father figure, and friend to a countless number of people in both band and schools for higher learning. As an Aristocrat alum, my heart raced as I saw the band spell out his name on field for all to see. The crowd recognized and applauded the ‘Little Giant!’”
Winrow was drum major 1987-88 and marched playing trumpet from 1984-86.
Acting band director, Dr. Reginald A. McDonald led the group’s outstanding 12-minute show.
An electrifying performance by Grammy Award-winning R&B singer Brandy and American dance music singer and songwriter, Crystal Waters, added additional spark to the program. The unparalleled pageantry, musicianship and camaraderie of the HBCU marching band experience was on full display with spirited performances by Albany State University, Alcorn State University, Bethune-Cookman University, Edward Waters College, Jackson State University, North Carolina A&T University, Tennessee State University, and Winston-Salem State University.
Two lucky fans also left the Georgia Dome as proud owners of brand new Honda vehicles. One of the three finalists in the Honda Battle of the Bands Sweepstakes became the owner of a 2013 Honda Accord. Additionally, the crowd was surprised when a second lucky fan in attendance received a new 2013 Honda Civic.
“The Honda Battle of the Bands not only provides a national stage to showcase the talent of these outstanding student musicians, but also the success of the music education programs at each school,” said Marc Burt, assistant vice president, office of ‘inclusion and diversity’ for American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “Honda is honored to support these programs with grants that each school receives for participating in the program.”
The Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase is the largest and most popular music event of its kind. Widely known to fans as ‘The Honda,’ the Showcase not only serves as a platform to highlight and celebrate the heritage and showmanship of HBCU marching bands, but also stands as the only national music scholarship program dedicated to supporting HBCU music education programs. The eight qualifying marching bands each earned a $20,000 grant for their school’s music education programs, along with an all-expense paid trip to perform at the Invitational Showcase in Atlanta.