NASHVILLE (TSU News Service) – They have marched and performed all across the country, from presidential inaugurations and marching competitions to nationally televised NFL halftime shows, as well as movie and concert venues.
Now the Aristocrat of Bands from Tennessee State University will head north later this summer to celebrate TSU’s great Claude Humphrey’s enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The band will perform in the nationally televised halftime show of the Hall of Fame game on Sunday, Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio.
When Dr. Reginald McDonald found out that one of TSU’s own was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, he knew the band had to be part of the celebration.
“As soon as we heard that Claude Humphrey was one of the seven NFL legends to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, we knew we had to be there,” said McDonald, acting Director of Bands. “It is important for us to represent the University to celebrate the achievement of one of our family members.”
McDonald found out the band would be the featured halftime performance the day after Super Bowl XLVIII and immediately began thinking about what they could do to make the performance memorable. However since the band was heavily into the spring semester, plans would be put on hold until this summer when members of the band return to school.
Once they do return, it will be a quick and steep learning curve, McDonald explained since they have less than three weeks to gel together as a full band when the freshmen and the upperclassmen practice as one unit. It is also the largest band in the history of the Aristocrat of Bands, numbering at 290 members
“We’re excited about the opportunity to show off to the nation the high energy showmanship of the Aristocrat of Bands,” added McDonald. “We have about two weeks to put together an eight-minute show but we will definitely be ready. I know the people in Canton will be impressed by what we bring.”
This is the bands’ second NFL halftime performance in less than a year. Last September, the band was invited to perform during the nationally televised game between the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome.
McDonald added it’s a lot of work preparing for halftime shows during the TSU football season along with the additional pressure of the NFL shows. But he knows it’s more than just a performance. It is also a venue to bring the TSU brand, he said, to those outside the state.
“This is an opportunity for us to recruit in a different area, perform in a different part of the country that we usually don’t get to, and show that TSU is the best marching and performing band in the country,” he said.
Since its inception in 1946, and subsequently becoming a show band under the administration of second TSU President Dr. Walter S. Davis, the Aristocrat of Bands has been featured at many international and national events, including half-time shows at several NFL games, Bowl games and Classics, and Presidential Inaugurations.