2,200 Strong – 10 of America’s Top HBCU Marching Bands Harness the ‘Power of Dreams’ At the 2009 Honda Battle of the Bands
January 25, 2009
As the curtain dramatically closed on the seventh annual Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase, 10 of America’s top Historically Black College and University [HBCU] marching bands brought the house down, leaving themselves completely spent of energy, but their souls fulfilled. They brought their all, but left every bit of it on the field of the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, as the widely acknowledged “Super Bowl of Black College Marching Bands” concluded.
The 2009 Invitational Showcase, aptly themed “The Power of Dreams,” had special significance as the nation inaugurated its first African-American president. With one renowned HBOB band—the Florida A&M University “Marching 100”—just returning from having marched in the presidential inauguration parade in Washington, D.C., this year has already proven a dream come true for many HBCU student musicians.
More than 50,000 HBCU friends, fans, students and alumni traveled from all around the country to take part in the 2009 Honda Battle of the Bands. A virtual mosaic of music filled the Dome on Saturday as fans enjoyed everything from the latest chart-topping R&B and Hip-Hop hits, to contemporary, funk and classical music. Special guest host Rosci of Black Entertainment Television’s top-rated show, “106th & Park” and Atlanta’s WVEE evening drive time host, Ryan Cameron, introduced the bands while R&B artist Lloyd treated fans to a special performance of his hit single, “Girls Around the World.” To close out the show, the 150-voice Atlanta chapter choir of the Gospel Music Workshop of America took the field and helped the bands end on a reverent, inspirational note.
The 2009 Invitational Showcase bands included: Edward Waters College, Fayetteville State University, Florida A&M University, Jackson State University, Kentucky State University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University, Texas Southern University, Tuskegee University and Virginia State University.
Supporting HBCU Music Programs
The Honda Battle of the Bands not only showcases the pageantry and showmanship of HBCU bands, but also and more importantly, acts as the nation’s only HBCU music scholarship program of its kind. The ten bands selected to participate in the Invitational Showcase were awarded $20,000 for their music scholarship programs - a $10,000 increase over last year. They also received an additional $1,000 grant for their participation in the Celebration Tour, the Honda Battle of the Band’s pre-qualifying event. In all, a total of $244,000 in scholarship money will be given to HBCU music programs this year.
“We’re proud and humbled to continue for a seventh year as founder and principal sponsor of this one-of-a-kind event,” said Marc Burt, senior manager, Office of Inclusion and Diversity for American Honda. “What’s especially satisfying about this program is that, in the end, it’s a national scholarship program that will help incredibly talented young student-musicians realize their dreams.”
FOX MUSIC EXPERIENCE RETURNS
The winners of this year’s FOX MUSIC EXPERIENCE were Ralph Jean Paul from Florida A&M, and Kevin Greene from North Carolina A&T State University. Jean Paul, a senior at Florida A&M, is currently the band president and said that deciding to attend FAMU has been the best decision of his life. Through his involvement with the band he has had the opportunity to play in two Super Bowl half time shows, and most recently, at the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Kevin Greene, a junior at North Carolina A&T acts as his band’s drum line captain. Greene, who started playing instruments when he was just five years old, is currently majoring in Music Education and one day hopes to be a high school band director and open his own school of arts and social science.
The FOX MUSIC EXPERIENCE is a unique music internship/immersion program that works in conjunction with the Honda Battle of the Bands to help expose HBCU student musicians to the broader world of music and entertainment. The program, launched last year, offers two lucky Invitational Showcase student musicians the opportunity to spend a few weeks in the summer working on the Twentieth Century Fox studio lot in Los Angeles learning film and television music production first hand.
Recruiting Future Generations
For the fourth year in a row the Honda Battle of Bands also hosted an HBCU Recruitment Fair. Designed to expose young people to opportunities historically black college and universities can offer, the Recruitment Fair allows prospective college students to meet with marching band and admissions recruiters to discuss admissions requirements and scholarship opportunities. This year, 32 schools exhibited and more than 3,300 young people attended.
About American Honda
Marking its 50th anniversary, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. was founded in 1959 as the U.S. sales and marketing subsidiary of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. Honda currently produces automobiles, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, personal watercraft, lawn mowers and engines at its eleven major U.S. manufacturing operations, using domestic and globally sourced parts. Honda has a long-standing commitment to the support and success of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities that began more than 19 years ago with the establishment of the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge, a program designed to showcase the academic gifts and prowess of HBCU students. American Honda established Honda Battle of the Bands seven years ago as an effort to support HBCU music programs. For more information, visit www.HondaBattleoftheBands.com.