Tennessee State band to make historic debut at Grand Ole Opry

The Grammy-winning Aristocrat of Bands will continue making history with an appearance at The Grand Ole Opry.

On April 4th, 2023 Tennessee State’s Aristocrat of Bands will make its debut at the world-famous Grand Ole Opry. Marching bands aren’t a new experience for the historic 90-year-old music hall but not many marching bands are Grammy-award winners and belong to an HBCU.

The Aristocrat of Bands is used to being the leader in making noise where HBCU bands aren’t expected to. The band now performs at the 4,400-seat venue off Briley Parkway, adding to its heavy resume, which includes being the first HBCU band to perform on national television in 1955, the first band to play at a presidential inaugural parade in 1961, and the first band to play on the White House lawn in 2016.

Assistant Band Director Larry Jenkins told The Tennessean that one can’t describe American music without crediting the HBCU band. “This culture reaching avenues beyond football fields and a limited number of genres and stages is always important.”

Grand Ole Opry

Jenkins continues to say that The Aristocrat of Bands performance at the Grand Ole Opry will be beyond anyone’s imagination; definitely an experience for anyone who attends. “The spectacle of having a full band presentation — in suits and boots, plus drum majors and the Sophisticated Ladies dancers — will be an immersive, sensory overload of a marching band experience.”

Aristocrat of Bands made history at the beginning of the year

Back in February the Aristocrat of Bands won a Grammy in the Best Gospel Roots Album category for its album “The Urban Hymnal.” The historic band joined forces with gospel rapper “Sir The Baptist” and Grammy-winning producer Dallas Austin to create a musical dedication to Black culture. The album is a mixing pot of hip-hop beats, gospel roots of Black spirituals, and iconic marching band beats.

Aristocrat of Bands Grand Ole Opry

“Sir The Baptist” envisioned the Grammy-winning album attending Tennessee State’s homecoming back in 2021. “It was definitely homecoming that just reminded me that the culture of Black people and music and HBCUs, all of that coming together was really amazing. I saw then that it was needed for the gospel community as well. So all of this music, R&B, hip hop, everything comes from gospel. It’s what kept us from the cotton fields to wearing the finest cotton. It’s kind of helped us get through it all.”

Together “Sir The Baptist”, Dallas Austin, The Aristocrat of Bands, and other hit hitters like Kierra “KiKi” Sheard, Fred Hammond, and John P. Kee produced the album. In his acceptance speech, Jenkins said the dedication and hard work of each student created the pen that allowed for this moment to be etched in history books.

Tennessee State band to make historic debut at Grand Ole Opry
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