Aristocrat of Bands

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History[edit]

The band emerged from the Jazz Collegians of Tennessee State University, and was requested by Tennessee State University's president Walter Davis as support for athletics. In 1946, J.D. Chavis started the organization with 100 pieces after some weeks of practices. Originally titled as "the Marching 100" the name "Aristocrat of Bands" was given by a sportscaster at an NFL game.

Historical Accomplishments[edit]

In 1955, the band was the first historically black college or university band to appear on national television[1] with their performance at the Chicago Bears versus Los Angeles Rams NFL game. In 1961, they performed for the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy making them the first historically black college or university to perform at a presidential inauguration.[2] The band has been invited and performed in Asia, Africa, North America and Europe. The band was featured in the inaugural Honda Battle of the Bands, held in Atlanta. The band was also named in 2002 the official band of the Tennessee Titans, making them the first HBCU to be named as an official band for an NFL team.

List of Accomplishments[edit]

Nationally televised professional football half-time shows performed (parital list)[edit]

1955-NBC: Chicago Bears vs. Los Angeles Rams in Chicago

1956-CBS: Cleveland Browns vs. New York Giants in Cleveland

1960-CBS/NBC: Baltimore Colts vs. Green Bay Packers in Baltimore

1963-NBC: NFL Championship Game - Chicago Bears vs. New York Giants in Chicago

1968-NBC: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Oakland Raiders in Cincinnati

1969-NBC: Cincinnati Bengals vs. New York Jets in Cincinnati

1970-NBC: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns in Cincinnati

1971-NBC: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns in Cincinnati

1973-CBS: Atlanta Falcons vs. St. Louis Cardinals in Atlanta

1978-NBC: Cincinnati Bengals vs. New England Patriots in Cincinnati

1993-NBC: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns in Cincinnati

1998-CBS: Tennessee Oilers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers in Nashville

2000-CBS: Tennessee Titans vs. New York Giants in Nashville

2001-ESPN: Tennessee Titans vs. Miami Dolphins in Nashville

2002-FOX: Tennessee Titans vs. Washington Redskins in Nashville

2003: Tennessee Titans

2004: Tennessee Titans

2005: Tennessee Titans

2006: Tennessee Titans

2007: Tennessee Titans

2008: Tennessee Titans

2009: Tennessee Titans

Chronicle of notable performances (partial list)[edit]

1955: First HBCU band to appear on national television.

1961: First HBCU band to march in a presidential inaugural parade.

1961: Performed in the Presidential Inaugural Parade of John F. Kennedy.

1981: Appeared in the CBS television movie The Concrete Cowboy.

1982: Appeared in a Hello Nashville Commercial for NBC affiliate WSMV.

1982: Featured ensemble at the College Band Directors’ National Association Regional Conference in Nashville.

1983: Featured ensemble at the College Band Directors’ National Association national meeting in Atlanta, Georgia.

1983: Featured in WSMV Nashville Channel 4 News Special Report

1984: Mirage Bowl Football Game, Tokyo, Japan.

1984: Featured ensemble at the Music Educators’ National Conference, national meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

1984: Invited to tour Nigeria by the United States Information Agency.

1992: Featured at the Memphis In May Tattoo Festival

1993: Performed in the Presidential Inaugural Parade of Bill Clinton.

1993: Appeared on CBS television The Morning Show from Washington, DC

1993: Appeared on Good Morning Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee

1993: Featured in WSMV Nashville Channel 4 News Special Report

1994: Public television special “Rain Doesn’t Fall on the Aristocrat of Bands”

1996: Appeared in Marty Stuart music video Magic Town

1997: Performed in the Presidential Inaugural Parade of Bill Clinton.

1997: Appeared on ABC television Good Morning America

1997: Featured in Nashville News Channel 5 Special Report

2000: Performed for the CBS All American Happy Thanksgiving Day Parade.

2002: Featured performer at the 58th National Biennial In-Service Conference of the Music Educators National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

2003: Selected to represent Tennessee at the American Celebration of Music in China.

2003: Invited as one of ten bands to perform at the Inaugural Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase in Atlanta, Georgia.

2003: Named official spirit band of the Tennessee Titans NFL franchise.

2004: Invited to perform and named top vote getter at the Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase in Atlanta, Georgia.

2005: Invited as one of ten bands to perform at the Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase in Atlanta, Georgia.

2005: Performed with country music artists Big and Rich on the CMT Music Awards.

2006: Performed with the Nashville Symphony in Porgy & Bess.

2006: Featured performer at the 2nd HBCU National Band Directors Consortium Convention in Atlanta, Georgia.

2006: Appeared on ABC television Good Morning America. [2]

2016: Played on the lawn of the White House for the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. While at the event, the band had a meet and greet session with President Obama [3]

Band Staff[edit]

Director of Bands[edit]

The Aristocrat of Bands full-time bandmasters to hold the title "Director of Bands":

Prof. Jordan D. Chavis 1946-1951

Prof. Frank T. Greer 1951-1972

Prof. Clifford Watkins 1972-1979

Prof. Edward L. Graves 1979–2014

Dr. Reginald A. McDonald (Acting Director of Bands) 2012–2014

Dr. Reginald A. McDonald 2014–present

Associate Directors of Band[edit]

Prof. Benjamin I. Kirk 1982-1997

Dr. Kevin Davenport 1997-2001

Dr. Reginald A. McDonald 2001–2014

Assistant Directors of Band[edit]

Prof. Thomas L. Davis

Prof. James L. Sexton (Current Arranger and Director of the Jazz Collegians)

Dr. Sean Daniels

Prof. Larry Jenkins

Proper Titles of Directors[edit]

All Band Directors are addressed with a title. Members of the band may use "Prof", short for Professor, and their last name (e.g. "Prof" Graves or "Prof" Sexton) or if they hold a terminal degree, by the title of "Doc" informally or Doctor and their last name formally (e.g. Doctor Prof Mac). Just like the United States Military, every response to a band director or anyone in charge is ended with "sir" or "ma'am".

Auxiliary and Office Staff[edit]

Ms. Laverne Brown- Sophisticated Ladies Coordinator

Ms. Michelle Allen- Office Manager / Royal Elegance Flag Corp Coordinator

Mrs. Melva Townsend- Secretary

Mr. James Pitts- Instrument Technician

Marching Style[edit]

The band marches in the traditional high-stepping style incorporating Classical, Jazz, Contemporary, and Popular repertoire in its performances. The band is led by four drum majors known as the "Fantastic Four" and is accompanied by The Sophisticated Ladies dance team.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Happenings: Drumline 2006 At Finley Stadium Is Oct. 1". The Chattanoogan. Chattanooga, TN. 2006-09-18. 
  2. ^ a b http://www.aristocratofbands.com
  3. ^ http://www.newschannel5.com/news/local-news/tennessee-state-university-band-performing-at-white-house

The list of assistant band directors contains a major error. The very first assistant band director was Mr. Anceo Melvino Francisco, a Masters Degree graduate of the University of Michigan. Prior to Mr. Francisco's appointment the band director Prof. Greer used graduate students as his assistants. The last one was Calvin Jones, a fantastic trombonist from Memphis, Tennessee. Mr. Francisco changed the band's marching style from the six to five military strides that were quite popular with the majority of southern bands to the eight to five short high steps that were characteristic of the University of Michigan and other Big Ten marching bands. This change provided the more visually exciting marching style that helped establish the reputation of the country's HBCU's as the "Show Bands" of the Gridiron.

How do I know all this? I was a sophomore band student when Mr. Francisco was employed as the Tennessee State assistant band director. Surely such an important contribution to the HBCU culture deserves at least a mention somewhere on that band director's list. I will be looking for you to "do the right thing."

External links[edit]