Tennessee State University marching band gets historic Grammy wins

TSU’s Aristocrat of Bands is the first HBCU marching band to win music’s highest honor.
The whole world is now hearing TSU's Aristocrat of Bands after a historical year. WSMV's Alexandria Adams tells their story.
Published: Feb. 5, 2023 at 6:44 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 6, 2023 at 9:55 AM EST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands can now add Grammy award winners to its long list of accomplishments after the band took home wins during Sunday’s show in two categories including “Best Roots Gospel Album.”

The band is now the first HBCU marching band in the nation to win music’s highest honor. That list could get even longer once the team learns the outcome of the NAACP Image Awards that is set to air later this month.

“You see the Grammy’s, You see the NAACP Image Award nominations, all of these amazing things that are expanding the culture, expanding the brand,” said Professor Larry Jenkins, Assistant Band Director.

The band is hoping to win in the “Outstanding Gospel/Christian Song” category as well as the “Outstanding Gospel/Christian Album” category during the 54th annual NAACP Image Awards, set for February 25th.

“This means a lot as well because it’s rooted in the culture. You have the highest award in music, and in this culture, that we’ve been able to tap into,” said Professor Jenkins.

HBCU All-Start Battle of the Bands in Atlanta, GA.
HBCU All-Start Battle of the Bands in Atlanta, GA.(The HBCU All-Star Battle of the Bands; 4THPARK; Tyrae Campbell)

Over the weekend, the team took the field at the largest marching band and dance team exhibition in the world. The HBCU All-Star Battle of the Bands was held in Atlanta on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The band included a selection from its album to perform on the field.

" The All-star Battle of the Bands puts us in our element in the purest form, which is being a marching band on the field, getting the audience excited, and just putting on a good show,” said Jenkins.

The annual event featured six HBCU institutions, including Alabama State University and North Carolina A&T.

“This is another moment to show the core of who we are. The marching band marches. The marching band plays. So, we are in our element again doing this,” said Jenkins.

Several members of the band, including staff, traveled to Los Angeles for the Grammy Awards after Saturday’s big performance.

“It’s an amazing feeling to know that the work that everybody put in, from the students to the artists, is being recognized and appreciated at this level,” said Jenkins.

Several artists including Sir the Baptist and Poet, J. Ivy helped bring the ‘Urban Hymnal’ to life.

The “Urban Hymnal” is now available for download on all streaming platforms. You can vote for the NAACP Image Awards by clicking here.