Unpacking the Business of HBCU Marching Bands

Unpacking the Business of HBCU Marching Bands

The big HBCU marching bands we see today — from Norfolk State in Virginia, Florida A&M, and Jackson State in Mississippi, all the way to Prairie View A&M University in Texas — originate from a style dating back to the ’40s. Their performances are known for musical excellence, flair, crowd engagement, and the use of modern songs. This style continues to captivate audiences with its awe-inspiring performances.

According to Timmey Zachery, director of bands at Prairie View, first-time viewers of historically Black college or university bands are often in absolute awe. Many people are surprised by the talent and skills demonstrated by these bands, as they display impressive synchronization and coordination among the members. The performances of HBCU bands highlight the excellence of the individual members and the institutions they represent.

For Prairie View freshman Luz Guzman, seeing the band perform at the 2019 National Battle of the Bands in Houston was a life-changing experience. Witnessing the band’s outstanding performance left her amazed and motivated to join the band. Despite a lack of resources, the Marching Storm at Prairie View continues to deliver exceptional performances that leave a lasting impact on audiences.

The power of HBCU bands is evident through their captivating performances and ability to showcase musical talent. Despite challenges, these bands continue to shine and make a lasting impression on both new and seasoned viewers. Support from the audience is crucial in sustaining the legacy of these remarkable bands.

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