ARISTOCRAT OF BANDS
In the fall of 1946, after six weeks of practice, a 100-piece marching band took to the field at Tennessee State University and a tradition of excellence was born.
The band would soon become known as the Aristocrat of Bands, performing in parades, half-time shows, music videos, movies, and television commercials.
The band was the first historically black college or university band to appear on national television with the 1955 halftime performance at the Chicago Bears -vs- Los Angeles Rams professional football game. The internationally known marching band was also the first historically black college or university band to perform in a Presidential Inaugural Parade.
In 1961 the Aristocrat of Bands performed for President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural parade followed by the 1993 and 1997 inaugural parades of President Bill Clinton.
The band has appeared in the Mirage Bowl in Tokyo, Japan, the Orange Blossom Classic in Miami, and the inaugural Silver Dollar Classic in Las Vegas.
Four men have served as Director of Bands, J.D. Chavis 1946-1951, Frank T. Greer 1951-1972, Clifford Watkins 1972-1979, and the present Director Edward L. Graves.