here comes the Marching 100 band from Florida A&M University.
The 225-member band are slated to make their much-anticipated New Year’s Day debut at the 130th Rose Parade, part of the Tournament of Roses.
The band is slotted for a prime slot among the first units, following a vehicle carrying Gerald Freeny, who is making history this year as the first black president in the 123-year-old Tournament of Roses Association, which produces the event.
Alabama State University’s Marching Hornets band is also participating, at the invitation of Freeny, who told the Los Angeles Sentinel in February he thought bands from two HBCUs – Florida A&M and Alabama State in Montgomery, Alabama – would bring more excitement to the parade and inspire young people.
“For them to see the drumline from Florida A&M and Alabama State, I think it’s gonna give them the energy to say ‘hey, we can play drums.’” Freeny said. “Just give kids more of a vision or give them more of an opportunity of something to think about majoring in college.”
The Marching 100’s musical repertoire will include a medley tribute to Aretha Franklin, its first-ever rendition of the “Star Wars” theme composed by John Williams, and its upbeat signature “S.O.S.” song.
Veteran R&B singer, songwriter and philanthropist Chaka Khan is the grand marshal.
The trip is significant in many ways for FAMU.
With an expected international television viewing audience of 60 million and hundreds of thousands of viewers lining the parade route, the university sees it as an incomparable opportunity for promoting its brand and student recruitment.
“I think it will have a huge impact as it relates to branding for the university,” said Shelby Chipman, director of bands at FAMU. “Individuals will see the band name, but more importantly, (TV) viewers will see Florida A&M University, and I think that is going to start a lot of communication through the internet as well as engine searches to the university’s website.”