ON THE EVE of the sixty fifth Grammy Awards, Nashville-based Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands was once in Atlanta to compete at the HBCU All-Star Battle of the Bands in opposition to colleges like North Carolina A&T, Alabama State, and Bethune-Cookman.
The pupil musicians took the area at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for their flip and, earlier than their high-stepping overall performance began, they rapidly fashioned into the structure of a Grammy statuette.
It used to be a mighty flex, however they have been surely the solely band in the constructing who ought to say they had a Grammy nomination. By the subsequent evening, they had marched themselves into the records books when their 2022 album The Urban Hymnal received Best Gospel Roots Album, beating out heavy hitters like Willie Nelson and the Gaither Family Band in the process.
The win made Aristocrat of Bands the first marching band of any sort to earn a Grammy. (They had been additionally section of a 2nd Grammy win for their contributions to J. Ivy’s The Poet Who Sat via the Door in the Best Spoken Word Album category.)
Video of the band contributors observing the pre-tel awards ceremony is like a hit of dopamine. A massive crew of college students huddles collectively in the front of a large screen, fearful with excitement.
When they hear their title referred to as as the winner, the room erupts into social gathering — leaping, hugging, screaming with joy.
“They have been so nervous. In the weeks coming up to it, everyone used to be like, ‘Man, if we don’t win, we nevertheless obtained nominated.’ But now, there’s a fire,” says multi-hyphenate artist-songwriter Sir the Baptist, who co-produced the undertaking with TSU assistant band director “Prof” Larry Jenkins and R&B mainstay Dallas Austin (TLC, Madonna, Drumline).
Sir and Jenkins had been nonetheless on a wild trip of emotion days after returning from Los Angeles.
“It feels like I’m nevertheless in a dream, coming out of the moment,” Jenkins says, seated beside Sir in his workplace on TSU’s Nashville campus. “You apprehend at once the affect of what came about — culturally, traditionally — all of these matters you apprehend proper there on sight. You wake up the subsequent day and it’s a ordinary day however it’s some distance away from a normal day at the equal time.”
“Every morning waking up on account that then, I wake up to the place it feels like my being has been exhausted. It has sprouted,” Sir says. “It feels like each and every morning I’m in a position to appear at a sprout.”
The Urban Hymnal used to be a labor of love for Sir and Jenkins. Sir approached Jenkins in 2019 about coming to watch the band function at school, and Jenkins in consequence recruited him for an artist-in-residence program.