The Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands made history recently when it became the first collegiate band in the history of the Grammy Awards to receive a nomination for their 10-track album The Urban Hymnal in the Best Roots Gospel Album category. They made further history by winning the award, beating out Willie Nelson and three other nominees.
Professor Larry Jenkins, assistant band director for the Aristocrat of Bands, said that this accomplishment will change the trajectory of Nashville’s Music City reputation. “You have an HBCU band doing an album, which is something that has never been done to this capacity,” Jenkins said, noting that this opportunity was a cultural shift. “I hope this sparks another resurgence of the impact and importance of music. Not just Nashville, but north Nashville and Jefferson Street and how legendary this air is here.”
Reginald McDonald, the director of the Aristocrat of Bands and a co-executive producer for the album, added that “there is more to the city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee than country music. For Tennessee State University’s AOB to have produced an album to tie together two of the biggest music genres within the African American community, (gospel and HBCU marching bands) is extremely significant.”