ABOVE: Southern University Drum Major kicks off their performance (Photo by: Medron White/Forward Times)
Eight HBCU bands, including Texas Southern, compete in 2023 Pepsi “National Battle of the Bands” competition, while honoring 50th anniversary of hip-hop
The 2023 Pepsi “National Battle of the Bands” (NBOTB) lived up to the hype once again, as eight of the nation’s top Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) marching bands captivated the crowd of more than 40,000 attendees at Houston’s NRG Stadium on Saturday, August 26th, with their electrifying performances.
The participating bands at the 2023 Pepsi “National Battle of the Bands” this year included:
- Houston’s own, Texas Southern University, Ocean of Soul
- Southern University, The Human Jukebox
- Florida A&M, The Marching 100
- Mississippi Valley State University, Mean Green Marching Machine
- Norfolk State, The Spartan “Legion” Marching Band
- Langston University, The Marching Pride
- Virginia State University, The Trojan Explosion Marching Band
- Tennessee State University, Aristocrats of Bands
Although the organizers do not select winners or losers for the “National Battle of the Bands” competition, the audience seemingly enjoyed judging each band on their own, whether it be the sound, musical selections, formations, showmanship, the battles in the stands, drum majors, drum lines, dance teams, and so much more. It appeared to truly be a wonderful experience for all in attendance, both young and old.
It was announced prior to the event that Big Boi, one-half of the legendary Grammy Award-winning hip-hop duo OutKast, had been added to an already star-studded lineup, celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. Big Boi performed, as did hip-hop pioneers Doug E. Fresh, Slim Thug, Choppa, Lil Keke, Z-Ro, while DJ Mr. Rogers got the crowd hyped by playing some classics. His addition amplified an already exceptional musical experience that intertwined the vibrant energy of the eight HBCU bands with the iconic sounds of the hip-hop icons.
The “National Battle of the Bands” event was established as the premier kickoff to the fall marching band season, featuring electrifying performances by the country’s top Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) marching bands. This exciting event not only captivates diverse audiences – including teens, young adults, families, college-educated professionals, blue-collar workers, and active seniors – but also highlights the cultural significance of HBCU bands.
With the support of the Harris County Houston Sports Authority and the City of Houston, the “National Battle of the Bands” attracts thousands of fans, alumni, and students, strengthening the community’s connection to HBCUs.
The event’s creator, Derek Webber, envisions showcasing the vital role HBCU marching bands play in educating aspiring musicians and cultivating future leaders.
As the largest African American event in Texas, the mission of the “National Battle of the Bands” is to enhance the exposure of HBCUs and their marching bands, the roles they play in educating aspiring musicians, and developing future leaders. Event organizers have generated more than $700,000 in scholarships for the participating HBCUs and have consistently brought forth an approximate $20 million economic impact for Houston and Harris County.
The “National Battle of the Bands” competition is an iconic tradition, not only amongst HBCUs, but as a staple in American culture. The “National Battle of the Bands” was created to be the nation’s best kick-off to the fall marching band season by showcasing new performances by the country’s top marching bands. It offers unmatched exposure to the marching bands of HBCUs and has broad appeal among varying age groups and socio-economic demographic groups.
Audiences can look forward to awe-inspiring, never-before-seen performances that will keep them coming back for more exhilarating experiences year after year.
The 2023 “National Battle of the Bands” event saw more than 40,000 attendees, with thousands more attending a HBCU College Fair, and the Emerging Experience Entrepreneur Conference presented by JP Morgan Chase, which focused on strengthening the commitment to closing the racial wealth gap by providing more opportunities to minority business owners. National and local bank leaders conducted a workshop with community entrepreneurs to learn from, connect with, collaborate, impact, and inspire each other.
For more information about the “National Battle of the Bands” please visit https://www.nationalbattleofthebands.com/.