Tennessee State University Marching Band releases new album


“The Urban Hymnal” explodes with the energy of his opening notes.

  • Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands’ new album is a 31-minute ballad that sums up Music City at its best.

Why is it important: Nashville’s quintessential institution, the AOB has performed at NFL halftime shows and the Rose Parade.

  • The group’s manager, Reginald McDonald, told Axios that the recordings capture the electricity of their live performances in a way that could reach new heights.

Driving the news: McDonald says “The Urban Hymnal,” which contains mostly original material, was designed to pay homage to two pillars of African-American musical tradition: gospel and the historically black college and university (HBCU) marching bands.

  • “The goal was for it to be something very, very entertaining, but very unique.”

Enlarge: The album, released September 23, was produced by AOB deputy manager Larry Jenkins, McDonald and artists Dallas Austin, Sir the Baptist and Dubba-AA.

  • Its 10 tracks dance and weave through different styles and feature an array of artists, but the TSU student band remains the central force.

What they say : “At times I used them as an orchestra”, Sir the Baptist says WNXP. “I used them as a Motown band. I used them as a jazz band. They almost went into a different skin on every song.”

The plot: TSU presented “The Urban Hymnal” for Grammy consideration in the Best Gospel Roots Album category.

  • Very wellputs the band in the middle of an inspiring morning groove.

Between the lines: McDonald’s hopes to harness the power of the album as a fundraising tool. He says proceeds from downloads and streams will go towards building a new band room, complete with recording studio and performance space.

And after: If you want to see the band in action, you can head to the TSU throwback parade tomorrow.

  • They are also certain to continue performing at major events, McDonald says.
  • “Nothing great happens in the city of Nashville or the state of Tennessee without the aristocrat of the bands.”

How to listen: “The Urban Hymnal” is available to purchase or stream online. Find it on streaming services by searching Tennessee State University.


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