Photo of Clark Atlanta University, courtesy of the Honda Battle of the Bands
Eight of the top Historically Black College and University marching bands played for nearly 60,000 fans at the 9th annual Honda Battle of the Bands (HBOB) Invitational Showcase at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta this past January.
“It’s amazing to be on site and see the impact this event has on the kids that participate,” says Erika Braxton-White of Honda corporate affairs and communications. “The showcase is for entertainment, but the kids walk away with an experience that they will hold dear for the rest of their lives.”
The participating bands—Albany State, Bethune-Cookman, Clark Atlanta, Jackson State, Tennessee State, Virginia State, Winston-Salem State and first-timer South Carolina State— were selected by three equally weighted polls of HBCU presidents, band directors and online fans.
“South Carolina State University was the only band in the showcase with their first presentation, and they did a phenomenal job,” Braxton-White says. “All the schools agreed that they did a great job and earned their place in the showcase.”
All eight bands joined together for a performance of film music for this year’s theme, “Hollywood Nights.” The event also included a performance by hip-hop artist Bow Wow. Honda awarded each showcase band with a $20,000 grant and each participating Celebration Tour (the HBOB’s prequalifying event) band with $1,000.
While no concrete plans have been made, Braxton-White and American Honda are looking forward to the 10th anniversary event next year. “We’re going to have some surprises, and it might be different,” Braxton-White says. “This is a program that Honda is committed to, and we’d like to see it go on for as long as we can.”