By Megan Gosa
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — A top Los Angeles Lakers executive said the organization was proud to have Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands perform at a halftime game during their visit to Pasadena, California, for the 2022 Rose Bowl Parade.
TSU was one of only four marching bands to participate in this year’s Tournament of Roses on New Year’s Day, and the only one from a historically black college or university.
“The Lakers are honored and proud to host the world-famous Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands in our house, ringing in the New Year and celebrating 75 years of legacy!” Kiesha Nix, Vice President of Charitable Affairs & Lakers Youth Foundation, said before the halftime performance. “No coincidence that the TSU Aristocrat of Bands and the NBA are both celebrating 75 years of excellence and triumph.”
Called the “West Coast Swing,” the AOB also wowed crowds during other performances that included the Disneyland Park and California African American Museum.
At Crypto.com Arena, formerly Staples Center, the AOB followed a longtime Lakers tradition, in which the HBCU selected to perform in the Rose Bowl Parade is also invited to perform at a Lakers game during the school’s visit.
“The Lakers count it a privilege to be a part of this epic moment in time and to make lifelong memories for the TSU students,” said Nix.
She added that it is important to feature HBCUs to Lakers’ fans.
“This is significant since all of us have not experienced the privilege of attending a Historically Black College or University,” said Nix. “I feel as though the rich history, traditions, and pride will be felt in every musical note, dance movement, and instrument that graces our arena floor. I am confident a story will unfold live and in-person that embodies the spirit of Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands and carries all the HBCUs along with it.”
AOB band member and lead drum major Travion Crutcher said his experience in California was “truly amazing.”
“We had the opportunity to showcase to the world what makes the AOB different from other marching bands,” he said. “This trip was filled with memorable moments created with friends and with once-in-a-lifetime performances. Thank you to everyone who had a part in making this experience possible for me and my fellow band members.”
California is home to one of the largest TSU alumni in the country. Many attended the parade, while other fans traveled from afar to hear their beloved AOB perform.
“We are still getting positive feedback from folks at all of our events,” said TSU Director of Bands, Dr. Regional McDonald. “I must say thank you to our alumni. They came in droves like a homecoming or at a classic game. Their support was overwhelming.”