Sunday, November 11, I had the experience of a lifetime. Through the freezing cold weather of the night, I was still able to laugh and enjoy a very memorable time with my family in the stands of a college football stadium.
At Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, The Big HBCU Classic hosted The Battle of The Bands, presented by HBCU Halftime.
HBCU stands for Historical Black College, and in this event, five historically black colleges were able to compete.
Three of the colleges that competed were native to North Carolina, and the rest traveled from South Carolina. The three North Carolina schools challenged to compete were: North Carolina A&T, North Carolina Central University, and Winston-Salem State University. Benedict College, and South Carolina State were the only other out-of-state schools.
The event line up consisted of a series of vendors outside the stadium known as the “fan fest.” For all band lovers, you were able to purchase any gear represented by the bands that were performing the following day.
The day of the band performances a career and college fair, funded by Allstate, ran from 1:00 through 3:00pm, right before the pre-competition which started at four in the afternoon.
As a pre-show, high schools from the local Queen city area were also invited to showcase their musical talents. The high school bands that performed, in my opinion, were very advanced for the grade level they were in. In amazement by not only the selections of songs they could perform, but by how such individuals at a young age were able to successfully carry out a show as well as they did.
The official competition began at five that Sunday evening. Each band had a total of fifteen minutes to showcase their musical talents, with the accompany of dancers and band specialty conductors.
The first HBCU band to charge the field was Winston-Salem State University. Dressed in red, back, and silver the marching band made being challenged first look easy. They started with an open act of the hit song; “Rock with You,” by Michael Jackson, which varied also by other bands. Winston-Salem had a very diverse range of songs using their once allotted fifteen minutes to a max.
My favorite band of the night was the spectacular Benedict College, located in South Carolina. The college once unknown to me made such an impression that I am now interested in looking into their program. Benedict College known for their, “crisp and clear sound,” made known by the announcer. I would very much say the marching band of Benedict College lived up to those expectations. In my opinion, the band, dancers, and conductors put on a spectacular performance. The dynamic sound had the crowd singing along to the instrumental of the band and even dancing along.
North Carolina A&T State University was another top-notch band among the five that performed Sunday night. The performance delivered by North Carolina A&T was outstanding. The university had a flourish of members compared to the other bands, which made their audio sound superb. The dancers were able to change attire, during their fifth quarter challenge giving the audience versatility.
The fifth quarter of the night consisted of each band having a final chance to showcase their musical abilities as a whole.The marching bands aligned across the field preparing for a final showdown. Each band performed a selection of choice for about two minutes for a showdown of a real battle of the bands.
In the end, a winner didn’t come about, due to the battle remaining friendly and just for fun.
Through the experience of Battle of the Bands, I enjoyed the Hbcu vibes given to the fans and audience members, for an amazing performance. I was able to get a small glimpse at what attending a historical black college might feel like while creating memories with my family.