Tennessee State University featured in virtual inaugural celebration


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As part of a 90-minute virtual presidential inauguration celebration, the Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands made yet another national appearance.

The band’s performance was featured as part of the “We Are One” inaugural celebration which was live streamed across multiple platforms.

“The Aristocrat of Bands did what the Aristocrat of Bands does,” said Tiara Thomas, a junior French Horn player. “We adjusted and as you can see, it didn’t really stop our progression.”

TSU is the first historically black college or university to perform in an inaugural parade. That was in 1961 for President John F. Kennedy.

On Tuesday, TSU was one of only six HBCUs included in the celebration. TSU was featured alongside schools like Southern University, Florida A&M and Jackson State.

“This process is an outgrowth of us applying for the inaugural parade. Our President (Glenda) Glover asked us to apply and we applied. The application had to be submitted some time in November,” said Reginald McDonald, director of bands and orchestra for TSU.

“We received an acceptance letter the last week of December … and at that time, it was stated that the inaugural events would be virtual. So, we had to reshift our thinking.”

The opportunity came after months of no football games, and socially distanced rehearsals.

“We had to take certain precautions,” Thomas said. “Everyone had to get a COVID test every week. We also had to invest in masks that covered our face and our nose, but it left a hole to play our instruments and things like that. So, that was a huge adjustment because now I’m playing and marching with something covering my face.”

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