For Immediate Release
February 17, 2024
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Rob Knox

(BPRW) HBCUs Uplifted by Musical Excellence

(Black PR Wire) Throughout Black History Month, Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is honoring the excellence of Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) and their rich legacy by spotlighting some of the biggest musical influencers and contributors to the world, especially since the Grammy Awards were earlier this month. 

In the Black community, music holds immense cultural importance, and HBCUs stand as essential hubs of musical innovation and talent. These historic campuses provided safe havens for musicians to showcase their skills, particularly during the era of segregation when many performance venues were off-limits to Black artists.

Across various genres, including classical, jazz, R&B, and rap, HBCUs have played pivotal roles in nurturing Black musical talent. Renowned figures in music, such as Yolanda Adams (Texas Southern), Lionel Richie (Tuskegee), Cab Calloway (Lincoln University of Pennsylvania), Leontyne Price (Central State), and Common (Florida A&M) are among the notable alums who honed their craft at HBCUs.

Music serves as a universal language that transcends racial and ethnic boundaries, connecting people across the globe.

For example, songs, chants, and performances have been intertwined with social justice movements, serving as a powerful platform for activism and advocacy. Often used to express resistance, resilience, and calls for justice in the face of systemic racism and oppression, music has been the connective tissue uniting Blacks from when the first slave ships arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, to now.

The legacy of Black musical excellence is exemplified by groups like the Fisk Jubilee Singers, who introduced ‘slave songs’ to the world in 1871, preserving the unique tradition of Negro spirituals. Their groundbreaking achievements broke racial barriers and earned them international acclaim, culminating in the prestigious 2008 National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest honor for artists and patrons of the arts. The award was presented by President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush during a ceremony at the White House.

More recently, the Tennessee State University marching band, better known as the Aristocrat of Bands, made history by becoming the first HBCU marching band to win a Grammy Award in 2023. Their album, “The Urban Hymnal” blends gospel music with modern influences and authentic marching bands sounds.

HBCU marching bands have been staples of American society. Jackson State’s Sonic Boom of the South wowed a national audience during Usher’s halftime performance during Super Bowl LVIII. In addition to performing at prestigious events like Super Bowls, HBCU bands have also been featured during presidential inaugurations, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade. These platforms not only showcase their musical prowess but also celebrate their cultural heritage and contributions to society.

Among some of the more notable musicians that either graduated or attended HBCUs are K. Michelle (Florida A&M), Megan Thee Stallion (Texas Southern), Randy Jackson (Southern), Erykah Badu (Grambling State), Gladys Knight (Shaw), Toni Braxton (Bowie State), Rick Ross (Albany State), Ruben Studdard (Alabama A&M), Roberta Flack (Howard), Killer Mike (Morehouse), Bobby Valentino (Clark Atlanta) and 2 Chainz (Alabama State). 

Throughout history, HBCUs have led the way for the musical brilliance of many individuals by providing perfect platforms that have helped cultivate their creative and artistic excellence. TMCF takes great pride in the rich history of HBCUs and the talented musicians who have graced their campuses. Through its unwavering support, TMCF continues to champion HBCUs and their students, enabling them to pursue their dreams as they make indelible marks on the world stage.

Source: Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF)