New Documentary Highlights Top Marching Bands’ “Road to Houston”

Primarily Black schools are front and center in the yearly National Battle of the Bands competition.

By Geneva Diaz February 6, 2023

Photo Credit: National Battle of the Bands

Prepared, dedicated, and precise are just a few ways to describe the talented members competing in this year’s National Battle of the Bands (NBOTB). Back for a third season in the NBOTB documentary film series, this year’s installment, The Road To Houston: Preparing to Battle, takes viewers on a journey through the 2022 marching band season as members and directors prepared to perform in front of 55,000 fans at Houston’s NRG Stadium last August. 

As a part of its Black History Month celebration, NBOTB, highlights the nation's best historically Black college and university (HBCU) marching bands. This year’s film shines a light on the entirety of the NBOTB production—from the hard work and sacrifice it takes to put on the best football halftime shows and homecoming parades, to the iconic performances of recent history (remember Beyonce’s show at 2018’s Coachella?), to the most cut throat competitions you’ve ever seen.

"From powerful interviews to exclusive band camp and live performance footage, this film promises to be an emotional and inspiring trip into what it takes for these HBCU band programs and their talented musicians to prepare for one of America's largest marching band events," Derek Webber, executive producer, creator, and CEO of Webber Marketing said. "We hope the film will inspire others to appreciate and support the art of marching bands and the rich cultural heritage of HBCU bands."

The legacy of HBCU marching bands dates back to 1946 at Florida A&M College (FAMU), where the first modern HBCU marching band to infuse modern showmanship with Black culture was created. The band Marching 100, led by Dr. William P. Foster, the school's fourth band director, grew in popularity through televised Super Bowl performances and presidential inauguration parades.

With the support of Harris County Houston Sports Authority and the City of Houston, the “National Battle of the Bands'' last year’s event attracted thousands of fans, alumni, and students. The battle has generated close to one million dollars in scholarships for participating colleges and universities. The 2022 event in Houston featured dozens of HBCU bands from across the country, including:

  • Alabama A&M University, Marching Maroon & White Band
  • Alcorn State University, The Sounds of Dyn-O-mite Marching Band
  • Bethune Cookman University, Marching Wildcats
  • Grambling State University, World Famed Tiger Marching Band
  • Kentucky State University, Mighty Marching Thorobreds
  • North Carolina A&T State University, The Blue and Gold Marching Machine
  • Prairie View A&M University, Marching Storm Band
  • Southern University, Human Jukebox

Tune in on KPRC-NBC on Saturday, February 18 at 9:30 a.m. CST. For a full listing of where to watch NBOTB’s The Road To Houston: Preparing to Battle, visit their website.

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