Six marching bands showcase proud traditions
By Kristina Dixon
Thousands of fans, students and alumni converged upon Alabama State University (ASU) on Saturday, Feb. 18 to take part in the 18th Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase (HBOB), the nation’s premiere showcase for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) marching bands and dance teams.
Marking its return to a live event format for the first time since 2020, HBOB also was held for the first time on an HBCU campus, featuring spectacular performances from six marching bands representing HBCUs.
This year’s HBOB theme, “Driving the Legacy,” celebrated the distinct culture and heritage of HBCUs, honoring HBCU traditions and the important role these institutions play in providing higher education and opportunities for advancement to the Black community.
ASU alumnus and legendary comedian Rickey Smiley hosted the HBOB live event, while Emmy and two-time NAACP Image Award-winning host, comedian, and Prairie View A&M University alumna Loni Love hosted the HBOB livestream.
The six HBCU marching bands that performed in the 2023 HBOB Invitational Showcase included Alabama State University, Mighty Marching Hornets seventh appearance; Langston University, Marching Pride fourth appearance; Morgan State University, Magnificent Marching Machine first appearance; Savannah State University, Powerhouse of the South seventh appearance; Texas Southern University, Ocean of Soul third appearance; and Virginia State University, Trojan Explosion tenth appearance.
The Invitational Showcase provided these marching bands with a national platform to display their talent, both live and streamed online. Each of the six bands received an all-expenses-paid trip to the HBOB Invitational Showcase. Building on Honda’s long standing support for HBCUs, each of the six participating universities also received a $50,000 grant from Honda to support their music education and career development programs.
Honda also supported nonprofit organizations within the host city of Montgomery through $100,000 in local grants and $20,000 to two non profit organizations that partnered with Honda on a new mural installed on the ASU campus.
In addition to the marching band performances at the showcase, HBOB also included an HBCU College Fair hosted by ASU to connect high school students with representatives from ASU; Savannah State University; and Virginia State University. Prospective college students met with marching band and admissions recruiters to discuss admissions requirements, financial aid, student life and scholarship opportunities. Students who attended the college fair received free admission to the HBOB Invitational Showcase.