It was all smiles at the White House September 23 as President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama listened in awe to the wonderful sounds of Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands.
The band was invited to Washington, D.C. to celebrate the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture—the first HBCU band to perform for the Obama administration at the White House.
The Smithsonian Institution’s new museum had its grand opening on September 24 on the National Mall.
The celebrity list of who’s who listening to the performance on the south lawn included music icon Quincy Jones, former basketball star Kobe Bryant, and Hollywood celebrities Debbie Allen and Samuel L. Jackson, just to name a few. There were also dignitaries and current and former government officials, including former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
“We are extremely proud that our band and university are a part of this historic event with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for the grand opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in our nation’s capital,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “This is a proud moment for TSU, as we continue to build on our great legacy.”
The band’s tunes included Al Green’s ‘I’m Still In Love With You,’ and TSU favorite, ‘I’m So Glad I Go to TSU.’ Mrs. Obama liked what she heard so much that she posted the band on Instagram.
Dr. Reginald McDonald, TSU’s director of University Bands, called the opportunity to perform at the White House a “once in a lifetime chance.”
“A lot of people would never be able to say that they’ve had the opportunity to meet the President of the United States, let alone play on the White House lawn,” McDonald said. “This is tremendous.”
Later, President Glover and her delegation were invited to the Grand Hall of the White House for a reception with other dignitaries, following which the President and the first lady joined Dr. Glover and the Aristocrat of Bands for a photo.
TSU Music Department head Robert Elliott said it’s an honor to have the university’s Aristocrat of Bands chosen for the performance.
The university said in a news release it also has several items included as part of opening exhibits at the museum. TSU special projects director Grant Winrow helped coordinate the display and said the items and the band will show everyone what TSU can do.
Two days later, the AOB also performed at the Tennessee Titans home game against the Oakland Raiders.