TSU’S world-renowned Aristocrat of Bands names new leaders, prepares for 2021 Tournament of Roses

(top row l-r) Julien Dooley, will lead the ‘Fantastic 4.’ , Justin Ramsey, Drum Major No. 2 (bottom row l-r) Travion Crutcher, Drum Major No.3 and Cameron Brown, Drum Major No. 4.

As the Tennessee State University Aristocrat of Bands prepares for its historic appearance in the Tournament of Roses in January, the marching band has announced a new lineup of drum majors.

The new ‘Fantastic 4,’ as they are called, were announced at the AOB’s recent virtual banquet, which also recognized outgoing drum majors who are part of the 2020 TSU graduating class. Julian Dooley, a senior communications major from Decatur, Georgia, who will lead the new Fantastic 4, is the only returning member. Joining him are Justen Ramsey, junior, health science, from Atlanta; Travion Crutcher, junior, mechanical engineering, from Huntsville, Alabama; and Cameron Brown, senior, mass communications major from Birmingham, Alabama.

Dr. Reginald McDonald, TSU’s director of bands, congratulated the new Fantastic 4, and paid special tribute to the outgoing members for their accomplishments and service to the university.

“I thank you for your love, service, hard work, dedication and loyalty to the Fantastic 4, the Aristocrat of Bands and Tennessee State University,” McDonald said. “Congratulations on your accomplishment in earning your degrees. We wish you the very best in all of your future endeavors.”

The outgoing drum majors, who will receive their bachelor’s degrees in various disciplines at the August 1 commencement ceremonies are Hassan Moody, from Decatur, Georgia, business administration; Cole Gilbert, from Jonesboro, Georgia, health science; and Xavier Ellis, from Stone Mountain, Georgia, criminal Justice.

At the virtual banquet, the AOB also announced captains for the Sophisticated Ladies, Royal Elegance, and section leaders for the instrumentalist.

In March, the world-renowned AOB received official invitation to participate in the 2021 Rose Bowl Parade on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, California. Dr. Robert B. Miller, president/chairman of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, came to TSU to personally present the band with the official tournament flag and invitation.

The AOB will be one of only four university bands nationwide to participate in the parade, with a domestic television audience of more than 38 million.

“Only the best of the best are invited and the Aristocrat of Bands is one of them,” Miller said in the Gentry Complex, amid thunderous cheers from university officials, relatives, former band members, and Mr. and Miss TSU and their royal court.

Cailyn Sparks, a member of the AOB Sophisticated Ladies Dance Line, called the Rose Bowl Parade invitation “an opportunity of a lifetime.”

“I am glad my mom and dad and maybe some other family members will be there,” said Sparks, a junior elementary education major from Phoenix City, Alabama, who will be going to California for the first time. “I am extremely excited about going to the Rose Bowl and excited to be there with my family.”

“If you know anything about parades in this country, the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Macy’s Parade are numbers one and two,” McDonald said. “To have either one of those parades on your performance as a portfolio, says a lot about your band program.”

In addition to the Tournament of Roses invitation, receiving the Best Band ranking, and a record ninth appearance at Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational, the AOB is enjoying a stellar year of achievements and accolades. In April 2019, during the NFL Draft in the Music City, the AOB were featured on the nationally syndicated ESPN sports talk show, First Take. The band received a shout out from pop star Lizzo for the band’s rendition of her ‘Truth Hurts’ medley. In January 2019, percussionists from the band performed in the Rose Parade. They were also featured performers at the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons’ 2019 home opener.