Howard University Capstone

Showtime Marching Band photo

The band was notified of its selection on Dec. 6 and then spent the next several weeks preparing, with a lot of hard work and practice.

Pictured: Showtime Marching Band.

Photo by Reginald Culbertson

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Howard Band Marches in Step with Historic Inauguration
By Michael Olajumoke, sophomore, School of Communications; intern, Office of University Communications

It’s a day that will be remembered for generations to come—the inauguration of our nation’s first Black president. It is also a day that members of the Howard University Showtime Marching Band will remember for a long time with great pride. With the University banner proudly displayed, the band marched past the presidential reviewing stand during the 56th Inaugural Parade, playing the 1979 Diana Ross song “The Boss.”

“It was an honor,” said Band Director John Newson. “With President Obama being the new boss and the first African-American president, the title of that tune was very appropriate,” Newson said.

The band had originally intended to play “Signed, Sealed and Delivered”—a song that Obama often played on the campaign trail—but after hearing that other bands were going to play the Stevie Wonder hit, he decided to change the band’s tune to “The Boss.”

The band was notified of its selection on Dec. 6 and then spent the next several weeks preparing, with a lot of hard work and practice.

“The selection process was twofold,” said Newson. “First, I filled out an online application, with pictures of the band and two videos. A profile sheet on the school and an essay on why the school band should be selected had to be completed as well. There were rumors that we had been selected, and when I found out I was elated to the maximum,” said Newson.

A total of 220 band members participated in the parade—186 instrumentalists, 15 dance squad members, 14 flag squad members, 2 drum majors and 3 directors.

Taylor Potts, a band member and sophomore music education major, recalled that during the wait to perform band members did the electric slide to keep warm.

“After the event we had family members calling us saying they saw us on T.V! We did this for a lot of people,” said Potts.

Phillip San Gabriel, a fellow band member and euphonium player, said he was “extremely excited” to participate. “I am fortunate to be at Howard and to also be part of history in the making,” he said.

Speaking about the march past the presidential reviewing stand Gabriel said, “I remember seeing a sign saying ‘eyes to the left’ as we rounded the corner to march past the stand. Seeing President Obama was the shortest, longest moment of my life.”

Newson also praised the University and especially President Sidney Ribeau for the support the band received. “He came over to congratulate all of us,” said Newson. “We were elated. He stood at the back of the room during practice and listened to the band play. It meant a lot to me and the band members.”

Newson has already made a commitment to apply again if President Obama wins a second term. “If I am still working four years from now,” he said. “I will apply again! I just hope the weather will be warmer.”

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