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
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,”
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.”