Tennessee State University Marching Band Wins Grammy Award

TSU Aristocrat of Bands took home the best roots gospel album award for “The Urban Hymnal,” making it the first collegiate marching band to win a Grammy.
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  • Co-producers Sir the Baptist and Larry Jenkins accepted the award at the Grammy ceremony.
  • Sir the Baptist celebrated the students' win and called attention to underfunding at HBCUs.
  • Most of the TSU band watched the Grammy Awards at a watch party on their Nashville campus.

Tennessee State University (TSU), one of the country's historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), is the first collegiate marching band to win a Grammy Award.

On Feb. 5, TSU's Aristocrat of Bands won the 2023 Grammy in the best roots gospel album category for their album "The Urban Hymnal."

The album's co-producers, Sir the Baptist and marching band assistant director Larry Jenkins, took the stage to accept the award while the band celebrated at a campus watch party.

"These kids worked so hard, and to be honest with you guys, HBCUs are so grossly underfunded, to where I had to put my last dime in order to get us across the line," said Sir the Baptist. "We're here with our pockets empty, but our hands aren't!"

TSU released the album on Sept. 23, 10 days after their lead single, "FLY (Y.M.M.F)."

The marching band received congratulations from White House HBCUs, an initiative to promote innovation and sustainability at HBCUs, and John Cooper, the mayor of Nashville, where TSU is located.

"Your hard work and dedication created the pen that allowed you to write your own page in the history books," Jenkins said at the Grammy Awards. "This is history, but this is also February. We made Black history."

The 2023 Grammys also gave historic wins to Beyoncé and Viola Davis.

Beyoncé broke the record for most Grammy wins in history with her 2022 album "Renaissance." Davis became the third Black woman in history to earn EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony winner) status. The actress won her Grammy for "Finding Me" in the best audio book, narration, and storytelling recording category.