|Image via amazon.com|
At this point, I don't yet own it - That moment will come early this week, Amazon willing. But before I turn a single page, I'm already geeked for all that it represents. The book is the first ever HBCU band anthology, telling first-hand accounts of former bandmembers and lifelong devotees to their experience within HBCU marching bands and how such experience helped make them the people they are today. The book is the latest in the HBCU Experience Movement series, founded by Dr. Ashley Little an alumna of North Carolina A&T. The series seeks to tell the stories of our HBCUs and the amazing alumni they produce; naturally, the experience of the bands could not be denied.
Dr. Christy Walker is the lead author for the Band Alumni Edition, and while this book is the first anthology in such a format, Christy began the work of "protecting our history, preserving the craft" more than two decades ago as one of the co-founders of The5thQuarter.com. From 1999-2019, The 5th Quarter served as the definitive virtual gathering space for HBCU bandmembers, and through it, she cultivated countless relationships within the bandosphere. Many of the 5th's denizens grace the pages of the book as contributing authors. These band alumni have gone on to success in myriad fields, many of which are not directly music related.
In fact, just as much as the band and culture aspects of the book, hearing of the alumni's successes in varied fields intrigues me. My degree and career are in student affairs, and the narrative of a cocurricular experience like marching band paying lifelong dividends is precisely why I do the work I do. While many types of involvement can provide positive outcomes in college and beyond, I've always not-so-humbly believed that a collegiate athletic band provides a unique experience that at once connects a member to their alma mater, instills a work ethic, and encourages a pursuit of excellence, all of which endure for a lifetime.
Personally, I can't wait to crack into it in a day or two, and if you find yourself here, I expect you may share this excitement. The HBCU Experience: Band Alumni Edition, along with the series' other books, can be found on Amazon; Dr. Christy Walker can also be found hosting The HBCU Band Experience wherever you get your podcasts.