Members of the Marching 100, shown in rehearsal for the Grammys, practiced Kanye West's "Gold Digger" and "Touch the Sky."
By Constance Rush
Black College Wire
Members of Florida A&M University's band the Marching 100 are scheduled to perform Feb. 8 at the Grammy Awards, alongside Grammy-winning rapper-producer Kanye West and Oscar winner and Grammy nominee Jamie Foxx.
The 20 students selected left for Los Angeles over the weekend.
The band received the invitation from West's producers Jan. 31 as members were en route to Atlanta to participate in the Honda Battle of the Bands.
Photos by Curtis Blue Jr./The Famuan
"The phone call inspired them to give a brilliant performance at the Battle of the Bands. It was just overwhelming," said band director Julian White.
The previous week, West's producers called inquiring about an audition tape, White said. The band sent them a press kit by overnight mail that included recordings of the Marching 100.
The producers received the kit Jan. 26 and called with the invitation the next day.
"We got tapes from a number of groups across the country, " said Randy Buzzelli of Phoenix Music Group, the company responsible for West's production. The decision to pick the Marching 100 was based on its precision and showmanship, he said.
"We were sold on this band because of their athleticism in marching, and they're over the top," Buzzelli added.
The producers were looking for 20 students -- trombone, trumpet and percussion players. A second audition determined which 20 would perform. Forty-five auditioned.
"The auditions were videotaped and the best were chosen," said Tallie Brinson, 21, a senior music education student from Atlanta.
After that, the band room echoed as the students practiced West's "Gold Digger," featuring Foxx, and "Touch the Sky," both from West's "Late Registration" album. "Gold Digger" is nominated for Record of the Year and Best Rap Solo Performance.
Next, the 20 traveled to a local studio, where they recorded pieces of the selections for their Grammy performance.
In Los Angeles, the band was due to check into a first class hotel, all expenses paid.
"We don't know what else can be done to surpass everything else," White said. "When FAMU puts good things out, FAMU gets good things in return," White said.
The awards program airs at 8 p.m. Eastern time on CBS.
The band members selected were trumpeters Shelvin Robinson, Andrew Thurston, Michael Simmons and Shaun West; trombonists Tallie Brinson, Jasen Tobin, William Oliver and Michael Scott; tuba players Charles Murray, Randy Pierre, Ralph Jen-Paul and James West; and percussionists Rashaad Brown, Dontay Douglass, Jeremy George, Ashley Mackey, Shawn Turner, Weldon Grey, Bryan Hooper and John Ralph.
Constance Rush, a student at Florida A&M University, writes for the Famuan. She can be reached at [email protected]
Posted Feb. 5, 2006