It reigns on the highest of seven hills in Tallahassee. Local radio personality Joe Bullard describes its sound as clear and electrifying. It’s known as “the incomparable, magnificent, fabulous and fantastic” Marching “100.”
Florida A&M’s marching band was founded more than 60 years ago. Since its inception, the Marching “100” has graced magazines such as Ebony and Jet, newspapers such as The Miami Herald and performed at events such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and President Barack Obama’s 2009 Inaugural Parade, to a name a few.
Now the band’s magnificence is told through Big Time Media Executive Producer Herman Hall Jr.’s documentary “Beyond the Beat: The Untold Stories of Black College Bands.” The documentary sheds light on historically black college and university bands, including Jackson State, Alabama State and Alabama A&M universities.
The entertainment documentary gives viewers with an exclusive look at HBCU bands that has rarely been seen. Beyond the “glamour and the glitter” are extensive and arduous training sessions to ensure stellar performances and life-changing lessons to ensure a better future.
Hall wanted viewers to be aware of the college band experience that is seldom shown.
“I’d like viewers to walk away understanding that HBCU band life is a different world that they didn’t have an in-depth knowledge about,” Hall said.
Former band members discuss topics such as the expectations and standards they must uphold and how their involvement with the Marching “100” has structured and arranged their lives.
Current band member Tamedra Smith, a pre-nursing student from Augusta, Ga., is cognizant of the responsibility that comes with being a band member.
“As a band member, you have to live by the band motto in everything you do,” Smith said. “You have to be responsible for all of your actions. For example, being at practice, knowing your music …”
The documentary presents viewers with the mentality and focus students gain from being a part of the band.
“They are hardworking, multi-talented students who generally have long-lasting and meaningful relationships/friendships well beyond their college years,” Hall said.
“Beyond the Beat” enlightens its audience on the historical background and legacy of HBCU marching bands. Julian White, former Marching “100” band director, gives an intimate description on how he envisioned and prepared the band. White explains why the band has stayed relevant over the years.
“It’s the energy,” White said. “It’s the commitment, the variety of what we do, I think, that captures the hearts of many people.”
William Foster, the late Marching “100” creator and founder, divulges how the band was created and molded into the present day. Foster’s interview, held within this 90-minute documentary, tells his story of pursuing his dream and his 52 years of leading numerous students to reach outstanding heights.