Son of award-winning Florida A&M University instructors Theodore and Beulah Hemmingway, Ph.D., Kofi Hemmingway, 45, was bred to be the new “voice of Bragg.”
Hemmingway, born in Columbia, S.C., spent the majority of his life in Tallahassee, where he attended FAMU High and eventually graduated from Rickards High in 1988. Later that year, he enrolled at FAMU where he joined the Marching 100 as a trombonist, but he didn’t stop there. Hemmingway went on to serve as the band vice president in 1991 and president in 1992.
Fellow band member and current director of marching and pep bands, Shelby Chipman, Ph.D., shares his admiration for Hemmingway.
“He’s very magical to me,” Chipman said. “He has qualities of show planning, being very creative and thinking outside of the box. He really has that dynamic ability to create things that most people wouldn’t think about.”
These qualities are essential when rallying crowds that can reach up to 40,000 people. But this is not anything new for Kofi Hemmingway.
As a professional, Hemmingway worked as band announcer for Rickards High, as well as Miami Central Senior High. He later relocated to Atlanta where he served as a minister and tennis instructor to over 200 students, but the position as the voice of Bragg is one that he felt he was always meant for.
“My whole life people have been talking to me about my voice and saying ‘you really have a nice voice,’” Hemmingway said. “I’ve been in oratorical contests since about age 12, and in the baptist church you grow up doing Easter speeches and stuff like that so that (public speaking) was just a way of life.”
Over the course of three nationally-televised episodes on FOX Sports, Hemmingway was chosen out of a pool of 25 nationwide applicants for the position as stadium announcer. He said he almost didn’t apply for the position.
“I decided at the very last minute on the last day to actually put my application in,” Hemmingway said.
The thought of the possible competition and wondering whether or not he was qualified, he said, aided to the procrastination but he quickly realized that he had to “just get out there and do it.”
Kofi Hemmingway had his debut performance this past weekend in Mobile, Ala. at the 5th Quarter Classic where FAMU took on Tuskegee. This was his introduction to the masses and he did not disappoint.
“Over 19,000 fans were there listening to him from both FAMU and TU and whenever he felt as if the crowd was dying down, he would immediately bring them to their feet with a ‘Rattler Fans, where you at,” said Voice of Bragg producer Morgan Culler. “It was amazing to watch and a joy to listen to.”