Marching 100 invited to play at Grammys

The Marching 100 will perform on stage at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards alongside Grammy-winning rapper/producer Kanye West and Oscar-winner and Grammy nominee Jamie Foxx Feb. 8. 

West’s producers phoned Friday to invite the Marching 100 to Los Angeles to perform, as the band was en route to Atlanta to participate in the Honda Battle of the Bands. 

“The phone call inspired them to give a brilliant performance at the Battle of the Bands. It was just overwhelming,” said Julian White, director of the band.

Upon request for verification, the show’s producers sent an email detailing the events that were to unfold and scheduled a meeting with the university.

The acceptance phone call, however, was not the first received in regards to the band performing at the Grammys. 

“Last Wednesday we got a call inquiring about an audition tape,” White said.

After getting a call from West’s producers, a press kit, which included recordings of the Marching 100, was mailed overnight. 

The producers received the press kit Thursday and made the inviting phone call Friday.

“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 was made based on the Marching 100’s precision and showmanship.

“We were sold on this band because of their athleticism in marching, and they’re over the top,” Buzzelli added.

The production company looked at about eight tapes, but already had a long list of potential bands for such an event. 

“When we figured this was what we wanted to do, we knew what we were looking for,” Buzzelli said. 

The producers, in fact, were looking for 20 students-trombone, trumpet and percussion players.

There was a second audition, which determined which 20 students would perform. 

“A choreographer came in and taught 32 counts. The auditions were video taped and the best were chosen,” said Tallie Brinson, 21, a senior music education student from Atlanta.

About 45 students auditioned. Of the 45 students, 20 were selected go to Los Angeles. 

There are four trumpeters: Shelvin Robinson, Andrew Thurston, Michael Simmons and Shaun West; four trombonists: Tallie Brinson, Jasen Tobin, William Oliver and Michael Scott; four tuba players: Charles Murray, Randy Pierre, Ralph Jen-Paul and James West: and eight percussionists: Rashaad Brown, Dontay Douglass, Jeremy George, Ashley Mackey, Shawn Turner, Weldon Grey, Bryan Hooper and John Ralph.

Wednesday, the band room echoed as the students practiced West’s “Gold Digger” featuring Foxx and “Touch the Sky” songs off of his “Late Registration” album. 

After rehearsing the 20-member band traveled to a local studio where they recorded pieces of the selections for their performance on the Grammy’s. 

The students are scheduled to depart Friday at 7:20 a.m.  Once in Los Angeles, the band will check into a first class hotel-all expenses paid.

The band will rehearse rigorously until Feb. 7 and will take the stage Feb. 8 to perform “Gold Digger” which is nominated for Record of the Year and Best Rap Solo Performance and “Touch the Sky.”

“We don’t know what else can be done to surpass everything else. When FAMU puts good things out, FAMU gets good things in return,” White said.