Marching 100 perform at NFL game

FAMU’s Marching 100 performed at the TIAA Bank Field Stadium this past Sunday, October 23rd. Photo courtesy: @themarching100

Florida A&M’s Marching 100 performed during halftime at the Jacksonville Jaguars home game against the New York Giants this past Sunday, Oct. 23. The game took place at TIAA Bank Field Stadium, the Jaguars’ home facility, in downtown Jacksonville.

The week before that, on October 16th, the marching band traveled to Atlanta for a halftime performance at the Falcons game versus the San Francisco 49ers at Mercedes Benz Stadium.

For the Marching 100, which actually consists of 282 people, these types of performances are nothing out of the ordinary. As a matter of fact, FAMU’s band has been invited to play at multiple professional football games this season.

“We were invited by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints as well,” Dr. Shelby Chipman, Director of Bands at FAMU, said. “We had to pass on some just because of the schedule.”

Because the football team had a bye week this past weekend, the marching band was available to travel to Jacksonville without interference. The week before that, while the football team was in Louisiana securing a victory over the Grambling State Tigers, the Marching 100 was able to make the trip to Atlanta.

Donald Beckwith has been the equipment manager for the Marching 100 for nearly four decades, and travels with the band to all of their performances, including the two recent NFL games.

“I was very impressed with the stadium and the crowd response,” Beckwith said. “Those stadiums are full capacity, and for the students to get that experience performing for fifty to sixty thousand people, that’s a win-win for both parties.”

The Marching 100 has enjoyed an exceptional reputation for decades, and for this reason, they have received invitations to numerous major events.

This past summer, the Marching 100 traveled to France to perform at a Louis Vuitton fashion show located at the legendary Louvre Museum for Paris Fashion Week. Musician Kendrick Lamar and model Naomi Campbell could be seen sitting front row while they bobbed their heads enthusiastically during the performance.

Dr. Chipman mentioned that he was sitting in his office one day when he received a call from a strange and unrecognizable international number. He almost didn’t answer because he thought it could’ve been a scam call, but once he answered, he knew it was serious.

The Marching 100 is no stranger to the NFL. In 2007, they performed with Prince at the Super Bowl XLI halftime show, which included a performance of his hit song “Purple Rain” that took place during a picturesque Miami downpour. As Dr. Chipman put it, “that was just different.”

Since then, FAMU’s band has been featured in many other NFL pregame, halftime, and postgame shows. This is due to their reputation, which they’ve maintained over the years, in spite of a hazing controversy that resulted in a one-year suspension about a decade ago. Despite this setback, the Marching 100 has continued to increase in both size and popularity.

“We’ve always been ‘crescendo-ing’, as they say in music, in terms of numbers and presence,” Dr. Chipman said. “You know, we did the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California in 2019; we’ve done Carnegie Hall with the concert band in 2015; we’ve done our Music Education Association (FMEA) for all the music educators in the state of Florida; and of course, more recently, Paris. So, people are still calling FAMU.”