P R A I R I E V I E W A & M U N I V E R S I T Y
The Marching Storm Band is the largest and one of the hardest working student organizations on the campus of Prairie View A&M University. The marching band has astonishingly been in existence for 80-plus years with known history dating back as far as World War II. During that time when the men were sent off to fight the war, an all-female band existed called the “Co-Eds.” After the return of the men, the band continued to flourish under many great directors who came from Florida A&M University (FAMU), Tennessee State (TnSU), Virginia State University (VSU), and Prairie View A&M University(PVAMU). Current percussion director, Professor Larry Jones, is one the sole remaining directors from before the Marching Storm era. During the 1970s, He along with the former director of bands, Dr. Victor Hebert (PVAMU) and assistant, Dr. Lucius Wyatt (FAMU) grew the band with local talented musicians.
“Sounds of Success,” one of the first names for the marching band came under the direction of Dr. William McQueen (FAMU) who took over in 1977. Along his side were: Professor Larry Jones, Dr. Margaret Sherrod (PV Alumni & Black Fox Director), and the "LATE/ GREAT" Professor George Edwards (FAMU). The band grew in size and continued to be recognized. The late Professor George Edwards arrived in 1978 as an assistant to Dr. William McQueen, and became the director of bands after his departure. Under his direction the band was known as the “Funky 50” (1984). In, 1989 a group of band students created a new name to go with the new direction of the program, hence: "The Marching Storm." During this time Dr. Mark Phillips (VSU) joined the staff as an assistant to Professor Edwards. Under the late George Edwards tenure, the Marching Storm entertained audiences around the U.S. and the world and developed a reputation for its unique sound. The Marching Storm is now considered among the most dynamic and skilled bands in the world for its unparalleled musical artistry, and electrifying and adventurous drum line which was showcased during each performance. Many music scholars attribute the growing popularity of drum line techniques to Edwards and the Marching Storm. Dr. William McQueen returned as an assistant to Professor Edwards, when Dr. Phillips returned to his alma mater as Director of Bands at Virginia State University in 1998.
A highlight in Professor Edwards' distinguished career, Was directing the Marching Storm Band’s inaugural performance in the 120th Tournament of Roses Association Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. on New Year’s Day 2009. Prairie View A&M’s band was the first band to perform in the Rose Parade pilot program to include bands from historically black colleges and universities in the parade each year. A tribute to his success and unique skill, Texas A&M University System Chancellor Michael McKinney invited Edwards, the Marching Storm Band and the Black Foxes auxiliary dance troupe, under the direction of Margaret Sherrod, to perform at Kyle Field during a Texas A&M University game— a first in the history of the TAMUS.
Under Edward’s tenure, the Marching Storm also performed in President George W. Bush’s Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C., in 2001 and was a featured performer in the 2004 Dallas Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day game. In 2006, he led the band to perform in the ESSENCE Music Festival in Houston. During January of 2004, the Storm received a standing ovation from a capacity crowd for its performance in the Georgia Dome during the second annual Honda Battle of the Bands contest in Atlanta. For four consecutive years, the Prairie View A&M University’s Marching Storm Band performed in the Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase, which later allowed Edwards and the band to be featured in “Stompin’ at the Dome” a DVD band documentary, which featured PVAMU. In July of 2006, the Storm also performed during the annual ESSENCE Music Festival held in Reliant Stadium. The world was also introduced to Edwards’ skill and the PVAMU Marching Storm during a feature in the British documentary “Marching All Together,” which aired on the BBC Network.
In 2007, Edwards’ compassion and fierce dedication was captured by the New York Times’ in a video and article which covered the band leading up to the annual Labor Day Classic football game between Prairie View A&M and Texas Southern University. After the untimely death of Professor Edwards in 2009, Dr. William McQueen returned as the director of bands. Along his side were: Professor Larry Jones, Dr. Margaret Sherrod, Dr. Nicholas Thomas, Mark Gordon (Staff Assistant), and Shanita Jeffery (Staff Assistant). Since, the Marching Storm has continued its tradition of excellence with performances at the 2009 Thanksgiving Halftime Show for the Houston Texans, Superbowl 45 Halftime Show with the Blackeyed Peas and Usher, and the 2011 MTV Woodie Awards Show.
As a result of its past success, the Storm’s popularity stretches from coast to coast as they were selected through a nationwide vote to participate in the annual Honda Battle of the Bands for the sixth time in 2012. Several of the Marching Storm’s prominent alumni include the likes of Terry Ellis (member of the Multi-Platinum recording group EnVogue), Virgin Records singing group IDEAL and Ricky LaFontaine of the Richard Smallwood Singers. In addition, the Storm also has several alumni directing award-winning high school bands across the state of Texas.
In the fall of 2012 a new Marching Storm era began under the direction of Dr. Timmey Zachery (NSU). Along his side are: Professor Larry Jones, Ricardo Brown (Upper Brass), Ralph Chapman (Woodwinds), Brandon Hopkins (Arranger and Lower Brass), Julian Luke (Arranger), Loran Bailey (Percussion Assistant), Mrs. Shawn Zachery (Black Fox Volunteer Director), and Mrs. Shanita Jeffery (Staff Assistant). In, 2015 The Storm Staff was happy to welcome back Dr. Mark Phillips as the new Department Head of Music & Fine Arts. The Marching Storm continues it's past traditions of entertaining audiences all over, while incorporating new traditions. This New era, and new traditions, show that although times are changing the Marching Storm will forever reign and keep moving forward for many more years to come.
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