Members of Florida A&M University’s (FAMU) Marching “100” performed at the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Bandfest and outside of First A.M.E. (FAME) Church of Los Angeles on Sunday, prior to their scheduled January 1 performance in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade.
The event at FAME was one of seven public appearances scheduled prior to the Rose Parade. The band’s trip to Los Angeles was supported by Los Angeles-based philanthropists and FAMU alumni Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, who were among hundreds of worshippers and neighbors watching the parade march toward Murray Circle, which is named for FAMU alumnus and FAME Pastor Emeritus Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray.
Murray graduated in 1951 and reflected on his time spent in Tallahassee after listening to the band sing and play a variety of familiar songs, such as “Total Praise” and “Do Whatcha Wanna.”
“Even then the marching band was huge. It was the Marching ‘100’,” said Murray. “They not only played well, but they demonstrated well, and they were marching well. That started the movement in major universities throughout our nation.”
Inside the church, FAME’s Senior Pastor “J” Edgar Boyd presented FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., and FAMU Director of Bands Shelby Chipman, Ph.D., drum majors and band directors and staff with a citation from the Los Angeles City Council members and FAME.
Murray added, “They are a blessing because the Atlantic joins the Pacific. They have quite a few grads of Florida A&M here in California. They are not strangers. It is a real joy that they would allow us to be the host as one of the great bands of the nation.”
The band left the church and headed to another performance at Bandfest at Pasadena City College’s Robinson Stadium. Twenty bands performing in Tuesday’s parade gave the crowd a sneak peek of their unique sounds and dance moves.
“Being in Pasadena is a true blessing,” said FAMU drum major Marquel Bowen of Miami.
Bowen added, “Just being able to be ambassadors for FAMU, serving in a drum major capacity for the Marching “100” is something that many people are not privileged to be able to be a part of. Few are chosen. Only 20 schools were chosen. To be able to represent the University in this light is amazing.”
The Pasadena Tournament of Roses first African-American President Gerald Freeny greeted President Robinson and Chipman after the band marched off the field and received a standing ovation.
“They bring such enthusiasm and so much excitement,” said Freeny. “This year’s theme, the “Melody of Life,” talks about music. We know music is the universal language. The way they performed today, you just turned somebody’s day from bad to good. The music was outstanding, and Dr. Chipman has been outstanding.”
The Rose Parade is scheduled to begin on New Year’s Day at 8 a.m. PST/11 a.m. EST. Watch the coverage early. FAMU’s band position in the parade is 20, behind Freeny’s float.
FAMU alumni have traveled to Los Angeles from cities such as Miami, Tallahassee, Atlanta and throughout the nation to witness history in the making.
“I’m very proud to see the Rattlers out here and see the phenomena – that other people have to witness them (band members) for the first time,” said Robinson. “It’s really inspirational to think that these 200-plus students can make so much of a difference in the lives of so many people.”
During a Saturday evening reception hosted by the Southern California Chapter of FAMU’s National Alumni Association, President Robinson and Chipman thanked area alumni for their support and financial contributions.
“We hope to leave an everlasting impression on everyone who will witness the energetic and innovative Marching ‘100’,” said Chipman.
FAME Church Photo Caption
First A.M.E. Church Senior Minister “J” Edgar Boyd, his wife, Florence Boyd; FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D. and his wife, Sharon Robinson; FAMU alumni and L.A. philanthropists, Bernard and Shirley Kinsey; and FAMU Director of Bands Shelby Chipman, Ph.D.