Tennessee State University's Band Submits Their Gospel Album To The Grammys

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Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands (AOB) is on its way to another HBCU breakthrough.  With an unwavering desire to reach new levels,  they have submitted their album, ‘Urban Hymnal‘, to the Grammys for nomination.

The band recently took to social media to make known that they have officially hit the submit button in hopes to win the award for Best Gospel Roots Album.

It was such a moving moment for everyone involved, that they documented the submission process and posted it on Instagram.

If the Aristocrat of Bands is successful, they would go down in history as the first collegiate band to win the Grammy award for an entire album.

Assistant director of bands and professor at TSU, Larry Jenkins told WMSV4 that the idea came about from a dinner with contemporary artist, Sir The Baptist, who has also been previously nominated for a Grammy. Jenkins is a former band member of the school as well.

“We were writing it out on a napkin, and he just wrote out the whole plan,” Jenkins shared. “This album is like pulling the excitement out of the entire community because it’s so pivotal and monumental. It’s something again, that hasn’t been done before,” he added.

This isn’t the first pathbreaking experience for AOB.  Back in 1955, they were the first HBCU band to perform on national television for the NFL halftime show where the Rams played against the Bears.

Additionally, they were the first HBCU band to perform at John F. Kennedy’s Presidential Inauguration in 1961, the first to be named the official band for the Tennessee Titans, in 2022 by the NFL, along with several other first-time accomplishments.

The Urban Hymnal was released on September 23, 2022, and is comprised of 10 tracks containing organic sounds. The album was entirely recorded on the TSU campus, which would make this win even more special.

The album has various special appearances from pioneers in gospel music, such as Jekalyn Carr, Fred Hammond, John P. See, Kierra Sheard, Sir the Baptist, Professor Jenkins, Mali Music, and several others.

The band recently nailed their performance at the 2022 Essense Festival in New Orleans, and since then, it’s been all eyes on them from the gospel community.


This body of work is executively produced by Grammy award-winning songwriter/artist Dallas Austin, AOB’s assistant director, professor Larry Jenkins, two-time Grammy award-nominated songwriter/artist, Sir the Baptist, along with TSU alum, Dubba-AA.

Dr. Reginald McDonald, Aristocrat of Bands Director, told the Tennessee Tribune, “This will be the first [album] from us, it won’t be our last.” He also expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to transition students “from dreams to reality.”

The Grammy nominees will be announced this coming November, and the ceremony takes place on February 5, 2023.  We are rooting for TSU!