For so many colleges and universities this year, “homecoming” became “stay at home.” Going into 2021, performers in Historically Black College and University (HBCU) bands also missed out on the canceled Honda Battle of the Bands.
Luckily, Black Entertainment Television (BET) and iHeartRadio showcased HBCU bands in virtual homecoming events.
BET’s HBCU Homecoming 2020: Meet Me on the Yard, which streamed live on YouTube on Oct. 24, featured hip hop and R&B stars as well as the Alabama State University, Jackson State University, and Florida A&M University marching bands.
With a similar format, the iHeartRadio HBCU Homecoming Celebration on Nov. 12 also showcased professional musical artists and marching bands from Hampton University, North Carolina A&T State University, Prairie View A&M University, and Florida A&M University.
Alabama State performed with 2 Chainz, who once attended the school, in the rapper’s 2020 song, “Moneymaker.” Dr. James Oliver, Alabama State director of bands, says that he is impressed with the result, which included choreography. “The performance was amazing,” he says.
Hampton University had a connection to iHeartRadio through Pepsi, which is both a university and iHeartRadio show sponsor. The performance involved original music as well as existing school repertoire. Pepsi and iHeartRadio also collaborated to design choreography for the bands. Dr. Thomas Jones, Hampton University director of bands, says he understands the importance of the virtual Homecoming. “[Homecoming is] not just about the football game,” he says. “It’s pretty much a family reunion.”