Marching to the Rhythm of Black Excellence: HBCU Band Directors Gear Up for a New Season on 6 Minutes To Glory

As the countdown begins for the highly anticipated new season of “6 Minutes To Glory: The HBCU Band Experience” on aspireTV, the spotlight turns to the unsung heroes behind the mesmerizing performances – the HBCU Band Directors. This groundbreaking series offers a front-row seat to the captivating world of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) marching bands, showcasing their unparalleled talent, dedication, and the unique experiences that define their musical journey.

In this upcoming season, viewers can expect an even more immersive exploration of the band culture, with an exclusive focus on the directors who play a pivotal role in shaping the extraordinary performances that leave audiences in awe. AspireTV spoke with the band leaders who are ready to take viewers on a rhythmic journey showcasing the passion, pride, and creativity that define each note played and each step taken. Checkout some of the inspiring responses to their questions.

Dr. Roderick Little

Dr. Roderick Little, Jackson State University Band Director

What inspired you to become a band director?

My high school band director afforded me the opportunity to work with my peers while I was a student. When I had an opportunity to interact with my peers from the podium, I felt at home. That natural feeling of belonging coupled with my love of/for music and band inspired me to be a band director.

Why is it important for shows like “6 Minutes” to exist? How does it feel being featured and what do you hope the audience takes away?

It’s important for all HBCU programs to gain national attention and exposure. PWIs are not featured on major platforms like HBCUs but yet, they tend to be funded more. It is my hope that those that watch the series will understand that our programs not only add a large entertainment aspect to events, but most importantly, it provides growth and several opportunities for students, more namely from ethnic backgrounds.

Mr. E.C. Martin

Mr. E.C. Martin, Alcorn State University Band Director

What makes your band stand out from others?

Aside from the purple and gold which is only worn by a few university bands, it is the flash and flair of it all. It is also the rich history of the university and the band program. Our band has 4 energetic drum majors, the World Renowned Golden Girls (the first college band dance line in history), the Lady Purple Flashers and the instruments. Our performances are filled with excitement and stage presence. We feed off of the energy of the fans and football team. Our students love to perform. Our band is also a family with rich heritage and pride. We take pride in what we do and we look after each-other like family.  There is no place like it in the world.

What makes the HBCU band experience so unique?

The excitement, the family environment, the camaraderie. It is more than just performing at a football game, it is the entire experience. It is the lights, camera, action of it all. It is the heavyweight match up against another band both during the game and after the game that makes it unique. It’s the tailgaters waiting on the students to leave the band hall to give them a plate. It’s an entire vibe.

Dr. Nikole Roebuck

Dr. Nikole Roebuck, Grambling State University Band Director

How would you describe traveling on the road with students?

Traveling on the road with the students is definitely something that I enjoy. It allows time outside of the band room and on campus for the students and directors to experience the game-day culture together. The memories that you make with the students will last a lifetime. We do a lot of traveling with the World Famed so when you have that freshman who is experiencing their first plane ride it encourages me as the Band Director to continue providing life-changing experiences for the students. I also work really hard to schedule a cultural experience for the students to expand their territory and support the academic experiences they have in the classroom.

What did it mean to see Beyonce’s Coachella performance honoring HBCU bands as well as featuring HBCU alum and students?

It was a life-changing experience to witness Beyonce’s Coachella performance honoring HBCU bands! This was an exciting time to be a leader in the HBCU band world and be in the presence of a world-renowned performer. As an individual band, this experience inspired us as a band to continue to strive for excellence and be an exceptional HBCU band. In the collective context, this experience of HBCU bands strengthened our awareness of being noticed and appreciated by the entertainment industry.  This was a particularly defining moment for us, an HBCU band culture.

Mr. Carlton Wright

Mr. Carlton Wright, Alabama A&M University Band Director

What influences your song selections?

We have a committee of students who come with some of the songs for our band. In particular, they pick the music for the stands and dance routines. Generally, the band staff selects music for drills, dance, and flag feature for the field shows.

Why do you believe HBCU bands are having an increase in visibility?

I think that the Black Lives Matter Movement, starting with the George Floyd murder played a huge role in the increase of HBCUs in general. With HBCU band being the greatest ambassadors to our institutions, most of the attention came to our band programs. Also, Deion Sanders success at Jackson State helped with this visibility as more HBCU games got more air time.

When starting a song, is there a certain section you pay attention to?

Our arrangers try to match our songs with the voice of the original music. For instance, if we are playing a Whitney Houston song, we try to use soprano voiced instrument to match her voice. If we’re playing a song by Barry White, the music will be written for low brass and darker voice.


AspireTV’s commitment to showcasing diverse and enriching content takes center stage Saturday February 3rd at 8PM ET with a 2 episode premiere of the newest season of “6 Minutes To Glory: The HBCU Band Experience”. Whats more, you can check out exclusive behind the scenes looks at the bands and the journeys through intimate interviews, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and riveting performances by downloading the official aspireTV app and  by following aspireTV on social media.

The upcoming season promises to bring the spirit of marching bands to the forefront of television. The real game is at half time with “6 Minutes To Glory: The HBCU Band Experience“.