The Digest Five – Best HBCU Marching Bands

Among the greatest ambassadors for HBCU institutions and culture are marching bands. Their precision, entertainment value and high-energy bring goodwill and acclaim to black colleges. For generations, they have served as part attraction, part fundraiser and the supreme object for HBCU bragging rights.

The history, talent, recent exposure and impact these marching bands deliver for their institutions makes them five of the top programs in today’s HBCU culture.

5. Jackson State University Sonic Boom of the South - The ‘Boom’ has performed at a multitude of NFL halftime shows, NBA All-Star Games, and for the NAACP’s signature awards event. The ‘Boom’s’ auxiliary dance line, the Prancing J-Sette’s, is among the most famous in all of black college band culture.

4. Grambling State University Tiger Marching Band -The pioneer of black college marching bands counts performances abroad, Super Bowl halftime shows, Coke commercials, presidential inaugurations and video game features in its sterling list of credentials. The Tiger Marching Band’s rivalry with the Southern Human Jukebox is the most widely-known, anticipated band battles in the country thanks to the nationally-televised Bayou Classic.

3. Bethune-Cookman University Marching Wildcats – In the last three years, the Marching Wildcats have performed at a Super Bowl pregame show, a NFL Pro Bowl halftime show, and were featured in a nationally-televised special chronicling the lead-up to the Florida Classic. Additionally, the Marching Wildcats have been featured in television commercials and on the ‘Ellen DeGeneres Show.’

2. Florida A&M University Marching 100 – The Marching 100 has been a constant at Super Bowl performances, has appeared in a Grammy performance with Kanye West and Jamie Foxx, has welcomed U.S. presidents to office in grand fashion, and claims ownership of many musical and formation standards used by countless marching bands around the nation.

1. Southern University Human Jukebox – Among the most decorated marching bands of all-time, the Jukebox has welcomed three U.S. presidents to office, has played five Super Bowls, has appeared in feature films and most notably in the Gulf region, welcomed the New Orleans Saints in front of a national audience back to the Superdome for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. When the travel budget for the Jukebox was cut in late 2010, many SWAC contests featuring Southern experienced season-low attendance figures, showing the Jukebox’s importance to HBCU culture at large.


  • Michael ‘Kennybone’ McLaughlin


  • Anonymous

    This list has no real value as it shows in it’s choices and the rankings. famu in fron of Cookman is a joke and they show be #5 at the earliest rankings. This guy must have attened fam who? sometime ago,IJS………………………………

  • Baxter Burgundy

    Hey….JSU….5?? Well I guess thats okay being that they had a sorry band director the past 2-3 years. Maybe now that Liddell is back the band can get back to being the Best in the land and not a grueling 5

    • Glenn

      Bogus !!!!!!!

  • Lawrence

    Yeah, that’s right.  Southern is number one.  FAMU second, tie between Jackson State and SCSU for third, Alabama ST and BCC fourth,   NCA&T and Morris Brown fifth.  Grambling belongs with BFI disposal.

  • Kofi Hemmingway

    Uhhhhhhhhhhh Southern IS NOT #1

    • Anonymous

      Southern is number and just like J A as Maurer said if you don’t like it make your own blog thank you!!!!

  • AJ Funny

    I think this list is compiled of the 5 most known bands….maybe not the best, but they are the 5 most known bands

  • robert williams

    It would be interesting to know what creteria was used for this list.  I would think that the writer has not seen a majority of the bands. 

  • Anonymous

    I stopped reading once I saw Grambling.  This is not a serious list. lol.

  • KD Gipson

    I stopped reading once I saw Grambling. lol. Fail! You must have graduated from GSU or one of your children are in the band now.

  • Judi

    I do not agree with this

  • Jared Brown

    This makes me want to use foul language.  The article says “today’s HBCU culture”.  Norfolk State should replace Grambling.  No question.

    • Sam Sneed

      Agree with Jared… the listing represents the opinion of the hbcu digest blogger who is trying to pass this off as gospel truth.  This listing is seriously flawed and lacks merit.  

      Having said that, FAMU should replace Southern as the #1 band.

      • J Asa Maurer

        LOL , stop HATING! Thats the way the writer sees it,or hears it… You want NSU on the list or Flambu as # 1, go start your own blog……