26 August 2023: Calvin Murphy Marching Thunder Drumline (Credit: Jimmie Aggison/ Houston Defender) Credit: Jimmie Aggison

The National Battle of the Bands hosted an event on the yard at Texas Southern University which invited fraternities and sororities, community members, and other organizations to participate in a battle to support their favorite band performing the next day.

Jason Morgan, band director of Frederick A. Douglas High School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was on hand with his group.

“I like to expose the band to other cultures and bigger cities,” said Morgan. “Houston, Texas has a big culture with HBCU bands and Texas Southern, Ocean of Soul, is one of their favorite bands. For the kids to be able to see the band while on their campus, this gives them the opportunity to think about where they would like to go for college while getting them outside of Oklahoma City.”

Anthony Henry, a senior at Frederick A. Douglas High School, is considering attending TSU or Langston University after graduating to study photography.

“I’ve been in the band program for three years. After seeing the Battle of the Bands for the first time, I was immediately hooked. I love seeing the energy and Black culture,” said Henry.

For Henry it’s more than just a band, it’s a family.

“Being in the band gets me through a lot of personal stuff that I have going on at home. This is a family and I love them to death, they mean a lot to me,” said Henry.

Also performing was the Calvin Murphy Marching Thunder Drumline.

“We have approximately 80 members, from drummers, dancers, twirlers and color guard,” said head instructor Kevin Lee.

The Drumline is all drums with no brass instruments but involves both boys and girls.

“We teach the young men and women how to showcase their talents and use them for higher education. We currently have students who have come through the program marching at Texas Southern, Prairie View, Tennessee State, and various other colleges,” said Lee.

Bryce Jackson, a junior at Randall High School in Lamar CISD, serves as section leader and has been with the program for nine years.

“The group is very important to me. I’ve learned a lot,” said Jackson. “I have anxiety and sometimes drumming helps me cope with it. Sometimes when I’m overwhelmed, I play the drums and it makes me feel better.”

Jackson plans to attend either Prairie View A&M University or Texas Southern University where he will study business.

I’m originally from Kansas. I graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in communication studies. Shortly after moving to Houston in 2007, I began doing photography. I covered cy fair sports...