Grambling State University

Tiger Marching Band

Band Bio

The plot began in 1926 when President R.W.E. Jones struck up an instrument deal with Sears and Roebuck. As the years passed, the script became juicier. So, here is our story: “How a once small, country band became not only the best band in the land, but also a household word...”

Yes, that was the situation in 1926, when the President Charles P. Adams asked new faculty member Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones to form a group of marching musicians. Jones, who later served as the institution's President for over 50 years, began the tough task by obtaining 17 instruments from Sears and Roebuck. With instruments in hand, the Tigers were ready to take their first giant step. 

At that time, there was no Music Department at Grambling, so sharps, flats, lines, spaces, notes and rests were mysteries to members of that initial group. But the inexperienced Tigers persisted, and soon they were performing their first "melody strained" concert.

When Conrad Hutchinson Jr. arrived here in 1952, he had a plan to make the Grambling College Marching Band the “Best Band in the Land.” It didn’t happen overnight and it certainly wasn’t easy, but "Hutch" and his staff began molding embryonic noise-makers into superb musicians and magnificent marchers. And today, his prized unit is frequently labeled, "The Band Best in the Land."

Throughout the years, the Grambling College Band, now known as the Grambling State University World-Famed Tiger Marching Band, has been seen and heard by millions of people on television and radio, as well as in stadiums and arenas throughout the world and on social media. When you say Grambling, the band is traditionally the first mention aligned with the institution. 

With many Head Band Directors at the helm, they all strived and managed to compile an extraordinary and exciting list of highlighted performances. The World-Famed Tiger Marching Band has appeared in many unparalleled performances, such as the First NFL Super Bowl, to yearly NFL and NBA venues, to a Coca-Cola Commercial, and internationally at the Presidential Inauguration in Monrovia, Liberia; The Pioneer Bowl in Tokyo Japan and both of President Barack Obama’s Inaugural parades just to mention a few. 

In June, 2019, Grambling State University announced that Dr. Nikole M. Roebuck would lead as the University’s new Chair of the Department of Music and its first woman Director of Bands. Dr. Roebuck currently serves as the first woman Director of Bands in the 93-year history of the University’s band, which was started in 1926. 

Dr. Roebuck is a 2001 Grambling State University Music Education graduate. She earned her Masters of Music from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2005, and moved on to receive her Doctorate in Music Education from the University of Memphis in 2009.

As she stepped into that role, the World-Famed Tiger Marching Band has been recognized globally in April, 2019, after performing for Beyoncé and Adidas. She undoubtedly is committed to completing the task through unwavering commitment and devotion to purpose. She will continue to lay the unshakable foundation for the current successes of our often imitated but never duplicated unit.  

Her current staff includes Mr. Michael Hendrix, Associate Band Director I; Dr. Edwin Thomas, Associate Band Director II; Assistant Band Directors Mr. Kendall Damond, Dr. Steven Cunningham, Mr. Michael Price, Mr. Chivas Ross and Mr. Ricardo Davis; and Ms. Janice M. Cowan, Coordinator of Band Activities. So, please drop by to see us one day at Grambling State University, the place “Where Everybody is Somebody!”