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Jackson State Marching Band Joins Drake, J. Cole On Tour

The iconic HBCU marching band has joined two hip-hop superstars.


Jackson State Marching Band

Jackson State University’s signature marching bank is touring with superstars Drake and J. Cole. The most recent leg of the It’s All a Blur Tour – Big as the What? started on February 2 in Tampa, Florida, and blared the distanced sounds and sharp showmanship of a 24-member ensemble of Sonic Boom alumni.


Drake’s road manager since 2009 and a 2007 JSU graduate and former member of the Sonic Boom, Christopher “CJ” Gibson, was a part of the idea to include a marching band thanks to the spawning of the idea from Drake himself to start a sports-themed show.


Of course, Gibson implored the band should be from an HBCU, according to Black Enterprise.


“They know I played in the marching band during my college year, so they reached out to me and asked me if I could I help put this thing together,” Gibson said to the Black Enterprise. “To me, it was important that I got an HBCU, but specifically if I had to be my alma mater, Jackson State University’s Sonic Boom of the South.”


How did this all happen? Gibson got with his cousin Maurice Gibson, who is a 2008 JSU grad and fellow snare drum player in the Boom. Together, they spoke with the current director of bands in Dr. Roderick Little, who said it was a good idea they tap Book members who recently graduated. Henceforth, the touring Boom band is comprised JSU alums from the class of 2022 and 2023.


Still, when Maurice Gibson started making calls to potential participants, there were a few who were skeptical.


Jackson State Marching Band

“They were thinking it was a scam. When they hear ‘Drake and J. Cole, all expenses paid, plus compensation,’ they are like,’ Who is this guy calling me? I don’t know him,’” Gibson said.


In totality, it’s an 18-city tour that lasts through mid-April. And for some, it’s been a great experience, once in a lifetime one.


Once serving as head drum major for the Sonic Boom’s iconic J5 and graduating with a civil engineering degree in May 2022, Nathaniel Kenner will continue his work virtually with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers all the while touring.


“There was a joy and excitement,” Kenner said. “I was also nervous at the same time, but it was all a good feeling…I wanted to make sure we represented the Boom and ourselves in the best light.”


According to Sports Illustrated, here are some notable performances by “The Sonic Boom of the South” this year: in Newark, New Jersey for the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic, for Drake and J. Cole’s “It’s All a Blur” tour thanks to the alumni, for Tabitha Brown’s birthday, and with Usher for the Super Bowl LVIII halftime show.


Photo Credit: Instagram - Sonicboom_OTS

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