Florida A&M’s band hasn’t missed a beat since a nearly two year suspension.
Band Member Zachary Nealy said “It’s really unbelievable, you know what I’m saying? Being in a position where the bands gone and now the bands back.”
The band was suspended after the hazing death of 26 year old drum major Robert Champion in November 2011. Doctors say Champion was hit more than 300 times during the hazing ritual.
The incident forced the resignation of the University President and faculty members, and felony and misdemeanor charges were pressed against more than a dozen former band members.
A new band director was hired earlier this year. The band, 146 members strong, is ready for a new chapter in its storied history.
Adjunct Professor Ralph Jean-Paul said “Let the world know we’re talented musicians, talented group of students and they’re going to rise to the occasion.”
Part of the new culture includes stricter guidelines for band members. Buses left two hours later than expected because of the extensive checklist. It verifies each band member’s enrollment status and GPA.
“A few different processes, but its for accountability, so its all great. It’s going to serve a for a bigger purpose,” said Jean-Paul.
Five buses are taking the Marching 100 back to Orlando the same city they last performed in nearly two years ago.
“The band will exemplify good character and integrity on the trip, its going to be an awesome trip. We will not let our fans our university or anyone down,” said Nealy.
The band will perform for the football team’s first game on Sunday at the Citrus Bowl.
When the band was suspended in 2011 it had around 400 members.