HBCU bands

The Undefeated’s favorite 5th Quarter photos

Our behind-the-scenes look at HBCU band culture wraps up its first season with a look at the best of the best

For the past eight weeks, we’ve taken you behind the scenes of some of the best HBCU bands across the country — North Carolina A&T State University, Texas Southern University, Howard University, Alabama State University, Jackson State University, and Clark Atlanta University — as each prepared for both home games and homecomings.

The 5th Quarter in the world of football games at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) takes place after the game, when the bands of the two opposing schools battle each other for bragging rights to the best musical performance. These displays of musical showmanship, from the choreographed routines to the song selection, require a lot of practice and work by every member of the team. The Undefeated will be back next season to keep showing what goes into pulling off those amazing performances.

From left: Tuba players Daneen Whitlow-Dixson, Franklin Blankenship and section leader Cameron Franklin, and Destiny Moore on trumpet, walk off the field after the pregame show. Howard University’s Showtime Marching Band is part of a long tradition of outstanding bands at HBCUs. The band practices in the days leading up to a home game against North Carolina Central.

André Chung for The Undefeated

A bass drum with the band logo during practice on Oct. 6.

André Chung for The Undefeated

Erik Cooper spins his tuba to clear some of the saliva before the Showtime band starts marching during practice on Oct. 5.

The drumline of the Blue & Gold Marching Machine practice in anticipation of their first home game of the season at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro on Sept. 7. North Carolina A&T is the largest public HBCU in the nation and hosts an almost 100-year-old marching band started in 1918. The Blue & Gold Marching Machine is said to be the 1946 pattern for the University of Michigan and Ohio State University.

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

Drum majors Garrick Morrison (right) and Darian Eley (left) both juniors, leave the field as The Blue & Gold Marching Machine practices in anticipation of its first home game of the season at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro on Sept. 7.

Eamon Queeney for The Undefeated

Members of Texas Southern University’s Ocean of Soul drumline march through campus on the way to a performance.

Michael Starghill, Jr. for The Undefeated

Devin Cash, a drum major of Texas Southern University’s Ocean of Soul marching band, directs the band en route to a performance on campus.

Michael Starghill, Jr.

Alabama State University Mighty Marching Hornets perform as ASU’s football team takes the field for their Oct. 5 home game against Alcorn State University in Montgomery, Alabama.

Tamika Moore for The Undefeated

Alabama State University’s Mighty Hornets stretch before practice at the new ASU stadium Oct. 4 leading up to their performance the next day during a home football game against Alcorn State University.

Tamika Moore for The Undefeated

The Sonic Boom’s Drum Majors, The J-5, are led by lead drum major Abraham Duffie (left) and Tavares Stewart (right, center). An outstanding front-runner in HBCU bands, Jackson State University’s Sonic Boom of The South Marching Band prepares for a big game Saturday against close rival Southern University and A&M College.

Kaitlin Mullins for The Undefeated

Junior Prancing J-Settes member O’necia Ford stretches into a backbend during an energetic routine Friday night.

Kaitlin Mullins for The Undefeated

Marching Panthers heckle members of the Albany State University band during Clark Atlanta’s homecoming game.

Lynsey Weatherspoon for The Undefeated

Clark Atlanta University Mighty Marching Panthers drum major KD Lockhart looks intensely into the crowd after their halftime performance during homecoming Oct. 21.

Lynsey Weatherspoon for The Undefeated

Brent Lewis is the Senior Photo Editor of The Undefeated and a lover of all things Chicago except Chicago Mix popcorn. #justcheeseplease

Danielle A. Scruggs is a photo editor for The Undefeated. She is a Chicago native and firmly believes no sports team will ever be as great as the Chicago Bulls during their three-peat eras.