16th Annual Honda Battle of the Bands Celebrates HBCU Culture and Marching Band Tradition


Eight of the nation’s top Historically Black College and University marching bands performed at the 16th annual Honda Battle of the Bands. (PRNewsfoto/Honda)

A crowd of 62,000 fans, students, and alumni took part in the 16th annual Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase (HBOB) on Saturday, where they enjoyed spectacular performances by eight of the nation’s top Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) marching bands and GRAMMY Award-winning R&B group 112. This year’s HBOB theme, “March On. Drawn Together,” highlighted the typical culture of HBCU with a musical extravaganza of unparalleled musicianship, pageantry, and camaraderie.

The show unfolded with a captivating musical salute to the U.S. military. All eight bands—more than 2,000 musicians and dancers in total—joined together along the field to honor all those who serve. Additional HBOB highlights included an energetic drum major tribute to the urban center of Atlanta, new music from 112’s latest album “Q Mike, Slim Daron” and a show-stopping routine by the ever-popular Alabama State University Honey Beez.

This year’s Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase participants included:

  • Alabama A&M University, Marching Maroon & White Band (Southwestern Athletic Conference) – fifth appearance
  • Alabama State University, Mighty Marching Hornets (Southwestern Athletic Conference) – sixth appearance
  • Bethune-Cookman University, Marching Wildcats (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) – 13th appearance
  • Hampton University, The Marching Force (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) – first appearance
  • Miles College, Purple Marching Machine (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) – first appearance
  • North Carolina A&T State University, Blue & Gold Marching Machine (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) – sixth appearance
  • Prairie View A&M University, Marching Storm (Southwestern Athletic Conference) – eighth appearance
  • Tennessee State University, Aristocrat of Bands (Ohio Valley Athletic Conference) – eighth appearance

The Invitational Showcase presented these marching bands with a national platform to display their talent, both live and streamed online. Each of the participating universities received grants to help support their music education programs.

Honda HBCU Power of Dreams Award Recognizes Individual Moving the HBCU Community Forward  


For the fourth year, Honda honored an exceptional individual who has positively affected the lives of others in the community. Brian “Blue” Smith was named the 2018 Honda HBCU Power of Dreams Award winner. Smith is the founder of The BlueHeart Foundation, a nonprofit organization created to help fulfill basic needs in Montgomery, Ala. From delivering food to those in need of donating toys to children, Smith keeps the Foundation going using funds from his own pocket. Smith is an Alabama State University and Mighty Marching Hornets alum, who also volunteers his time to teach music at a local high school. Honda presented Smith with a surprise grant to help him continue his mission and positive impact in the community.

“We are pleased to honor Brian Smith with this award,” said Alexandra Warnier, Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility for Honda. “His selflessness and humble approach to helping others is both inspiring and admirable. Brian truly embodies the power of dreams.”

HBCU College Fair Encourages High School Seniors to Think About College
In addition to the marching band performances at the 2018 Invitational Showcase, HBOB also included an HBCU College Fair to connect high school students with representatives from fifty-three HBCU schools. Designed to go beyond just exposing young people to the opportunities offered by HBCUs, the college fair enabled prospective college students to meet with the marching band and admissions recruiters to discuss admissions requirements and scholarship opportunities. This year’s college fair hosted over 7,000 attendees, with more than 300 scholarships awarded.

Honda has been committed to supporting the success and dreams of the nation’s HBCUs. Through initiatives like the Honda Battle of the Bands and Honda Campus, All-Star Challenge Honda has been able to touch the lives of more than 120,000 students and award $12 million in grants in support of education programs.

For more information on HBOB, visit Fans can also check out HBOB’s 16th-anniversary journey and highlights from the Invitational Showcase on the official HBOB social media channels:

Honda now gears up for Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC), a unique academic tournament for HBCU students that showcases and recognizes their academic talents. The 2018 champion will be crowned at the National Championship Tournament in April. Visit for more details.

About Honda

Honda seeks to be a company that society wants to exist, creating products and technologies that improve the lives of people while minimizing the environmental impacts of its products and business operations to ensure a sustainable future. Honda also is committed to making positive contributions to the communities where it does business, to socially responsible business practices and to the promotion of diversity in its workforce. From Honda’s involvement in STEM education and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to its support of pediatric brain tumor research and volunteer efforts by Honda associates – including environmental clean-up activities – Honda believes in giving back to the communities where its associates live and work. Learn more at

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Written by Landon Buford

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