​​Marching Hornets Featured in Aretha Franklin Tribute

News Date

​​By Lois G. Russell

The Mighty Marching Hornets of Alabama State University are in the national spotlight again as part of a tribute to the late singer​ ​Aretha Franklin.

The Marching Hornets, along with bands from three other HBCUs, are featured in “All Hail the Queen: HBCU Band Tribute.”

“This really came about in an interesting way. Our band had been practicing Aretha Franklin’s song, ‘Rock Steady,’ as a tribute to her. Someone recorded us practicing and put it on YouTube. I received a call about the performance from a producer who said they would like to use it in a production. We re-recorded the performance in The ASU Stadium and submitted it to them.”

Oliver said the producer asked if any other HBCU bands might be paying tribute to Franklin.

“I checked with the director at (Alabama) A&M and a few others and found that they were doing similar tributes. So, they used all four marching bands.”

In addition to the Marching Hornets and Alabama A&M, the broadcast also features bands from the ​​University of Arkansas Pine Bluff and Kentucky State University.

The video premiered Friday afternoon on Watch the Yard and Watch the Bands, with host actor Lance Gross. View the premiere at https://youtu.be/kFHCjRpVH7s.

“HBCUs are such an important part of our history. Montgomery, Alabama is known as the birthplace of the ​c​ivil Rights ​Movement. Ms. Aretha Franklin traveled all over the country and she was a champion of ​c​ivil ​r​ights. We are truly grateful to Dr. Oliver, Alabama State University Marching Hornets and all of our bands for participating in this amazing effort highlighting GENIUS: ARETHA,” said Verona Jones, ​s​enior Director, Allied Global Marketing. “We’re asking students, alumni and fans from each university not only to view the video but also to comment, share and repost the video so that their bands gain maximum exposure.”

The tribute aired in advance of the four-part series (eight episodes), “GENIUS: ARETHA,” that will be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday, March 21.


GENIUS: ARETHA will dramatize the full complexity of Aretha’s life that only a limited series can provide, delivering a never-before-seen perspective on one of the most important cultural and influential musical icons of our time.

GENIUS: ARETHA will premiere on National Geographic, beginning on Sunday, March 21 at ​​9​ p.m.​  or 8 p.m Central. The premiere episodes will be available the next day on Hulu, culminating in a celebration of Aretha Franklin’s birthday, with all eight episodes available to stream by Thursday, March 25.

Be sure to post about GENIUS: ARETHA using #GeniusAretha @NatGeoGenius. Don’t forget to check out the critically acclaimed limited series Genius: Aretha this Sunday at ​​9​ p.m.​  or 8 p.m Central on Nation