Passionate. Disciplined. Dedicated. Alumni band director Stephen Edgerton used those words, among others, to describe his overall experience with the N.C Central University Sound Machine marching band, which celebrated their eightieth anniversary this year.
The Sound Machine celebrated their 80th Anniversary this homecoming by inviting alumni’s far and wide to join this class of gifted musicians on the field. Band director, Dr. Thurman Hollis proposed to have an ideal image of showing the layers of generations within the Eagle family.
The Sound Machine started their classic instrumental covers back in the 1930s with Dr. Stephen Junius Wright assistant professor in education. Dr. Junius was announced the original organizer. There have been many accomplishments during the reign of the fifth band director, Dr. Richard Jones.
Terry Sanford, a previous Governor of North Carolina inauguration was in 1960, the band was requested to perform at this special event. The next year they performed in front of 55,000 fans at the Yankee Stadium during halftime of the New York Giants versus the Dallas Cowboys. During his reign the marching band was given nationwide recognition and the band’s sound amplified with more members.
In 2015, a Georgia State alumnus, Thurman Hollis became the new head of Sound Machine. Hollis has demonstrated what true harmonically-rich marching band is supposed to sound. This year’s homecoming, he planned to travel back in time through the HBCU music culture.
When asked about why bringing multiple generations on the field this year was important, he said: “Earlier generations have set the precedent for the next. The band is one of the hearts on campus. We have been working on this project for months.”
Hollis was in search for an Alumni Band Director that could bring in more ideas for music pieces and electrifying sounds. Edgerton, a music alumni and former drum major was selected as the 2018 Alumni Band Director.
Edgerton was welcomed to NCCU in 1994 and had the privilege to witness the rule of the first female band director in the CIAA, Robyn Reaves. He claims this is not the first project to bring different generations to march for the Sound Machine. “This year is pretty significant because this is the largest group of alumni’s the Sound Machine has collaborated with and it’s the 80th Anniversary,” said Edgerton.
The band’s sound is both passionate and hypnotic as the music selection travels you back in time: to the 1980s with “Candy” recorded by Cameo and “Poison” by Bell Biv DeVoe, 1990s with “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan and “Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill, and transitioning into the last two decades with “Buy You A Drink” by T-Pain, “Whistle While You Twurk” by Ying Yang Twins and much more.
Class of 2017 alumni, Xavier Tomas Daughtry graduated with a B.A. in Music. He was drawn back to play with the Sound Machine this homecoming and experience the growth and shift in direction the band took this year.
When asked how the Sound Machine impacted his journey on campus, he said: “Being a part of the Sound Machine opened my eyes to a different way of discipline and how our culture oversees a band. This program provided me different tools to be equipped when I decide to teach music myself. From the music selection to the style of marching.”
University marching bands are the heart, soul and life in the football stadiums. The Sound Machine has been a huge representation just those three things and continues on the path of growing success.