Southern University

September 5, 2010 by staff 

Southern University, When the driver in the movie Drumline Stern told members of the band “ halftime is game time,”which was only partly fiction.

The film was a loose tribute to Dr. William P. Foster, the man who changed the world of university marching bands; when he introduced the dance and pop music to Florida A & M University march “ 100.”

Foster died August 28 at age 91.

Now, generations of residents of South Florida – those who have gone and played and in some cases in Foster steps as directors of university high school band – are sharing precious memories of Foster and the many ways that helped shape their lives and careers.

When FAMU, one of the most prestigious universities in the nation’s historically black, descended on South Florida Thursday night for their annual football game with the University of Miami, UM officials knew they could expect a full house in Sun Life Stadium.

The crowd, indeed, turn to watch the game traditionally boasted unequal UM Hurricanes and Snakes FAMU. But just as many loyal fans Foster’s Marching 100 was submitted for half-time performance, which is dedicated to its late leader.

“ This band draws crowds as big concert crowds,”said Dr. Emmett Price, professor of music and director of the Department of African American Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

“ We know in which direction to go play, but it’s true, over the years, Dr. Foster up 100 school programs keep their sports life.”

But for all the hype about Foster’s musical accomplishments, fame was never intended, Price.

“ Ironically, it was only a matter of conduct for him,”said Price, author of several books on urban music. “ It was about cultural pride and demonstrating to students that what they learned of the music could become an integral part of daily life.”

Promoting bands reinvented in 1946 when he decided to go against the tradition of militarism and religious groups of six to twelve members of the band marching in rigid formation of hymns and battle standard.

He favors a carpet-Alarcón, swing-Steppin ‘power that moved like a funeral procession in New Orleans with the jazz music of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker men, rockers Chuck Berry, Little Richard and the like.

What followed was a domino effect of the university and commercial bands liven up his songs, adding Foster-style pep to your step.

Foster retired in 1998 after 52 years as band director.

Jazz musician Branford Marsalis met Foster once, back in the day on which Marsalis was a member of the marching band at Southern University. He carefully studied the technique of Foster.

“ I’ll never forget that day falls in 1978,”said Marsalis, who teaches music at the University of North Carolina Central. “ Southern band had been cut up and diced all, doing a show fierce. But then we went to FAMU and tested . . ..”

Marsalis was fascinated by the band’s deliberate, methodical preparation. When they hit the ground, he was amazed.

“ As football was more than a game, this was more than music,”he said.

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