Chelsea Abrams, Charles Anyanwu, Kaden Barrett, and Nyla Branam
With national television and exposure, the Approaching Storm showed that it is a powerhouse ready to take over the national stage! On Friday, October 7, the marching band performed at the live taping of ESPN’s First Take, kicking off a busy weekend at HBCU Week in Orlando. DSU’s marching band, The Approaching Storm’s live performance with First Take’s TV personalities Molly Qerim and Steven A. Smith, who is the sponsor for this year’s HBCU WEEK in Orlando, Florida, was a first of its kind for the marching band.
Paul Butler, DSU Business major and marching band section leader, explained, “We did the Knicks half-time show last year, but this is not the same, this is a live TV show! Very cool.”
Danielle Mullins, DSU Mass Communications major and D’Elegance Captain, added, “This gives us the exposure that we need so that others can hear [our sound].”
Originally hosted in Wilmington, Delaware, the week-long event has completely expanded. Founded by CEO Ashley Christopher, HBCU Week successfully awards students with on-the- spot scholarships and acceptances. Blake Saunders, DSU Alum and HBCU Week host explained that recreating HBCU Week in Orlando gives the organization an opportunity to expose more students to the advantages of attending an HBCU. “This experience has been phenomenal,” he explained.
Led by Drum Major Ahmad Taylor, DSU Music major, the band performed a plethora of different songs and had the building rocking! “We’ve had this marked on our calendar since the beginning of the season”, Taylor, explained.
Andre Cunningham, an alumni of the famous Florida A & M Marching 100, was surprised at the band’s improved sound, stating “This is not the marching band I competed against years ago. You sound good!”
This improvement led to a half-time appearance at a New York Knick’s game in Madison Square Gardens in early 2022 and now to the ESPN staple, First Take.
“The staff and I have worked very hard to put together a product that represents DSU with the highest caliber of musicianship and showmanship. Our focus on sound and tone, student leadership, and recruiting has led us to today and should lead us to national and international prominence,” explained DSU Director of Bands, Sidney Sessoms, Jr.
The Approaching Storm was the only HBCU to perform during the 2-hour First Take taping. The show, conducted in front of a live audience, was a mix of its usual sports banter and information about the historical importance of HBCU’s. Even with the large crowd from Stephen A. Smith’s Alma Mater, Winston Salem State University, DSU made a lasting impression on live television. DSU alumni from across the country lit up social media channels to rave about their beloved Hornets.
Dr. Vita Pickrum, DSU’s Vice President of the Division of Institutional Advancement and President of DSU’s Foundation stated, “Their performance set the atmosphere for the taping of First Take! They showed the world that the DSU Approaching Storm marching band is truly a storm! Even after traveling 18 hours by bus to Florida and being exhausted, they performed with excellence. Every student should be proud of their contribution.”
“In my Freshman year, [appearing on First Take] wasn’t in the picture. Now that we are here, this is crazy,” added Brianna Arthur, Senior Mass Communications major.
Accompanied by the Approaching Storm, the DSU Admissions team took the show on the road and attended HBCU Week in Orlando. The college fair on October 7th has been the signature event of HBCU week, where students are introduced to HBCU’s and many earn same-day acceptance. With the support of the energetic and emphatic Approaching Storm Marching Band, the Delaware State University Admissions team helped serve the approximate 6,000+ high school students that attended the HBCU Week college fair event.
Similar to other HBCUs like Spelman College, Hampton University, and Florida Atlantic University that were also participating at the event, DSU set up shop and started interviewing students. It did not take long for several future Hornets to sign their college acceptance letters and scholarships on the spot.
Without question, with this experience the Approaching Storm has reached a new level of national recognition.