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About the North Carolina A&T University's

Blue and Gold Marching Machine


At first, music was not offered as a course of study at the college, but from the very outset music was an essential part of the ongoing activities of the college. In 1909, Mr. Charles E. Steward was brought to the college as director of music. It was he who wrote the music to the College Alma Mater. Music soon became a requirement of all departments. It consisted mostly of "choral and unison singing" and band instruction. Mr. W.E. Lew came on as director of music in 1916. During this time the music program grew and flourished. 

The North Carolina A&T State University band program was started in 1918 with about a 50-piece band. During then, the band was the backbone of the music department. By the 1930s, the band was offered as an extracurricular activity. During this time, A&T was the only black college in North Carolina with a band. But when the 1960s rolled around, the administration changed and the music department was combined with other divisions besides the band. Since then the size of the band has increased to numbers as large as 210 members.

After 1946, the marching band was patterned by the University of Michigan and Ohio State University band programs. Mr. Carson, the band director at that time, brought in the idea of dancing during a field show performance. During the early 1950s, A&T’s marching band’s major competition was the “Rattlers” of Florida A&M. As years went by, the band went through hard times because of the lack of funds but still performed with great execution. In the mid-1960s the band introduced the majorettes and flag girls who promoted the band to another plateau. There were several major performances in the 1970s including the Silver Dome in Pontiac, Michigan and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

The late 1970s and early 1980s saw a change in leadership. Mr. Jimmy Williams and Dr. Johnny B. Hodge Jr. became the directors and the name “Blue and Gold Marching Machine” was born. The symphonic band was also started during this time. Dr. Johnny B. Hodge Jr. served as director of bands spanning four decades. Upon his retirement, current director Dr. Kenneth Ruff took the reins in 2003 and fuses tradition with the Aggie legacy of excellence.

As one of the premier bands in the nation, the Blue and Gold Marching Machine is synonymous with high stepping performances, precise drills, powerful, yet melodic sounds, and energy! As the premier band of North Carolina and ranking high among the top HBCU Marching Bands, the Blue & Gold Marching Machine of NC A&T State University is a force to be reckoned with!


For more about NCA&T's Blue and Gold Marching Machine visit:

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