Grambling State Band Makes Historic Change Entering Football Season

Grambling State Marching Band

Photo: Getty Images

For the first time in nearly 70 years, a Black woman will serve as a drum major for the Grambling State University Marching Band. Dallas native Candace Hawthorne is the first woman to hold the title of drum major since Velma Patricia Patterson did it in 1952.

“It’s extremely mind-blowing,” Hawthrone told HBCU Gameday.

“I never would have expected for me to make history like this. I am so honored.”

Hawthorne is a senior at the historically Black university studying music and technology. As she enters her senior year with this incredible opportunity, she will lean on a number of people for guidance. One person, in particular, is Grambling University Band Director Dr. Nikole Roebuck. Roebuck has been with the university for more than 20 years and she is the first woman to serve as the university's band director.

“Having Candace as the first female drum major in 70 years is another historical event for not only the World Famed [Tigers], but also the university as well. She is paving the way for [women] to come," Roebuck said about the university's newest drum major.

This season, Hawthorne will work closely with fellow drum majors, Deante Gibson and Sheavion Jones. As the season nears, the trio is eager to get out on the field and perform.

“As head drum, I know I have a lot of eyes on me,” Jone said.

“And those eyes are pushing me to encourage my fellow bandsmen to push themselves to the greatest potential, give 110% and give the people what they like—a show-stopping performance.”

Gibson, Jones, Hawthorne and their bandmates will kick off their season on September 5 as the Tigers of Grambling State University take on the Tigers of Tennessee State University in Canton, Ohio.

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