One important aspect of HBCU culture is Marching Bands and with the WORLD FAMED Grambling State University Marching Band preparing to perform at the upcoming State Fair Classic in Dallas in October, one East Texas HBCU has reached out to one of the people that helped put Grambling's famed band on the map with the  hopes that he can do the same for them.

Jarvis Christian University announced that former Grambling State University music department chair and director of bands Dr. Larry J. Pannell is JCU’s new interim band director for 2022-2023 academic year.


Pannell wore many hats as music department chair in his 26-years of leading the World Famed Grambling Marching Tiger Band. He hired and oversaw eight assistants who worked with the university’s concert band, symphonic band, jazz band, pep band and showband. He was a band director and music instructor in Bakersfield and in Los Angeles, California; and in Shreveport, Louisiana, before returning to his alma mater in 1992 as an assistant professor and assistant band director. Dr. Pannell has directly trained more than 5,000 student members of the band.

"Dr. Larry Pannell is a legendary, iconic band director, who brings a wealth of experience and energy,” said JCU President Dr. Lester C. Newman.

Under his leadership, the band performed for five U.S. presidents — Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W.H. Bush, George Bush and Barack Obama. The band performed at the Presidential Inauguration of the 43rd President George W. Bush and at both Presidential Inauguration parades of 44th President Barack Obama. The band also performed for former President Bill Clinton at the Grambling State University May 23, 1999 Graduation Ceremonies.

Pannell says his music career began in 1963 when he joined the 7th grade band to play the clarinet at Linear (pronounced Lin-EER) Junior High School in Shreveport, Louisiana


The band was featured in Denzel Washington’s movie, “The Great Debaters,” as well as in the 20th Century Fox movie “Drumline.” A performance honoring the music of Motown during the 1998 Super Bowl XXXII in Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California, led to a recording contract for an album featuring the band performing hits made by Motown artists. His band performed more than 300 national performances and many abroad. With his incredible wealth of knowledge, the future looks bright for the JCU Band!

LOOK: Here are the biggest HBCUs in America

More than 100 historically Black colleges and universities are designated by the U.S. Department of Education, meeting the definition of a school "established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans."

StudySoup compiled the 20 largest historically Black colleges and universities in the nation, based on 2021 data from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics. Each HBCU on this list is a four-year institution, and the schools are ranked by the total student enrollment.

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