Oliver prepares for ‘Battle of the Bands’


Mighty Marching Hornets Band Director James Oliver directs the band as they play a familiar musical number during Homecoming 2022. Oliver has served as the band director for 23 years.

Phyllis Turnipseed, Staff Reporter/Writer

For the first time in history, the Honda Battle of the Bands will take place at Alabama State University, and Mighty Marching Hornet Band Director James Oliver is excited to be a part of the occasion.
For over 30 years, Honda has supported the success and dreams of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) students through initiatives including the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge and Honda Battle of the Bands. These programs provide unforgettable experiences and opportunities for HBCU students, including meeting and networking with peers from other HBCU schools. Honda has impacted the lives of more than 200,000 students and awarded over $14 million in grants in support of HBCU education programs and facilities improvements.
According to Oliver, now that the event will be hosted on the campus, “it is important to dot all of the “i’s” and cross all of the “t’s.”
“It puts the pressure on us to do everything right and to have everything on point from the music, marching and sportsmanship,” he said. “First of all we are starting to rise the music. My staff and I have come together and wrote everything down on my pad. We got to start with the music we are going to play. It is kind of like a stretch of what you going to do and how we are going to do it. Then you add the music because you only have 10 minutes on the field for the halftime show which is enough time for us to do what we have to do”.
Because the Mighty Marching Hornets have participated in some battles recently, Oliver feels the preparation is easier.
“We were in the HBCU All-Star Battle of the Bands last week so it really has not taken a lot to prepare for the Honda Battle of the Bands,” he said. “As soon as we found out that the event would be held at Alabama State University (ASU) in October of last year, we started putting songs together then.”
The 21-year band director believes that the Marching Hornets are up to the challenge and fans can anticipate a great show.
“ASU can expect a great halftime production from us. It is what we do when they see us at the football games on Saturdays,” he said. “ASU can expect my Stingettes to come out and dance and put their heart and soul into the energy, and the band to come out and do their thing, and then, of course, last but not least, they can expect my Honeybeez to come out and do their thing.”
Oliver said, “The Battle of the Bands is a collaboration of all of us”.
“I am ready for the Battle of the Bands. I always tell my students we are always prepared. We do not seat second to anything or anybody. I do not care if we go to another university, we feel like it is ours and we are going to go in there and put on a show.”
He continued.
“Some bands might have a bigger number because some of our students could not return due to financial obligations, but we have a good number of students and we are going to go out and do our thing and I’m sure students have seen the videos so they are going to come prepared for us.”
Members of the Marching Hornets have been practicing during the evening hours to prepare for this event.
One of those students is Charles McCauley. He is a first-year student majoring in computer science, said there is a greater sense of pressure.
“Preparing for Honda’s Battle of the Band has been a hard but fun process,” he said. “There’s more pressure on this event than normal because it’s on home turf and we as the band refuse to get disrespected on our own ground. And with that comes the fun I’m challenging ourselves to push ourselves to the max. And perform to the best of our abilities.”