History of the Marching Rams
Records have determined the existence of an instrumental music program at Slater Industrial Academy (now Winston-Salem State University) as early as 1933. The ensemble was known as the Slater Industrial Academy Orchestra.
In 1925, Slater Industrial Academy became known as Winston-Salem Teachers College. The first tangible efforts in the direction of starting a band came between the years of 1937-1941. During this four year period, a group of young college students organized a musical group and named themselves the Teachers College Collegians. The Teachers College Collegians performed and played primarily dance music.
The Auditorium was formerly located in the pit area in front of Diggs Gallery. It was also home to music offices and classrooms during that time.
Between 1943 and 1944, in an effort to stimulate growth and development with the band, the Winston-Salem Teachers College National Association created the “Band Project,” a fund raiser for the band program. The Association raised $1,507.25 to purchase eighteen (18) instruments for the band program. During that time the band played at chapel services each week.
The college’s first band was organized in 1945 under the direction of music instructor Hamlet Goore. Mr Goore served as band director until 1950. During the five year period, 1945 to 1950 the organization made tremendous progress.
Teachers College Homecoming Parade
During the 50’s and early 60’s, not much information exists concerning the Winston-Salem State Teachers College Band. We do know that in 1966 or 1967, the band was under the direction of Mr. Harry Pickard.
In 1969 the band was under the baton of Dr. Fred Tanner. At the end of the ’69-’70 football season, the band was presented a plague for being the “Biggest Sound in the CIAA.” Many notable achievements occurred during the early and late ‘70’s which include:
- Half-time performance for the Baltimore Colts – 1971
- Afro- American Day Parade –New York City, 1974
- Performance for the arrival of President Jimmy Carter, 1976
- RJR Rodeo Parade
- Parade for the new Masonic Lodge, Winston-Salem
In 1972, Winston-Salem State College became known and Winston-Salem State University. The notoriety of the band program excelled during Dr. Tanner’s career and the WSSU band became nationally recognized as one of the best instrumental ensembles in the country.
The program changed hands several times after Dr. Tanner relinquished the position. The most notable change occurred in 1994 when Mr. Emory Jones became the band master. Mr. Jones is a 1971 graduate of WSSU and he devoted ten untiring years to the WSSU band program. In his honor, The Emory Jones Endowed Scholarship in Music has been established.
The Winston-Salem State University Band is now under the direction of Dr. Michael Magruder. His no-non sense approach to band and sound philosophy of band has transformed the entire instrumental band program at WSSU. According to Mr. John R. Posey of Urban Sports News, “I am writing a major feature on the top HBCU bands that I and my staff saw this fall. It will run in my publication, but may be picked up by several other media outlets. I have included you on the list...”
Within three years the band program is moving forward. A quality sound along with a comprehensive musical philosophy, the WSSU band will continue to grow and develop. The change has been significant, however we know….”THE BEST IS YET TO COME.”