Welcome to a new academic year at Fisk University!  We are excited to introduce the inaugural Fisk University Marching Bulldog Band, under the direction of Professor Thomas L. Spann Jr.


Although our traditional way of thinking about a marching band has been impacted by Covid-19, we have re-imagined our inaugural season, and have an innovative program to offer. We especially want to highlight our Freshmen Marching Bulldogs. None of our freshman scholars are native to Nashville, and their willingness to move to a new city to start their collegiate careers, while also participating in a new marching band, is courageous! Their commitment to being trailblazers is unmatched and we are looking forward to seeing how their contributions will serve as an asset to the University and carry us into the next 154 years!

Professor Spann interviewed two Marching Bulldogs from the Freshman Class; Erin Allen and Ché Patterson about what has inspired them to come to Fisk and pursue opportunities in the band.

Professor Spann: What city are you from?

Erin Allen: Oklahoma City, OK

Ché Patterson: I’m from Covington, Georgia, where I attended Newton High School.

Spann: What inspires you to play music at Fisk University?

Allen: I love the fact that Fisk University Marching Band is a new and growing program, it reminds me of home! I am familiar with being in a growing band program from my time in my high school marching band. We were also in the early stages of growing a band program which allowed me to learn a lot and bring my knowledge and experiences to Fisk’s new program.

Patterson: What inspires me to play is not too different from what inspires me to listen. When I listen to music, I’m able to hear artists communicate exactly how I’m feeling which helps me I know that I’m not alone. That feeling of connection between two artists is unlike any other. I get so inspired by hearing these artists’ stories through their music. I play because I have my own story to tell that can inspire people. It’s therapeutic for me, and it can be just what somebody else needs to hear.

Spann: How did you start playing music, and get involved in a marching band?

Allen: I started music and band in the 5th grade, I was playing percussion at first, and then transitioned to alto sax in the 6th grade. I then became section leader and first chair in saxophone during middle school. I went on to high school and became a Drum Major during my freshman year!

Spann: Who were your musical influences back home?

Allen: My Dad played saxophone at the same high school I attended, and several other of my family members also played in the band during high school. Being a part of marching band and playing music for my family was an important thing for us back home.

Spann: What are your past experiences as a leader in marching band?

Allen: At my high school I had the chance to conduct and teach band under my band teachers, as a student-teacher which gave me a lot of great leadership experience.

Spann: What is your major and what are your career aspirations?

Allen: I am majoring in Biology and I want to go into the medical field, specializing in pediatrics.

Spann:  Why did you choose Fisk?

Allen: I looked at different colleges and chose Fisk because of their scholarship offer. Seeing Fisk University reminds me of my high school and community back home, as it’s like a close-knit family! I saw a flyer for the Fisk University Marching Band Auditions and recruitment, which encouraged me to audition and join the marching band program!

Patterson: I chose Fisk because I wanted the HBCU experience to connect with my roots and culture. Fisk offers that with its rich history that it keeps alive. Another reason is that Fisk is located in Nashville, “The Music City”. I have so much opportunity around me. I really love this city and I’m excited to see what I accomplish here.

We are excited to welcome our freshmen band scholars to Fisk University, and to Music City! The Fisk University Bulldog Marching Band will continue to cultivate these scholars’ aspirations to carry on the legacy of timeless music. Fisk University family, let us welcome and encourage our band scholars to continue to be trailblazers and press forward musically.

Our Freshman Band Scholars are listed below:

Erin Allen: Oklahoma City, Ok

Ardria McDonald: Huntsville, AL

Ché Patterson: Covington, GA

Mallory Franks: Birmingham, AL

Lauren Swasey: Stone Mountain, GA

We leave you with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson,

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”