Unstoppable, war ready and armed with musical excellence, Norfolk State University’s “Spartan Legion” continues to take no prisoners as it captivates on lookers and devastates competition. Marching to their own beat, the shear echo of the Legion’s menacing anthem, “Behold,” rattles bones as it foreshadows the looming musical apocalypse destined for opposing bands. Strutting with shining helmets, shoulders back and heads to the sky, Norfolk State’s Spartan Legion commands respect as they march through any situation.
Under the direction of William Beathea, the Spartan Legion was recently tapped by ESPN/The Undefeated as the top Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) Division 1 marching band. Drum Majors “Mr. Spartan” and “Captain Soul,” also received top honors for their unique nature and precision during performances on the gridiron. Along with additional top 10 rankings, the Legion’s percussion section, “The Million Dollar Funk Squad,” ranked number two over all behind North Carolina A&T’s “Cold Steel.”
With numbers surpassing 220 members, the Legion's success is no fluke and their musicianship has gained a variety of accolades in publications for XXL Magazine, ESPN and from music artists such as Ella Mai, Juice WRLD and others for their masterfully covered renditions of “Boo’d Up” and “Lucid Dreams.”
Most recently the Grammy nominated duo Justice featured the Marching Spartan Legion Band in their globally acclaimed, Filip Nilsson directed, music video for “Heavy Metal.” In the video for "Heavy Metal," Norfolk State University band members are center stage, highlighting intense, yet precise, moments in venues throughout the City of Norfolk and Norfolk State's beautiful 134 acre campus. For the video, band members created new choreography and were tasked with playing alongside Justice, which can be heard during certain portions of the music video.
When speaking with former band member and More Better Music artist June Elizabeth, she expressed a deep pride for her band family adding, “When you hear 'Heavy Metal' you don’t automatically think HBCU marching band, but them being featured just shows what we are capable of when given the chance.”
June, a 2016 graduate of Norfolk State, also shared how the program impacted her, stating, “Norfolk State's Band program was a pivotal corner stone in my development as a musician and student. It forced me to exceed normal and expand on excellence.”
Norfolk State and other HBCUs are leading the charge in gaining wide spread recognition and notability on the world stage. Opportunities, such as the above mentioned, serve as guarantees that HBCU students and graduates can compete with PWIs and more traditionally promoted schools. Unique chances to display and showcase top-rated programs within HBCUs not only promotes a school, but connects culturally with possible students of all demographics.
HBCUs have always had the power; it’s about damn time the world tuned into something we’ve always known: greatness!
Well done Spartan Legion! Behold the green and gold!
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