Skip to main content

KNOXVILLE — When first established, the Pride of the Southland Marching Band was a small, all-male corps of cadets attached to the Military Department at the University of Tennessee. That was 140 years ago. Today, the now-coed band at UT Knoxville boasts 250 members and is one of the most prestigious college bands in the country. To celebrate its history and various milestones throughout the decades, the Pride is hosting a special anniversary celebration as part of Homecoming 2009.

Open to the public, the festivities kick off at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, at the Knoxville Marriott, 500 Hill Ave. Tickets are $25 for students (those 25 years and under) and $45 per person.

A reception with cash bar begins at 5:30 pm followed by dinner and celebration. The entertainment will include WBIR news anchor Bill Williams as emcee, special guests Bobby Osborne — original “Rocky Top” recording artist — and the Rocky Top X-press, and the Pride of the Southland Band.

There also will be silent and live auctions with chances to win items such as framed photography of the band or the opportunity to direct “Rocky Top” at a football game or spend game day with the band.

In addition to making “Rocky Top” famous, The Pride of the Southland Marching Band also is known for inventing the circle drill and starting traditions such as “Salute to the Hill” and the “T.” The Pride is also the only college band to participate in 12 consecutive Presidential Inaugural Parades.

Band members past and present agree that their experiences in the band at UT have shaped them not merely as musicians but also as people.

“Successful work is hard work,” said Jeremy Lumpkin (’08), a former saxophone player. “Hard work requires time. But the time is very well spent. The result of our hard work in the band is consistency and precision, and you can transfer those skills into a lot of other fields.”

President of the Band Alumni Board Bill Burkhart (’77) looks at his membership as a way to stay engaged in the university.

“As an adult, the band has given me and other alumni the opportunity to give back to the university,” he said. “The band is fun. What better way to spend one’s time than being part of something life changing for all involved and glorious at the same time? The Pride is not so much about game day as it is about character development, and that I value.”

The 140th anniversary celebration is presented by the Band Alumni Board. Among other activities, the Alumni band performs with the current Pride each year for Homecoming, including participation in the pregame walk to the stadium and “Salute to the Hill,” as well as the Homecoming halftime show. Members of the Alumni band also comprise pep bands for basketball games scheduled during the university’s winter break.

Reservations for the event can be made at or by contacting the UT Alumni Office at 974-3011 or

C O N T A C T :

Kristi Hintz, (865-974-3993,