One of the most prestigious college bands in the world is led by a Black woman—let that sink in.
Dr. Nikole Roebuck has become a part of the elite group of woman-led band directors at a historically Black college and university (HBCU) after Grambling State University appointed her as its newest chair of the Department of Music.
According to Knoe News, the announcement, made in April 2019, made Roebuck GSU‘s first woman Director of Bands as she manages operations for the world-famous Tiger marching band and the second woman band director in the history of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
“We are excited to have one of our home-grown innovators lead during this historic time,” said President Rick Gallot.
“Dr. Roebuck is one of our most dedicated and humble leaders and a proven gift to our students, community, and all who support the world-famed sound of Grambling.”
NBC Sports reported that becoming the first woman band director was a surreal moment for Roebuck, and she wants her work to pave the way for women to fill positions that are dominated by men.
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“Because it was a male-dominated position, I knew one day it would happen; I just didn’t know when,” Roebuck said.
“I encourage women to never give up on their dreams.”
“Don’t ever let anyone discourage you because a position is typically dominated by a man. Women can do it too,” she added.
In a recent interview with Texas Metro News, Roebuck shared the techniques she has been using to keep the band on top, including assigning all band members a tutor and arranging for a nurse practitioner, trainer, and sports psychologist to travel with them.
“I want to have a positive impact on every student,” she explained.
Roebuck joins a handful of other Black women band leaders, including Tomisha Brock of Clark Atlanta University and Dr. Kerry Anne Simon of Mississippi Valley State University, appointed in 2017 and 2019.
Roebuck received her bachelor’s degree in Music Education from GSU, where she played the clarinet in the band. She received a master’s degree in Music from the University of Louisiana-Monroe and a Doctor of Philosophy in Music from the University of Memphis.
Under her leadership, BLACK ENTERPRISE previously reported that Candace Hawthorne made history in August 2021 as the first woman Drum Major in 70 years since Velma Patricia Patterson.