Honda Battle of the Bands celebrates HBCU marching bands

A crowd of 62,000 fans, students and alumni took part in the 16th annual Honda Battle of the Bands Invitational Showcase (HBOB) on Saturday, where they performances by eight of the nation's top Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) marching bands and GRAMMY Award-winning R&B group 112.

Participating bands in the 16th Annual Honda Battle of the Bands

Alabama A&M University, Marching Maroon & White Band

Alabama State University, Mighty Marching Hornets

Miles College, Purple Marching Machine

North Carolina A&T State University, Blue & Gold Marching Machine

Prairie View A&M University, Marching Storm

Tennessee State University, Aristocrat of Bands

This year's HBOB theme, "March On. Dream Together," highlighted the distinctive culture of HBCU with a musical extravaganza of unparalleled musicianship, pageantry and camaraderie.

The show opened with a musical salute to the U.S. military. All eight bands—more than 2,000 musicians and dancers in total—joined together on the field to honor all those who serve. Additional HBOB highlights included a drum major tribute to the city of Atlanta, new music from 112's latest album "Q Mike Slim Daron" and a show-stopping routine by the ever-popular Alabama State University Honey Beez.

For the fourth year, Honda honored an individual who has positively affected the lives of others in the community. Brian "Blue" Smith was named the 2018 Honda HBCU Power of Dreams Award winner. Smith is the founder of The BlueHeart Foundation, a nonprofit organization created to help fulfill basic needs in Montgomery, Ala. From delivering food to those in need to donating toys to children, Smith keeps the Foundation going using funds from his own pocket. Smith is an Alabama State University and Mighty Marching Hornets alum, who also volunteers his time to teach music at a local high school. Honda presented Smith with a surprise grant to help him continue his mission and positive impact in the community.

"We are pleased to honor Brian Smith with this award," said Alexandra Warnier, Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility for Honda. "His selflessness and humble approach to helping others is both inspiring and admirable. Brian truly embodies the power of dreams."

In addition to the marching band performances at the 2018 Invitational Showcase, HBOB also included an HBCU College Fair to connect high school students with representatives from fifty-three HBCU schools. The college fair enabled prospective college students to meet with marching band and admissions recruiters to discuss admissions requirements and scholarship opportunities. This year's college fair hosted over 7,000 attendees, with more than 300 scholarships awarded.