History of the Machine

 Charles E. Stewart Mr. CarsonJohnny B. Hodge Kenneth G. Ruff

At first, music was not offered as a course of study at the college, but from the very outset, music was an essential part of the ongoing activities of the college. In 1909, Mr. Charles E. Steward was brought to the college as director of music. It was he who wrote the music to the College Alma Mater. Music soon became a requirement of all departments. It consisted mostly of "choral and unison singing" and band instruction. Mr. W. E. Lew came on as Director of Music in 1916. During this time the music program grew and flourished. 

The North Carolina A&T State University band program was started in 1918 with about a 50 piece band. During then, the band was the backbone of the music department. By the 1930's, the band was offered as an extracurricular activity. During this time, A&T was the only black college in North Carolina with a band! But when the 1960’s rolled around, the administration changed and the music department was combined with other divisions besides the band. Since then the size of the band has increased to numbers as large as 210 members.


After 1946, the marching band was patterned by the University of Michigan and Ohio State band program. Mr. Carson, the band director at that time, brought in the idea of dancing during a field show performance. During the early 1950’s, A&T’s marching bands major competition was the “Rattlers” of Florida A&M. As years went by, the band went through hard times because of the lack of funds but still performed with great execution. In the mid-1960’s the band introduced the majorettes and flag girls which promoted the band to another plateau. There were several major performances in the 1970’s including the Silver Dome in Pontiac, Michigan and the Macy’s Day Parade in New York City.


The late 1970’s and early 1980’s saw a change in leadership. Mr. Jimmy Williams and Dr. Johnny B. Hodge, Jr. became the directors and the name “Blue & Gold Marching Machine” was born.  The symphonic band was also started during this time. Dr. Johnny B. Hodge, Jr. served as Director of Bands spanning 4 decades. Upon his retirement, current director Dr. Kenneth Ruff took the reigns in 2003 and fuses tradition with the Aggie legacy of excellence.

Music Program and Band Directors

1946: Barnard Lee Mason – listed under Faculty simply for music; Band Director
 
1947: Coleridge A. Braithwaite – Music
Walter F. Carlson – Band Director
 
1950: Music Department – Coleridge A. Braithwaite, Verdell L. Vinson, Walter F. Carlson Jr.
 
1951: Band Director - Walter F. Carlson; Choir Directors – C.A. Braithwaite, Howard T. Pearsall
 
1952: Music Department Chairman - Howard T. Pearsall; Symphony & College Band Director – Walter F. Carlson; Asst. Band Director – Mr. W. Penn
 
1953: Director of Choir - Howard T. Pearsall; College Band Director – Walter F. Carlson; Asst. Band Director – Mr. W. Penn
 
1954: Band Director – Walter F. Carlson; Asst. Band Directors – Mr. W. J. Penn, Miss Yvonne Porter; Choir Director – Howard Pearsall
 
1955: Band Director – W. F. Carlson; Asst. Band Directors –W.  J. Penn, T. H. Johnson; Choir Director – Howard T. Pearsall
 
1956: Band Director – Walter F. Carlson; Asst. Band Director – Richard H. Jones; Choir Director – Howard Pearsall
 
1957: Band Director – Walter F. Carlson; Asst. Band Director – Richard H. L. Jones; Choir Director, Chairman of Music Dept. – Howard T. Pearsall
 
1958: Choir Director (9 years) – Howard T. Pearsall; Band Director – Walter F. Carlson
 
1959: Choir Director – Howard T. Pearsall; Symphony & Marching Bands – Director Walter F. Carlson, Asst. Director Hosea Taylor
 
1960: Marching & Concert Bands - Director Walter F. Carlson, Asst. Director Hosea Taylor
 
1961: Music Dept. Chair and Choirs Director – Howard T. Pearsall; Marching & Concert Bands - Director Walter F. Carlson, Asst. Director Jimmie J. Williams
 
1962: Director of Bands – Walter F. Carlson; Director of Choirs – Mrs. Patricia Johnson Trice; Pearsall on study leave.
 
1964: Director of Bands – Walter F. Carlson, Jr and assistant J. J. Williams
 
1965: Music Dept. Chair and Choirs Director – Howard T. Pearsall; Director of Bands – Walter F. Carlson, Jr and assistant J. J. Williams
 
1966: Director of Bands Walter F. Carlson and asst. J. J. Williams
 
1967: Music Dept. Chair and Choirs Director – Howard T. Pearsall; Director of Bands Walter F. Carlson and asst. J. J. Williams
 
1968: Music Dept. Chair and Choirs Director – Howard T. Pearsall; Director of Bands Walter F. Carlson and asst. J. J. Williams
 
1970: Marching “Aggies” Director – both Carlson & Williams listed as a director; Concert Choir Director – Howard T. Pearsal (sic).
 
1971: Marching Aggies Director – W. F. Carlson; University Choir – Dr. Howard Pearsall
 
1973: Band Director – Mr. Walter Carlson
 
1974: Music Dept. Chair – Jimmie J. Williams; Marching Band – “Under Direction of Johnny Hodge, Walter Carlson”
 
1977: Chairman of the Department of Music – Jimmie Williams
 
1978: picture: Walter Carlson alongside Antonio Shoffner, Odell Shoffner, Thomas Peoples
 
1980: Chair of Music Dept – William McDaniel
 
1982: Acting Chair of Music Dept – Jimmy Williams
 
1983: Chairperson of Music Dept – Dr. Clifford Watkins
 
1984: Clifford Watkins – Chairperson of Music
 
1985: Symphony Band: Under the Direction of Dr. Johnny Hodge and Mr. Jimmy Williams
 
1986: “The Marching A&T”: Dr. Johnny Hodge and Mr. Jimmy Williams
 
1987: Clifford Watkins – Chairperson of Music Dept. Symphony Band: Under the Direction of Dr. Johnny Hodge and Mr. Jimmy Williams
 
1988: Clifford Watkins – Chairperson of Music Dept.
 
1989: Clifford Watkins - Chairperson of Music Dept.  Faculty: Dr. Johnny Hodge – Dept. of Music
 
1990: Faculty-Music – Mr. Walter F. Carlson, Dr. William Smiley; Dept. Chair – Clifford Watkins
 
1991: Marching Band Directors – Dr. Johnny Hodge and Mr. Jimmy Williams; Dept Chair – Dr. Clifford Watkins
 
1992: Dept. Chair – Dr. Clifford Watkins; Marching Bands Leadership – Dr. Johnny Hodge and Mr. Jimmy Williams
 
1993-1995: Dept. Chair – Dr. Clifford Watkins
2001-2003: Dr. Johnny B. Hodge - Director of Bands, Dr. John Henry - Assistant Director of Bands
2003 - 2005: Dr. Kenneth G. Ruff- Director of Bands, Dr. John Henry - Assistant Director of Bands
2005-2013: Dr. Kenneth G. Ruff- Director of Bands, Brian Milsap- Assistant Director of Bands 
2009-Present: Dr. John Henry, Music Department Chair
2014 to present: Dr. Kenneth G. Ruff- Director of Bands, Thomas G. Warner, Jr.- Assistant Director of Bands, Dr. Lamon Lawhorn-Assistant Director of Bands