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Howard University band prepares for presidential inauguration performance

The Showtime Marching Band will escort Vice President-elect and Howard alum Kamala Harris to the White House Wednesday.

WASHINGTON — Howard University’s Showtime Marching Band will play a prominent role during Wednesday’s inauguration festivities.

The band will escort Howard University alum Kamala Harris from 15th Street Northwest to the White House after she is sworn in as the vice president of the United States.

The band’s drumline will be joined by Howard University’s Flashy Flag Squad and Ooh La La Dancers.

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Flashy Flag Squad Captain Essence Blake, a Howard University senior, said she cannot wait to perform.

“I am extremely excited,” she said. “This is an honor and a privilege to be able to escort Kamala Harris.”

Howard University’s band also performed during President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. However, this year, the band will have to adjust to some changes.

According to the university, the band will only be about a third of its size as a precaution to ward off the spread of coronavirus. Blake said bandmates have been given N-95 masks to wear underneath their uniform masks.

“We're feeling safe and good,” she said. “All the bandsmen have taken COVID tests to make sure that they're okay.”

The band will perform a special drum cadence during the inauguration.

Blake said she has already been getting calls from family and friends about the university’s upcoming performance.

“Twenty or 30 years later, I can tell my nieces and nephews and my children and grandkids like, ‘Hey, you know, I was marching on the inaugural escort for Kamala Harris.'" 

Howard University Band Director Kelvin Washington spent Monday preparing the band for its upcoming performance. This will be the third inauguration he has performed in. Washington said Howard’s band is ready for the event.

“I can honestly say I have learned how to maneuver through the situation to make everything happen,” he said.

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Howard University President Wayne Frederick said he is also excited to see the university’s band perform Wednesday.

“It is perfectly fitting that the Showtime Marching Band, the ensemble that captures and reverberates the heartbeat of our institution, should accompany [Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris] on this last leg of her journey to the White House,” he said.

President-elect Joe Biden's alma mater will also be featured in the ceremony. The University of Delaware Drumline will escort Biden to the White House. 

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