GSU Spotlight: “Unc, I Want a Horn” –The World’s Newest Woman HBCU Band Director Started Her Band Career at Age 4

In honor of Grambling State University’s Band Camp, we’d like to share this “throwbuck” spotlight on how this one influential summer event changed the life of a Grambling State leader.

 image3“Every year from age 4 or 5, I attended band camp,” said Dr. Nikole Roebuck, the first woman director of Grambling State University’s World-Famed Tiger Marching Band. Dr. Roebuck is also the third woman in history to serve as Director of the Band at a historically black college and university (HBCU).

“For the first few years, they made me twirl the baton and march with the majorettes.”

“I remember this one day at camp sitting on the steps of Dunbar frustrated. I’m assuming someone had gone to find my Uncle to let him know what was going on,” Roebuck remembers. “[Her Uncle Joseph] comes outside to ask me what was wrong. My response was, ‘I don’t want to twirl the baton.’ When he asked, ‘Well what do you want you to do?’ I said, ‘Unc, I want a horn.’”

Roebuck started her band career before kindergarten thanks to her uncle, Dr. Joseph “Doc” Miller, who served as Assistant Director of Bands for Grambling State from 1980 to 1989 under Dr. Conrad Hutchinson, Jr. Hutchinson’s historic era included the first HBCU band Superbowl performance and engagements that spanned from America to Asia, and growing membership to more than 300 over the course of several seasons.

“The World Famed is more than a band to me,” says Roebuck. “I was like many of our students. It was difficult work, but the regimen and passion I put in made me a better student, a better musician, and ultimately a better teacher and leader.”

On June 1, 2019, Roebuck was appointed the University’s Chair of the Music Department and Director of Bands. Her work will directly oversee 17 team members and the more than 300 students engaged in music coursework and the school’s iconic marching band.

When asked what it means to hold this place in history, Roebuck said, “It’s honor to get to serve the band that I love and show young women, who are like I once was, that they don’t have to settle for less than excellence.”