Texas Southern's "Ocean of Soul" to perform in Super Bowl Halftime Show

January 26, 2004

Texas Southern University?s Ocean of Soul has won a chance of a lifetime ? a halftime performance with Janet Jackson at Super Bowl XXXVIII ? and has its sights set on turning Reliant Stadium into a rocking, rhythmic realm of excitement come February 1. The band won?t be alone, through; Ocean of Soul is collaborating with the University of Houston?s Spirit of Houston Cougar Marching Band. A total of 360 students from TSU and UH will take to the field.

?The the popularity of movies like ?Drumline?, and the spotlight on college bands ? especially black marching bands ? this just makes sense,? said LaChanda Jenkins, director of communications at Texas Southern.

Since early December 2003, this plan has been in the works, with e-mails and telephone calls bounding from time zone to time zone. Richare Lee, Ocean of Soul director, has been in touch with MTV, the network producing the halftime show. Salli Frattini, a senior vice president of MTV, and other network executives, visited TSU?s campus in December to audition Lee?s band. A camera crew was in tow and captured footage of the entire audition in order to produce a ?Making of the Half-Time show? program to air on MTV in February after the big game.

According to Lee, Ocean of Soul had a number of prepared pieces to show off for the audition. The drumline performed a litany of funk routines and the entire band performed several songs, including TSU?s fight song, ?Crazy Love? by Beyonce? and ?I Like the Way you Move? by the rap duo Oukast.

?The MTV reps were excited when Ocean of Soul began auditioning,? said Jenkins, who was present at the performance. ?I think they were impressed with our moves, with our sound ... just with our downright soul.? Weeks later, MTV decided that both TSU and UH should be featured during the Super Bowl. The producers were eager to capture the unique styles and sounds of both bands.

Though the two universities are only blocks apart, the bands have never performed together. Friday, January 23 marked the day when the two bands met for the first time. The meet-and-greet mixer, held at TSU?s Wellness and Recreation Center allowed the band members to form camaraderie conversing, playing music and feasting on barbeque. Prior to the mixer, only the two drumlines had met. The 60 students who comprise the drum units had already completed two recording sessions.

Rehearsals will continue throughout the week with a full run through on Thursday, January 29 at Reliant Stadium. Band directors Lee and David Bertman of the University of Houston have partnered in every aspect of the routine, going so far as to fly to Los Angeles to meet and discuss ideas with Janet Jackson. Moreover UH?s Kevin Erickson and TSU graduate student Brian Pierre collaborated on the music for the drum feature. TSU?s percussion section designed dance movements for the drum performance.

?We are very excited to get this opportunity,? Lee said. ?I?m sure we?ll work well with them (University of Houston). We have different sounds and styles but there?s no doubt we?ll work well together. This is fantastic not only for our band members, but also for Texas Southern University.?