PINE BLUFF, AR – The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) Marching Band (M4; Marching Musical Machine of the Mid-South), was awarded the $5,000 grand prize for their performance of one of Aretha Franklin’s greatest hits, “Freeway of Love.”

“I consider this award to reflect the hard work of our students and talented staff that have brought this to fruition,” said John Graham, Band Director for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. “We are honored to celebrate the life and legacy of Aretha Franklin. She inspired people to respect and love one another.”

Marking Aretha Franklin’s birthday, National Geographic’s GENIUS: ARETHA and Watch The Bands, an online platform that focuses on preserving and promoting the marching band and dance culture of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) which is owned by Watch The Yard, announced that UAPB’s Marching Band had been named the winner of ‘All Hail The Queen: HBCU Band Tribute.’

The announcement also comes on the heels of all eight episodes GENIUS: ARETHA now being available on Hulu on March 25.

The Marching Musical Machine of the Mid-South (M4) is under the direction of Mr. John Graham and Assistant Directors, Mr. Darryl Evans and Mr. Harold Fooster. M4 performs all home football games and travels to almost all games away from campus. The marching band has made appearances at the Gateway Classic, Professional football games, national television, and countless “Battle of the Bands” competition. Each year M4 hosts it “Band Day”, where several high school bands from throughout the country get the opportunity to attend a Golden Lion football game, play as a mass band, and perform their half-time shows for each other. The Marching Musical Machine of the Mid-South performed in the 2008 inaugural parade of President Barack Obama.

For more information about how you can be part of UAPB’s M4, click here.

Watch the ‘All Hall the Queen: HBCU Band Tribute’ video below.


About the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is a public comprehensive HBCU 1890 Land-Grant Institution. The University embraces its land-grant mission of providing cutting edge research, teaching, outreach, and service programs that respond to the social and economic needs of the state and region. Its mission is to promote and sustain excellent academic programs that integrate quality instruction, research, and student learning experiences responsive to the needs of a racially, culturally, and economically diverse student population. Ultimately, the University is dedicated to providing access and opportunity to academically deserving students and producing graduates who are equipped to excel through their contributions and leadership in a 21st century national and global community. For more information, visit

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