American Football Database
The University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Marching Band
SchoolUniversity of Tennessee
LocationKnoxville, TN
DirectorGary Sousa
Assistant directorDonald Ryder, Michael Stewart
Members350 for the 2012 season, 24 color guard members, and 10 majorettes
Fight songDown the Field
UniformNavy blue jacket and pants with a cream stripe, black shoes with white spats, white gloves, Tennessee orange and cream overlay with a white T on the back

The Pride of the Southland and Alumni Bands in 2007.


The Pride of the Southland in the Power T.

The Pride of the Southland Band is the official name of the University of Tennessee's marching band.


The Pride of the Southland Marching Band has been performing at halftime for more than one hundred years, but has existed since 1869 when it was founded as part of the Military Department, forerunner to the school's ROTC program. It is one of the oldest collegiate band programs in the country. Its instrumentation in 1883 was entirely made up of cornets. The band continued to grow to between thirteen and seventeen members, and in 1892, it was reorganized under Ernest H. Garratt.

The band wore West Point-style uniforms like the rest of the cadets in the Military Department and had a more varied instrumentation, including a clarinet.

At the turn of the twentieth century, William A. Knabe was appointed as band director. He was the first “full-time” band director; Ernest H. Garratt had also served as an organist, choirmaster, musical director, and director of the Glee Club. UT won the first (documented) game at which the band performed in 1902.

By 1917, the band had changed to World War I style uniforms and doubled in size. The band grew along with the military units on campus. By 1935, the band boasted eighty-five members, but remained all male due to the band’s continued association with the Military Department. In 1937, an all-female contingent called the "Volettes" began performing with the band. Its membership ranged from fifty to ninety.

The 1940s brought women into the band. One of the first women to play with the band was Martha Carroll, who played the lyre, and a marimba player named Marjorie Abbott. By 1946, women outnumbered the male members of the band, due to World War II, and the lack of male students. By 1949, the band was once again all male, but retained female majorettes. Major Walter Ryba was properties master for the Army and Air Force ROTC at Knoxville and also for the Army ROTC at the University of Tennessee-Martin campus.

The name, "Pride of the Southland", was a "committee" decision of the band members, themselves, on morning of October 15, 1949,as they stood around on sidelines at Legion Field in Birmingham awaiting to practice for the afternoon game. They were waiting for Alabama's "Million Dollar Band", under direction of "Colonel" Butler, to finish its practice. That afternoon as the band came out on field and paused for introduction, for the first time was heerd over loud speaker by 44,000 fans present and the radio listeners, "Presenting The University of Tennessee's Pride of the Southland Band under the direction of 'Major' Walter M. Ryba," It was generally felt that Ryba did not know ahead of time that he was receiving a "commission".

In 1961, Tennessee native W. J. Julian was hired as an associate professor and director of the UT bands. Under Julian's leadership the band grew in size, prestige, and reputation. The band was then removed from the ROTC department and placed under the Music Education Department. Julian also designed the band’s signature navy, orange, and creme-colored uniforms, which paid homage to the band’s military past and are still a tradition to this day. Some of the many traditions established under his direction are the pregame formations, opening the T, Rocky Top, and Circle Drill.

Although Julian retired in 1993, the band still upholds the tradition of excellence he set. Besides representing the State of Tennessee in the last 13 presidential inaugurations, the band has appeared at the many bowl games the Tennessee football team has traveled to throughout the nation. Additionally, due to Julian's influence, the Pride is the only band in the Southeastern Conference that uses the traditional chair step marching style; it is one of the few outside the Big Ten to use this physically demanding style. It is also the only SEC band with a strutting, Big Ten-style drum major.

In March 2007, The Pride traveled to Dublin, Ireland, to play at various concerts and in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

The current Director of Bands is Gary Sousa. The Associate Director of Bands is Donald D. Ryder. The Assistant Director is Michael Stewart.



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File:Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Tennessee Pregame

The Pride of the Southland opening the famous T.

The Pride's famous pregame show was designed by Julian with exclusive musical arrangements by Warren Clark and Barry McDonald. This six minute and forty-five second show has remained largely unchanged since the 1960s. It begins with a "Tennessee Waltz" variation in common time, followed by, starting in the 2007 season, a march version of Alabama's "Tennessee River", then the "Alma Mater March". As they march back playing the Alma Mater march they pay tribute to "the greatest football fans in the country" by spelling out VOLS. Then in the spirit of sportsmanship the visiting team's fight song is played in the direction of the opposing team's band and student section. After this, the band forms the traditional floating "U" and "T" and marches this across the majority of the field accompanied by "Rocky Top". The pregame show continues to build in excitement as the "Power T" is formed and all the Vols fans are asked to join in the Volunteer Wave and the crowd spells out "V-O-L-S" and chant "Go Vols Go!" Then the Pride of the Southland's Drum Major runs through the middle of this formation. In the 2010 season, the drum major did not run through the "Power T," but the tradition was picked back up the next season. The band then marches across the field until it reaches the opposite end zone. At this point, "Stars and Stripes Forever" is played and the band forms a large "USA" to the visiting sideline, then inverts the form to face the front sideline.

Pregame reaches its most thrilling point with the "Opening of the T." The bottom and sides of the "Power T" open up to form a tunnel for the football team as it runs onto the field.

Although the T formation is used almost exclusively at Tennessee home games in Neyland Stadium, it has been done at other venues, most notably at the 1986 and 1991 Sugar Bowl.

Rocky Top


5 min video of UT Pregame

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File:Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Rocky Top

Vol fans can also thank Julian, via Walter McDaniel, for introducing "Rocky Top" in a halftime show in 1972, after which it made its way to the stands. The football crowd loved the tune and its words; the more the band played it, the more people wanted it. It has now become one of the University's best-known traditions and one of the band's most famous songs.

Its popularity also extends far beyond the campus of the University of Tennessee; "Rocky Top" became one of the Tennessee state songs in 1982. To acknowledge the impact that UT and the "Pride" had on their careers, when writers Felice and Boudleaux Bryant were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1986, Julian was invited. The Bryants' company, House of Bryant, has granted the band has a perpetual license to play the song as much and as often as success on the field dictates.

The song has become so closely identified with the Vols that many believe it to be the school's official fight song. Indeed, an early version of the SEC's Web site included a recording of "Rocky Top" as Tennessee's fight song. However, Tennessee's official fight song is "Down the Field," adapted from Yale University. It is quite common for the band to end playing Rocky Top and the crowd to continue singing the chorus into the next play.

Circle Drill

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File:Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Tennessee Circle Drill
File:Flower drill.jpg

The Flower Drill formation from the Tennessee Circle Drill

With the ingenuity in visual design of undergraduate trombone player Ken Landgren, Julian also introduced the Circle, Flower, and Star marching drills to Tennessee in half time shows. New drills were written each year to form a unique show until the most difficult maneuvers were combined with music into one show by former drum major and graduate student, and former Assistant Director John T. Martin. The music of the show is intended to take the audience on a tour of Tennessee, from Memphis to Chattanooga to Nashville and ending in Knoxville. The music includes arrangements of "C.C. Rider", "Chattanooga Choo-Choo", "Will the Circle Be Unbroken", and "Rocky Top". The Tennessee Circle Drill was born, and continues to be performed as a great tradition of the "Pride". The current Circle Drill show is performed at least three times every year at one of the final home games, at least at one away game, and a bowl game. Typically, it is also performed at a few road games. The Tennessee Circle Drill has been televised on several occasions, including the 2005 Cotton Bowl.

Spirit of the Hill

The oldest tradition of the Pride of the Southland comes at the end of every home halftime show where the Pride plays Spirit of the Hill and forms an interlocking UT with the year 1794 or, more recently, on one side of the field a U and on the other side a T, on the field. This is the longest lasting tradition of the band dating back more than one hundred years.

Alma Mater

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File:Nuvola apps arts.svg UT Alma Mater

After forming the interlocking UT at the end of every home halftime show, the Pride plays the Alma Mater. UT's Alma Mater was officially adopted in 1928 after a yearlong contest sponsored by the school's musical organizations. A Chattanoogan, Mary Fleming Meek, won the $50 prize with her song entitled "On a Hallowed Hill." Although Mrs. Meek was not an alumna of UT, both her husband, John Lamar Meek, and her son were graduates, and her father was a former trustee of the university. Another tradition of the Pride is to interlock arms and sing the Alma Mater prior to marching to the stadium for every home football game.

Salute to the Hill

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Pride's Salute to the Hill.

At every home game, the Pride performs the "March to the Stadium" which includes a parade sequence and climaxes when the Band stops at the bottom of "The Hill" (The oldest section of campus which resides upon the tallest hill right next to Neyland Stadium) and performs the "Salute to The Hill", a homage to the history and legacy of the University. You can watch the Salute to "The Hill" on YouTube.

Presidential inaugurations

The Pride of the Southland has represented the state of Tennessee for each Presidential Inauguration for the past 13 parades, far and away the most of any non-military band. Most recently, it attended both inaugurations of Barack Obama.

External links